SMITHS FALLS, ON – The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) has taken action to resolve protest activity and remove the barriers to rail service in and near Tyendinaga Township.
The blockade has been done by the Mohawks of Tyendinaga who have shut down passenger and freight train traffic for more than two weeks at that location in support of the call of Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs. The Mohawks said that the blockade would remain until the RCMP left the traditional lands.
Over the weekend, the British Columbia government released letters shutting down construction at the Coastal Gaslink pipeline and giving the company thirty day to further consult with the Wet’suwet’en.
On Sunday, the OPP met with the land defenders and told them that if they were still on the blockade at midnight, they would be subject to arrest.
This morning, the OPP have started to arrest people who are blocking the railway line near Tyendinaga. Six people have been arrested so far.
In a media release, the OPP say, “Since Thursday, February 6, OPP members have been meeting regularly and communicating with various representatives of the people protesting in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en peoples of British Columbia.
“Following its court-endorsed Framework for Police Preparedness for Indigenous Critical Incidents, the OPP Provincial Liaison Team has engaged in significant collaborative and respectful dialogue aimed at bringing about a peaceful resolution while ensuring everyone’s safety and preserving their respective rights guaranteed by Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. To date, there had been no arrests made and no one has been injured.
“We have remained respectful of the ongoing dialogue, including issues of sovereignty between our Indigenous communities and various federal ministers, and have hoped for productive communication leading to a peaceful resolution. The OPP notes the broader societal impacts of this extended protest have correspondingly increased risks to public safety closer to the protest sites. Unfortunately, all avenues to successfully negotiate a peaceful resolution have been exhausted and a valid court injunction remains in effect.
“The OPP has a legal responsibility to enforce the injunction and began doing so this morning. The OPP has called upon all those involved to abide by the injunction and leave the area and to not put public peace or anyone’s safety in jeopardy. All people are being encouraged to leave the demonstration site peacefully. Enforcement of the injunction may include arrest of those who choose not to comply, however, use of force remains a last resort.
“The OPP will continue to follow and engage in communication while enforcing the injunction. Open communication, a reasoned and tempered approach, and proper use of police discretion guides the OPP’s response to this and other major events.”