People who express dissent should expect “to face the full force of the law,” said Stephen Blaney, public safety minister, this morning in Delta, B.C. He was commenting for the first time on the Dawson Creek RCMP’s fatal shooting of a protester reportedly associated with the amorphous online collective Anonymous.
Blaney conveyed his confidence in the Independent Investigations Office, which is reviewing the shooting. The IIO handles all police-related shootings in the province.
“I’ve said clearly in the past, there are many ways, in this country that enjoys freedom, to express our democratic views,” said Blaney. “I still cherish our freedom and democracy. That’s why our government has introduced legislation to protect those freedoms and rights that are threatened by those who would want to harm us, such as the international jihadi terrorism organization. I invite those who want to express their views to use democratic ways. Those who don’t expose themselves to face the full force of the law.”
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James Daniel McIntyre, 48, was shot and killed by RCMP officers on July 16. He was reportedly wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and standing outside the building where an open house for the controversial Site C hydroelectric dam was being held. The RCMP said McIntyre had a knife and failed to obey their commands before he was shot.
A cellphone video that captured the immediate aftermath of the shooting shows McIntyre motionless and bleeding out over the pavement as officers handcuff him.
“The minister’s comments in relation to the Dawson Creek shooting are simply shocking,” Micheal Vonn, policy director for the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, told Ricochet by email. “Nothing has been established in relation to this shooting, and no one is able to prejudge the outcome of the IIO’s investigation.”
“What is the family of the person who was shot to make of the minister’s attempt to somehow tie this tragic event to international jihadi terrorism? It’s simply outrageous.”
Changing public statements
Initially the Dawson Creek RCMP said they had received a disturbance report that a man was “damaging property” and “disrupting the public event.” According to the police statement, when officers arrived, they “encountered a masked individual outside, believed to be connected to the complaint. Despite officer attempts to de-escalate the situation, a confrontation occurred and the individual was shot.”
For the first day, media reported that the shooting victim was the same person who had disrupted the Site C open house.
Public statements took a sharp turn just over 24 hours after McIntyre’s death. On the evening of July 17, IIO spokesperson Kellie Kilpatrick said that the deceased individual was in fact “unrelated to the public information session” and the original disruptor of the Site C event had left the premises alive and well.
The next day RCMP raided the building of the alleged disruptor, reported to be the same as McIntyre’s residence. No public comment has been made about the second individual.
Anonymous vows revenge
A number of Twitter users have said that an account associated with Anonymous belonged to McIntyre. Tweets from the account, @jaymack9, indicated a presence of some kind was planned for the Dawson Creek open house by those opposed to the Site C dam mega-project.
It seems unlikely that McIntyre was “unrelated” to the Site C open house, as described by the IIO. When asked about this comment, Kilpatrick told Ricochet by email, “What we have said is that the deceased affected person was not related to the disturbance complaint received by the RCMP.”
When asked if anyone had provided a physical description of the person who disrupted the open house to disprove the reports that McIntyre was the original person disrupting the Site C event, Kilpatrick replied, “I can only confirm that we have completed the next of kin related to the deceased.” Kilpatrick added that it is IIO standard protocol not to provide details related to ongoing investigations.
Various social media accounts have vowed to seek justice for the RCMP killing through means including online retaliation. The Dawson Creek RCMP detachment’s website was offline on Saturday, the same day a video was released under the name of Anonymous, vowing to name the officer who shot McIntyre.
The video also says the RCMP should have handled the confrontation with McIntyre according to Treaty 8 protocols, a reference to the agreement signed in 1899 between the Crown and First Nations in much of northeastern B.C. as well as part of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and the Northwest Territories.
Given the rarity of fatal shootings of protesters in recent Canadian history, McIntyre’s death at the hands of police deserves close scrutiny.
With a file from Laura Baziuk from News Talk 980 CKNW in Delta.