Three of the police officers stopping media and observers from proceeding further.

Over 90 complaints about police misconduct at Fairy Creek received says RCMP watchdog

CKTZ News, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

There’s been over 90 complaints filed about police actions at the Fairy Creek logging blockade since June 25.

Kate McDerby, director of strategic communications and outreach for the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP (CRCC), confirmed 25 of those complaints are currently being investigated. 

According to their Aug. 25 press release, the RCMP have arrested 810 people since they started enforcing the injunction to prevent people from obstructing, impeding or interfering with Teal Jones logging activities, three months ago.

Photo credit: Someone wearing thin blue line insignia – Photo courtesy Rainforest Flying Squad Facebook page

Fairy Creek is believed to be the last intact old growth watershed in southern Vancouver Island, outside of parks. Protesters first put up a blocade on Aug. 9, 2020 to prevent logging activities in the forest.

CKTZ News contacted the CRCC after RCMP Senior Media Relations Officer S.Sgt. Janelle Shoihet emailed on Aug. 13 and again on Aug. 19 that they had not received any official complaints to date.

“We can also add that there have been no public complaints made to local detachments or the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP (CRCC), which is available to any member of the public if they have concerns about their interactions with police,” Shoihet stated Aug. 13.

“We are not aware that we have received official complaints from any arrested persons as it relates to enforcement in Fairy Creek,” Shoihet stated Aug. 19.

McDerby initially emailed CKTZ that there had been 21 complaints being investigated, but in a subsequent phone call added the number has risen to 25. At least 70 complaints do not fall within the CRCC’s mandate and the individuals either have, or will be, notified in writing.

The complaints being investigated pertain to:

  • Excessive use of force
  • Lack of police identification
  • Refusal of medical attention
  • Inappropriate handling of protestors, legal observers and the media
  • Improper arrest
  • Mishandling of personal belongings
  • Improper enforcement of exclusion zones
  • Lack of PPE (personal protective equipment)
  • Wearing the “thin blue line” emblem, a symbol which is often associated with white supremacist groups.

After the RCMP complete their investigation, they will provide the individual who filed the complaint with a final report.

If the person making the complaint is not satisfied, they may request that the CRCC conduct an independent review of the RCMP’s public complaint investigation.

The chair of the CRCC will then decide whether the matter should be pursued and, if so, how they will proceed.

Chart showing how the the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission handle complaints. Image courtesy of the CRCC.

Chart showing how the the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission handle complaints. Image courtesy of the CRCC.

Audio includes excerpts from Youtube video ‘Cries from Fairy Creek’ posted on the Rainforest Flying Squad Facebook page.

Top photo credit: Three of the police officers stopping media and observers from proceeding further. Screenshot from the video “Cries at Fairy Creek” via the Rainforest Flying Squad Facebook page.

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