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B.C. RCMP will review Hazelton arrests following Northwest MLA’s “complaint letter”

Two Gitxsan men were arrested on Nov. 21 while protesting in solidarity with pipeline opponents
An encampment on Hwy 16 in New Hazelton near the CN Rail tracks was set up in solidarity with Coastal GasLink pipeline opponents following arrests made at the company’s worksite near Houston. Two men were arrested near the camp triggering a request by Stikine MLA Nathan Cullen to review police actions. (Deb Meissner photo)

British Columbia RCMP E Division will be reviewing police action that took place during the arrest of two Gitxsan men at Hazelton CN rail tracks on Nov. 21, said Warren Brown, chief superintendent of the north district.

Although Brown was unable to say when the review would begin or who would be involved, he said the RCMP is in receipt of a letter from Stikine MLA Nathan Cullen’s they are treating as a “complaint letter” to initiate the process.

“If there’s a complaint, we’re obliged and compelled to initiate an investigation through the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC),” Brown said.

Cullen told Black Press Media that he had not filed an official complaint with the CRCC, but he had written previously to RCMP commissioner Brenda Lucki asking her for a review.

In the Dec. 3 letter, Cullen called on Lucki, to personally review the police enforcement action following the arrest of two of his constituents who were protesting in solidarity with Coastal GasLink pipeline opponents.

READ MORE: Stikine MLA calls on RCMP top cop to review pipeline opponents’ arrests in Hazelton

The RCMP headquarters in Ottawa told Black Press Media that any review into the arrests would need to be initiated by the provincial RCMP ‘E Division,’ and not Lucki’s office.

Lucki responded to Cullen on Dec. 8 and copied Deputy Commissioner Dwayne McDonald, the commanding officer of E Division, in her letter.

In the response to Cullen, which he posted on his Twitter account Dec. 9, Lucki did not comment on the specific details of the arrest because, she said, it is an active investigation, but she did explain some “general terms.”

The commissioner said the two individuals were arrested for violating CN’s civil injunction against obstructing their tracks.

“The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is legislatively required to enforce the injunction of the court. In each case where an injunction is being breached, we make considerable efforts to avoid active enforcement and instead work towards peacefully resolving the conflict through engagement and negotiations,” Lucki wrote.

“When required to do so, police officers will use as much force as is necessary to resolve the matter,” she added.

One of the men was arrested for placing obstacles on the tracks and the second for obstruction. Both were charged with civil contempt of court and mischief and released the same day, according to Cpl. Madonna Saunderson, RCMP spokesperson for the north district.

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