PART 1 OF 3: Awkward questions raised at investigation of RCMP actions at Rexton shale gas camp: “Why didn’t they care about the crime scene?” (Part 1 of 3) by Dallas McQuarrie, March 20, 2015, NB Media Coop
A St. Louis-de-Kent man is asking some very pointed questions about what really happened on October 17, 2013, when RCMP overran a shale gas protest camp at Rexton. During the raid, six police cars were burned. Using RCMP statements and pure imagination [Or on orders from the oil and gas industry and Harper?], some mainstream media outlets jumped to the dubious conclusion that protesters were responsible.
The day the RCMP attacked the Rexton protest camp, Roger Richard went to the site of the car burnings about 6:00 p.m. and took a long, close-up look at the vehicles. Richard’s inspection of the burned out cars led him to conclude the burnings were “staged” to discredit protesters. [And pave Harper’s secret CSIS police plan?]
“Those cars were stripped,” Richard says. “There were no burned computers, standard in RCMP cars, nor even the brackets that hold the computers in place.” He also looked in the trunk of a car and noted that there was no spare tire, tire rim, or jack.
Richard, a dentist, who has practiced dentistry in St. Louis de Kent for 34 years, says computers, spare tires and other equipment are standard equipment in RCMP cars. He says the absence of such standard equipment from the burned vehicles is only one indication that the burnings were staged.
Richard was also shocked that police took no special precautions with the crime scene. “Within hours of the crime, I was able to walk right up to the cars while they were still smoldering,” he says. “The area had not been sealed off with crime scene tape, and there were no police around at all.”
“I could have tampered with those vehicles, and some people obviously did,” Richard says. He recalls being at a nearby coffee shop a few days later and seeing another customer showing people a piece of one of the burned cars he had taken as a souvenir.
“Why didn’t they care about the scene of the crime?” Richard asks. “Why didn’t the police protect the crime scene from tampering? Why didn’t they immediately bring in their own arson experts to gather evidence?” He says that the RCMP’s willingness to let the evidence that might have been gathered be tampered with or removed by passers-by, or destroyed by the weather, is further evidence the burnings were staged.
For weeks after the car burnings, the remains of the cars sat unattended by the side of the road. During that time, rain and snowfall would have further obscured or ruined possible crime scene evidence.
Richard further noted that “parts of the engines were actually melted, and that indicates the fire burned at a very high temperature.” He suspects that an ” accelerant” of a type not available for public purchase was used on the cars. Accelerants are substance or mixtures used to rapidly accelerate the development of a fire, and are commonly associated with cases of arson.
Richard is a specialist who makes dental prostheses, and his training involved the melting of various metals to make alloys for dental prostheses. “I know something about the fact that metals melt at different temperatures, and I think something more than just ordinary gasoline was used on those cars.”
He also questions the RCMP’s account of what transpired that day. “We were told that the police were afraid and ran away from their cars,” Richard says, “but the many police officers all around the area were highly trained and heavily armed. What were they afraid of and, if they were afraid, why not get in the cars and simply drive away instead of abandoning their vehicles?”
Within days of the Rexton riot, Richard took his observations directly to the RCMP station in Richibucto. He was met with an angry response from officers who promptly invited him to leave. He has since shared his information with the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission Against the RCMP (CRCC) that is now investigating RCMP conduct in Kent County during the shale gas protests.
Richard also says he experienced “déjà-vu” during his inspection of the burned cars. He is old enough to remember that when Kouchibouguac National Park was formed, local Acadians living there had their land expropriated by governments, and protests were organized by people trying to defend their homes.
“There was a confrontation with the RCMP back then too,” Richard says, “and, just like Rexton, there was an RCMP car abandoned then too. It was pushed into the ditch and the demonstrators were blamed.”
Richard strongly suspects that protesters at the Rexton camp have been wrongly blamed for what was, in reality, a staged event designed to discredit them. Many people here want answers to the kind of pointed questions Richard is asking.
PART 2 OF 3: Inquiry into RCMP conduct in Kent County collects evidence in Rexton, hears cries for justice (Part 2 of 3) by by Dallas McQuarrie on March 20, 2015, NB Media Coop
Rexton – An investigation into the decision-making, actions, and role of the RCMP during 2013 shale gas protests in Kent County heard repeated cries for justice, leavened with tears, in Rexton on March 14.
In December 2014, Ian McPhail, Chair of the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission Against the RCMP (CRCC) said that he was “satisfied that there are reasonable grounds” for the investigation, based on the 20 formal complaints against Canada’s national police force, including one complaint from Halifax signed by more than 245 people.
The Rexton meeting was directed by Rosemary Morgan, a lawyer and the CRCC’s Senior Reviewer/Analyst. She stressed that the Commission reports directly to Parliament and is independent [Is there such a thing in Harper’s Fascist/Encana-KGB Canada?] of both the RCMP and the federal government.
Morgan told the meeting that she is having some difficulty getting all the information the Commission has requested, and is legally entitled to have, from the RCMP. Everyone at the Rexton meeting had taken part in or witnessed shale gas protest, and all were willing to share their experiences and the information they have.
Following three years of anti-shale gas protest without any incidents of violence, the RCMP suddenly attacked and overran a protest camp at Rexton on October 17, 2013. While the Rexton camp garnered much media attention, people in Kent County and elsewhere have been sharing stories of police misconduct in a variety of incidents over the course of the protests.
A big part of the answer to questions about RCMP conduct here may have come last month when a leaked RCMP report revealed RCMP security personnel were targeting people concerned about the environment and climate change. Apparently the threat of global catastrophe due to climate change is of no concern to RCMP security forces, but peaceful protesters concerned about the health of their children and grandchildren are perceived as threats to national security.
Many anti-shale gas activists feel the leaked RCMP report explains why a protest movement that had been non-violent for three years had also been so consistently harassed and abused by police. Now they wonder just how deep the collusion between a supposedly impartial police force and the hydrocarbon industry goes. Equally evident is the perceived difference between the RCMP officers living in the community and the security police and their tactical squads that stormed the Rexton camp.
Among the first concerns raised in Rexton was the fact that Aboriginal protesters received harsher treatment than non-Aboriginals from police. There was anger that no RCMP officers were ever charged for illegal actions described. Another prominent complaint was that the RCMP consistently favored the shale gas company SWN and had a cozy relationship with SWN security guards. The meeting heard that police were told about a SWN truck that hit three women protesters, but refused to take any action.
Although expressed in many ways, the common element in all the outrage and tears was a demand for justice for all and impartial policing. [In Harper’s deadly anti-Canadian, anti-science, anti-environment, anti-water, anti-air, anti-public interest, anti-public health Canada?] As the meeting progressed, two CRCC investigators in attendance did follow-up interviews with people wanting to speak with them.
A woman in tears recounted walking with a friend down the road away from the protest site, when her friend was jumped and thrown to the ground by RCMP officers. Others wanted to know why the political leaders “responsible” for RCMP conduct were not being called to account. [In Harper’s loving only human rights violating Israel? In Harper’s hating Canadians especially Muslims, First Nations, anyone not white and anyone concerned for the health and well being of their loved ones from poisons pumped and dumped by the “Alberta Model” oil and gas industry?]
Denise Melanson is a retired social worker living in the Rexton area who had already given her story to the CRCC before Saturday’s meeting. Melanson was near the RCMP cars that were burned shortly after police launched their attack on the camp.
“There were police with the cars when I got there,” Melanson says. “I didn’t notice when they left.” She remembers people running from the scene when police moved on the protest camp, and then saw “three or four young people come out of the bush” and start vandalizing the police cars.
“I was quite taken aback and kept wondering when the police would stop them,” she says, but, by that time, the police had vacated the area, apparently leaving their cars behind. “I was very upset. With that many police officers in the area, I expected somebody to stop it.”
Melanson is a stalwart in the anti-shale gas movement, and knows a great many protesters. She didn’t recognize the men who attacked the police cars, so she “asked around” and found that the men had arrived only the day before, and no one knew them. Melanson is puzzled by the fact the police weren’t interested in her story and never did show her any photographs of possible suspects or even do a follow-up interview. She questions if there was any real need for the RCMP’s “grand intervention” in Rexton on October 17, 2013.
PART 3 OF 3: Who polices the secret police? History of RCMP security police shows numerous violations of civil, democratic rights (Part 3 of 3) by Dallas McQuarrie, March 20, 2015, NB Media Coop
Kent County residents know the two faces of the RCMP very well. They know the regular, rank and file members of the force who have been part of New Brunswick’s communities for years. For three years these officers observed strictly non-violent anti-shale gas protests and kept lines of communications with protesters open.
Local residents also know the face of the RCMP security forces. When the Province of New Brunswick decided to end shale-gas protests by force in 2013, security forces composed of special tactical units, snipers and armored vehicles rolled into Kent County. Their actions to crush peaceful shale gas protests here were characterized by mass arrests and violence.
Since then, people here have been demanding answers to the question of why the police suddenly turned on peaceful demonstrators in 2013 and began acting like a private security force for a foreign resource corporation. The answer may have come in mid-February with the leak of a secret RCMP security report labeling environmentalists and those concerned about climate change a “security threat” to Canada.
That report attempted to smear people demonstrating against climate change as dangerous radicals, and it has people here rolling their eyes. In New Brunswick, the ‘radical environmentalists’ the RCMP warned about are mayors and municipal leaders, doctors and other health professionals, religious leaders, and parents and grandparents trying to protect their families and communities.
Many people here think that the RCMP engineered the Rexton riot in October 2013, burning some police cars in the process, in an attempt to make believable their story about dangerous protestors posing a threat to law and order.
Less well known, perhaps, is the fact that governments in Canada have not been hesitant to use RCMP Security Services to attack their critics. In the process, Canada’s “security” police have repeatedly violated the civil and democratic rights of Canadians.
The following list of 10 examples of criminal actions or violations of people’s rights by RCMP security forces is only a sampling of such cases, and helps to illustrate why many people here have lost faith in the RCMP’s ability to provide impartial policing:
• In 2006 documents obtained by the Canadian Press reveal that the RCMP spied on Tommy Douglas for more than 30 years. Douglas, the ‘Father of Medicare’ in Canada, was voted the greatest Canadian of all time in 2004. Even after Douglas retired, and despite not a hint of wrong-doing after 30 years of covert surveillance, the RCMP recommended continued spying on him.
• In 2002 a Montreal man on his way home from a family vacation was arrested in New York. Acting on false information given by the RCMP, U.S. officials secretly shipped the Canadian to Syria where he was imprisoned and tortured for more than 10 months, and forced to sign a false confession that he had trained in terrorist camps. A subsequent public inquiry showed that he had no ties to terrorism. Four years later, RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli was forced to apologize to the man and his family. No RCMP officer involved in the frame-up was ever charged.
• In 1999 the RCMP bombed an oil site in Alberta on the instructions of the Alberta Energy Company. An Alberta farmer who had been protesting oil pollution was blamed for the crime, and he and another farmer were held in jail without bail. Government lawyers eventually admitted that the farmers were innocent and that the RCMP had committed the crime.
• In 1997, an APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation) summit was held in Vancouver. The RCMP attacked, with pepper spray, peaceful demonstrators protesting human rights crimes by some of the Asian dictators in attendance, and strip searched them. A subsequent public inquiry found that the RCMP was at fault, showed a lack of professionalism, and a failure to prepare properly for the event. The report also determined that the federal government interfered with police in an attempt to shield certain tyrants.
• In 1977, Quebec launched the Keable Inquiry into Illegal Police Activities. Following the inquiry, 17 members of the RCMP were charged with 44 offences.
• In 1976 Vancouver Sun reporter John Sawatsky, in a front-page story, exposed more than 400 illegal break-ins by the RCMP. Sawatsky’s exposé of the RCMP won the prestigious Michener Award for excellence in journalism that year.
• In 1973, the RCMP committed a break-in and stole a Parti Québécois membership list. It took four years before Federal Solicitor General Francis Fox admitted that the RCMP had committed the crimes.
• In 1972 the RCMP Security Service committed arson by burning down a barn in Sainte-Anne-de-la-Rochelle, Quebec in an attempt to discredit the separatist group FLQ. The RCMP decided to burn down the barn after a judge refused them permission to wiretap it. Five years later, federal Solicitor General Francis Fox admitted the RCMP had committed the crimes.
• In 1972 the RCMP broke into the Agence de Presse Libre du Quebec. More than 1,000 files were taken or damaged, and ‘militants’ were blamed. A year later the truth came out. An RCMP officer and a member of the Sûreté du Québec pleaded guilty, but were given unconditional discharges.
• In 1971 a team of RCMP officers broke into the storage facilities of Richilieu Explosives and stole an unspecified amount of dynamite. In April 1972, RCMP officers hid four cases of the dynamite in Mont Saint-Grégoire in an attempt to link the explosives with Quebec separatists. It was not until 1977 that Federal Solicitor General Francis Fox admitted the RCMP had committed the crimes.
[Comment from a local concerned citizen:
This account confirms what [we] saw while visiting the scene the next day . The ammo boxes were empty before the fire . There were no bullet holes from inside to outside thru the truck metal surrounding . They looked like high mileage cars that had been stripped and readied for sale at auction . The majority of the RCMP at the scene came by bus from hotels they were staying at , and left Rexton the same way . ]
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