In the second major police raid of the day, the RCMP have moved in on the rail blockade near New Hazelton, B.C., erected this afternoon by members of the Gitxsan Nation. The RCMP have now confirmed they arrested 14 people.
Gitxsan hereditary chiefs Norman Stevens (Spookw), Yvonne Lattie (Gwinitxw) and Larry Patsey (Dawamuukw) have been arrested, according to social media posts from inside the raid. Arresting hereditary chiefs on their own territory would represent a significant escalation in the ongoing crisis surrounding the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline through Wet’suwet’en territory.
Spookwx of the #gitxsan nation explains why the CN rail line is blocked in Hazelton. pic.twitter.com/VTgr7DTktI— Daniel Mesec (@danmesec) February 25, 2020
“Come to the tracks and follow the RCMP to where they take the Gitxsan chiefs,” wrote a blockade organizer on Facebook. “We must not leave them.”
Members of the Gitxsan Nation and supporters shut down Highway 16, the Highway of Tears, saying they wouldn't re-open it until those arrested were released. They were released early the next morning, and the highway was reopened.
The New Hazelton blockade was originally erected in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs during the RCMP raids on three Wet’suwet’en sites earlier this month. It was taken down last week in hopes negotiations with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs would take place, then went back up this afternoon in response to the police raid in Tyendinaga Mohawk territory and the RCMP’s failure to leave the remote Morice Forest Service Road, where the three earlier raids on the Wet'suwet'en took place.
The blockade participants' only demands were that the RCMP withdraw from Wet’suwet’en territory and the provincial and federal governments agree to negotiate.
According to reports from participants, the RCMP denied media access to the area.
The video below was shot by a participant in the Gitxsan blockade. It shows the RCMP raid and arrests on Gitxsan territory this evening. Shortly after the 14-minute mark, a woman whom participants identify as a journalist is grabbed by RCMP officers and led away. Her camera is apparently left behind on the tracks. The RCMP declined to respond immediately to questions about whether this woman identified herself as a journalist, saying they had not yet spoken to all the officers involved. They gave the same response to questions about whether they barred media from accessing the site. We'll update when we get an answer.
Our article from earlier today about the OPP raid on the Mohawk of Tyendinaga has a lot of context on everything happening over the last few days that led to this point.
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