The first sound was a snowmobile, somewhere in the distance.
Then, with no warning, a dozen RCMP vehicles, including prisoner vans and RCMP-branded Suburbans, roared out of the pre-dawn darkness and stopped just short of the watch camp where Wet’suwet’en land defenders have been resisting a court-ordered evacuation of their lands to make way for a pipeline.
Backed up by tactical officers, dog teams, and drones with infrared sensors, dozens of RCMP officers began raiding Wet’suwet’en land defender camps shortly before 5 a.m.
Led by one officer bellowing “Police! Stay Calm!”, dozens of officers flooded into the watch camp.
One RCMP officer repeatedly threatened a VICE reporter and another journalist with arrest, ordering them out of the camp while they conducted arrests.
Police also attempted to prevent journalists from photographing or filming members of the tactical enforcement teams, the green-clad militarized units which stormed the Gidimt’en barricades a year ago under the supervision of “lethal overwatch.”
VICE saw multiple members of the same unit at the watch camp, armed with what appeared to be sniper and assault rifles.
“Shame on the RCMP! Shame on the colonizer!” land defenders screamed as they were dragged away.
As arrests carried on, RCMP ordered journalists farther and farther away from the scene, apparently in response to orders directly from the tactical enforcement team officers.
In a statement released Thursday morning, Coastal GasLink president David Pfeiffer said the raid “is not the outcome we wanted.”
“We have made exceptional efforts to resolve this blockade through engagement and dialogue,” Pfeiffer said. “It’s truly unfortunate that we were unable to find a path forward that allowed for the construction of Coastal GasLink with the support of all.”
RCMP Are Raiding Wet’suwet’en Land Defender Camps. At least six people have been arrested after the RCMP started raiding Wet’suwet’en land defender camps early this morning.By Sarah Berman and Jesse, VICE, Feb 6 2020
According to supporters of the blockade, more than a dozen RCMP officers moved past the police checkpoint on Morice Forest Service Road early Thursday morning.
“It’s a whole damn army up there,” said Wet’suwet’en hereditary Chief Woos, who also goes by the name Frank Alec.
“They’ve got guns on, they’ve got tactical gear on. They look like they’re ready for war.”
The arrests were made at kilometre 39 — one of three camps built by supporters of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs — on the traditional territory near Houston, B.C., Gidimt’en clan spokesperson Molly Wickham said in a Facebook video.
Of the six who were arrested, police say one had locked herself in a vehicle and removed her clothing. Police broke a window to enter the vehicle and take her into custody.
Another man “dressed in a costume” fled by climbing a tree, but was later arrested.
All six were taken to the Houston RCMP detachment and are expected to be released with an upcoming court date, police said.
The Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have said their protest against the $6-billion, 670-kilometre pipeline is and will remain peaceful.
As RCMP moved in Thursday, Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs announced they were launching a court challenge against the pipeline’s environmental approval.
6 arrested at Wet’suwet’en anti-pipeline camp. ‘They’ve got guns on, they’ve got tactical gear on,’ said Wet’suwet’en hereditary Chief Woos, CBC News · Posted: Feb 06, 2020