BRITISH COLUMBIA, Unceded Tahltan Territory – September 18, 2014
The Wildlife Defence League (WDL) has been invited by the Klabona Keepers to blockade the only road providing access to the Sacred Headwaters. This area is home to numerous species of wildlife, including moose, grizzly bear, black bear, and stone sheep. In recent years these animals have been exploited by resident hunters, mainly for trophy. Moose populations have been most effected, due to no bag-limits that have precipitated a massive decline in the species. Consequently, the Klabona Keepers and the WDL are firm in their conviction that protecting wildlife and safeguarding habitat in the Sacred Headwaters from exploitation is a pressing priority. The Klabona Keepers with the support of the Wildlife Defence League, intend to blockade the entrance to the Sacred Headwaters from non-Indigenous and resident trophy hunters. Tahltan hunters will not be blockaded, as the Wildlife Defence League supports their right to live off the land as they have done for thousands of years.
Wildlife Defence League member Tommy Knowles stated, “It’s taken us 3 days to drive through what feels like the most wild place on earth. We’ve seen Grizzly Bears, Black Bears and Moose living out their natural lives in this unique habitat. It’s disheartening to arrive in the Sacred Headwaters today knowing that this land is a trophy hunters paradise, but it feels amazing to be standing in solidarity with the Klabona Keepers to put an end to this exploitation.”
Not only are the wildlife and the community that is dependant on them being exploited, but so is the land. This past week, RCMP surrounded a group of
unarmed, peaceful members of the Klabona Keepers. The group was occupying a drill site on the mountain behind this blockade because the company was drilling without consultation or consent. The Klabona Keepers had simply requested that the company (Firesteel) meet with the elders prior to releasing the drill. However, in a show of disrespect, Firesteel and the government disregarded that request and arrived by helicopter to remove the drill. They came unannounced and heavily armed. Thereafter, the RCMP prohibited members of the Klabona Keepers from communicating via radio to anyone outside the blockade, cutting the only means of communication they had with the elders and their family in Iskut, to assure them of their safety. They were threatened with arrest if they attempted to use their radios.
The situation unfolding in the Sacred Headwaters is illustrative of the interconnections between these issues; the corporate and political exploitation of the land, resources and animals of this territory and the communities that rely on them. The Klabona Keepers, with support from the Wildlife Defence League, are asserting their lawful authority to defend their territories and both organizations hope that the hunting blockade will raise awareness about the devastating impacts of trophy hunting and will draw attention to corporate and political exploitation of the Sacred Headwaters.
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Gray Wolf Field Campaign by Rod Coronado
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Wildlife Defence League are putting their lives on the line to help save wildlife this fall in BC, Canada. Every year, in the Great Bear Rainforest, grizzly bears and wolves are shot dead by trophy hunters. WDL have decided that they want their first campaign to be committed to stopping the this hunt. Watch the video, listen to their passion, look at the animals that they wish to save, then head over to the following link and donate what you can. Please help out and support the campaign here.
On Saturday March 15, Montreal Quebec held it’s 18th annual Anti-Police Brutality March. This year, protesters who were demonstrating in the streets were informed that the police had decalred their protest illegal two days before it was scheduled, using the P-6 laws that were enacted during the massive student strikes in 2012. These laws allow the Montreal police to declare any protest illegal at any time if they are not provided with notice of the route. In Canada, the right to protest and to take a roadway in order to do so is a right protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, similar to the Constitution in the USA. There are several court challenges to this law, but it remains used to stifle dissenting voices and protected peaceful assembly. Today we are speaking with a member and supporter from the Collective Opposed to Police Brutality (COBP) about the march they organized on Saturday March 15. This year’s march saw 250+ people kettled, arrested, and ticketed $637 each by the Montreal Police (SVMP).
BWM: Can you please outline for people who may not be familiar, what the present climate towards protest in Montreal is like, and how this differs from the way things were in the past?
COBP: Montreal has always been a city where protest is present. There was a huge popular uprising in 2012; students had declared the general strike and hundreds of events took place. Citizens had managed to take control of the streets for several months. Following the student strike, in order to stop the events, changes to the regulation of Municipal by-law: P-6 by-law was made; one of which says that the organizers must provide their route to the police. Strongly condemned by dozens of organizations of all types, the police began to kettle protesters from the gathering points, preventing people from taking the street. In all, over 3,000 people were arrested under P6, protesters and ordinary citizens who were passing by and had nothing to do with the event. This famous ticket is a fine of $637.
BWM: On this past weekend in Montreal, hundreds of protesters were rounded up and arrested in the city during a non-violent demonstration. Can you outline for us what the march was about, and how over 200 protesters came to find themselves under arrest?
COBP: The 15th of March is an international day against police brutality. Everywhere in the world people are gathering on this day to denounce police abuse. Here in Montreal, the COBP has been organizing the protest for 18 years, whose themes vary from year to year (social cleaning, profiling, police impunity…) this year the theme was police militarization.
This past Saturday, 288 people were kettled because of the P6 by-law, under the premise of not giving the route. In the past 6 months, a lot of protests happened where there were no routes given and the police still let the protest start and finish. The SPVM [Editors note: SPVM stands for Service de police de la Ville de Montréal, and is the city's police department] declared the protest on Saturday illegal 2 days prior to the date of the protest. They are applying political profiling on our protests because the SPVM really hate the COBP and radical militants. Same thing with May 1st, a protest that is organized by the CLAC [Editors note: CLAC is an all-canadian private union that organizes 60,000 workers in many different workplaces]; police are political profiling because it is the CLAC. For them, we (the anarchists), are radical terrorists that should be exterminated.
BWM: Montreal is no stranger to mass arrests these days, how has the implementation of these laws affected organizational structures and charter protected rights to freedom of expression and protest–are these laws changing the way people organize or express their dissent in Quebec?
COBP: That P6 by-law is affecting a lot of organisations. There are many people who do not want to participate in protests anymore because of the by-law. We are officially in a police state. There is no way of expressions anymore, at least not in the street! More and more anarchists are thinking of other possibilities to smash the system, illegal or not. Protests are just one of many ways to express our rage towards the repressive system. Right now, the P6 by-law modifications are being contested by Anarchopanda. [Editor's note: if you aren't familiar with Anarchopanda... you ought to be.] It should start in December but the trial will take several years. There are also 6 class actions for 5 different protests in process, also against P6.
BWM: Many of these shifts occurred during the student protests in Montreal; do you believe that this kind of police power is drying up dissent and political action in Montreal, or is is merely changing and evolving the tactics and structures of those who organize/resist?
COBP: Increasingly, police are trying to silence the voices of the people. The police, the judiciary system and the media all work together to create a climate of fear on citizens. The SPVM are just a bunch of stupid robots with no brains and no hearts. In another way, they can TRY to silence us, but if protests are not a solution anymore, there is many others possibilities; Anarchists have a lot of imagination.
BWM: If you could tell someone outside of Montreal one thing that you have learned from organizing within this political climate, what would it be?
COBP: I learned that no matter what type of repression the state will use on us, it’s a good reason to just keep fighting against it. More and more people are getting angry about all the repression and profiling of the dumbass SPVM and the mass media, all of which are spreading disinformation. The struggle is not local… the struggle is international!
BWM: Can you explain for us what it is your group does, and how people who are both inside and outside of Montreal might show you support or become involved with your work?
COBP: Most people think that the COBP are just a bunch of radical anarchists that are only putting on an annual protest that generates violence (according to the media), but we are doing work year around, with victims of police brutality or abuse. People are calling or writing us because they need help, they need advice, they want to denounce something etc. We are also giving public workshops about knowing your rights towards the police. We also do a working memory of all the victims of the SPVM by putting on vigils when an innocent person has been killed by them or to commemorate the death of a victim killed by the SPVM. We are putting benefit shows for political prisoners, we have also a merchandise table that we are presenting in different events. We are writing publications and documentation in some Anarchist’s zines. People can visit our website: www.cobp.resist.ca
BWM: Is there a particular thing you love about Montreal or the activists and students who have been involved in your community that you’d like to share with people who may only see news stories or small pieces of information about the city on social media?
COBP: Get involved in the movement if you feel angry about the system! By peer group or collective group, together we’re stronger than ever! Here as everywhere else, state repression will not pass! For alternative media I suggest anyone to follow: CUTV, Gappa, Moïse
Stand up, fight back!
BWM: Do you have any final words you wish to share about the march that was organized, the issue it was centered around and/or arrests that followed it on Saturday?
COBP: It is without surprise but rather an enormous amount of rage an indignation that the Collective Opposed to Police Brutality (COBP/Mtl) denounces the mass arrest that ended the 18th annual demonstration against police brutality mere moments before it began. The Montréal police (SPVM), with the help of the Québec police (SQ), encircled the demonstration before it even really begun. According to our initial information, about 250 people were arrested using article 2.1 of the municipal bylaw P-6 that prohibits all protests where the route is not given to the police ahead of time. (Must we remind them that the constitutionality of bylaw P-6 is currently being contested in court)? Many targeted arrests happened, many of which were carried out quite brutally. One demonstrator was sent to the hospital after his head was smashed by police batons. The SPVM countered their reputation of intolerance by declaring the demonstration illegal 2 days before March 15th under the pretext that the route had not been submitted ahead of time. Undercover police working for the SPVM also visited many activists in the days prior, intimidating them and discouraging from participating in the 2014 March 15th demo. As demonstrated arrived at the gathering point of Jean-Talon metro they were greeted by a veritable army of police on foot, on horses, on bicycles, in cars and in helicopters. After a brief but energetic speech by the organizers, which was interrupted by a cop who shouted incomprehensibly, the crowd tried to go west on Jean-Talon road. A line of riot cops was deployed immediately, blocking their route. The people turned right around and took Châteaubriand road towards the south – the only direction that was not blocked by SPVM. On Châteaubriand, between Jean-Talon and Bélanger, the majority of people were arrested when the SPVM did not give them a chance to disperse, contradicting their own “instructions to demonstrators,” published on March 12th on their website. Many other arrests were more or less targeted and took place several blocks away from the kettle. The SPVM’s “Urban Brigade” pursued, provoked and brutally arrested several people for banal reasons such as “impeding sidewalk traffic” and “emitting an audible noise outdoors.” The COBP denounces the fact that the SPVM has proven once again that it is incapable of tolerating demonstrations against its own brutality and police impunity. Many demonstrations that did not reveal their route to police were tolerated in 2013, without counting the innumerable “illegal” demonstrations in 2012. The repressive demonstration on the afternoon of March 15th demonstrates again that no matter what government is in power, liberal or otherwise, it’s always the police who decide who has the right to demonstrate and when, just like in a veritable police state.