A more detailed account of what I witnessed yesterday on the Caycuse Main, unceded Ditidaht territory, south of Lake Cowichan 🧵

Content Warning: police, arrests

#bcpoli #cdnpoli
Yesterday I attended a morning vigil on the Caycuse Main, a logging road on unceded Ditidaht territory that leads into one of the blockade locations on the south Island where old-growth logging is being resisted by grassroots activists and Indigenous land defenders.
I arrived just before 7am, shortly after the vigil began. I learned that the plan was to hold space on the road, turn away industry vehicles (one was turned away when I was there) but not to hold a firm blockade if told by the RCMP to move.
The RCMP arrived about an hour after that, and read part of the injunction over a bullhorn, and told everyone that continuing to block the road would be a violation of the court order and people would be arrested.
#bcpoli #Oldgrowth #CaycuseValley
The RCMP trucks then left, and the assumption was that they would return and ask people to clear the road, which again, it seemed like everyone planned to.

But something completely different happened.
About half an hour after the first two RCMP trucks left, at least 60 officers in dozens of vehicles arrived, from both directions, and without a request to clear the road, told everyone on site that they were under arrest.
#bcpoli #oldgrowth @bccla
The police liaisons and spokesperson for the vigil, an Indigenous youth, questioned this, and were both immediately grabbed and arrested. The next moments were hectic and tense, and in total 8 people were arrested, mostly police liaisons and legal observers.
The rest of us were kettled into the mouth of another spur road.

At this point the police again reiterated that everyone would be arrested, and said that it would be done orderly and asked to speak to a remaining police liaison.
A media relations officer identified himself and cleared six of us as observer groups and media who wouldn't be arrested. @wildernews' Emily Hoffpauir has been doing incredible documentation work at the Caycuse blockade the last week, and they accepted me based on that.
A separate area was taped off and we were contained there. Over the course of the next 11 hours, the RCMP arrested the remaining 33 people, and towed all the vehicles. A total of 41 people arrested, including a dozen Indigenous youth, none of whom intended or planned to be.
The police presence was heavy and intimidating, and included officers openly displaying the 'thin blue line' badge, which the @rcmpgrcpolice has told its members not to wear while on duty: thestar.com/news/canada/20…
I've posted more photos from the day on facebook, here: facebook.com/media/set?set=…
This was an extremely heavy day, but my experience needs to be put in the proper context. While there were moments where I felt genuinely anxious and afraid, the fact is, as a white man I am safer around institutions like the RCMP than are many of the people who were arrested.
I can't imagine the terror or trauma this day caused for the young Indigenous land defenders who were there. I am thinking of and sending my thoughts to them today, and I ask you to do the same.
It should be reflected on that this vigil had both prevalent Indigenous leadership and participation than other actions around the blockades happening in Pacheedaht and Ditidaht territories right now, and a much, much swifter and more severe RCMP reaction.
As this battle wears on, and more grows about the Indigenous people leading much of the efforts and the strong message of decolonization at the centre of their work, we need to ensure the safety of vulnerable Indigenous activists and respect for their words and messages.
Thank you for reading and please take care of yourself ✊🏻❤️

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