Police move against attempt to expand legislature encampment
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 03/10/2022 (250 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
MORE than 50 city police and provincial peace officers gathered outside the Manitoba legislature Monday, and some anti-government protesters who had been occupying the grounds in front of the main entrance were arrested.
Witnesses said a confrontation began when police prevented the delivery of wooden poles to erect what would have been a third teepee at the encampment.
Demonstrators have been occupying the site for months in front of the north entrance to the building. They claim not to recognize any elected government nor the provincial law that prohibits tents or encampments on the legislature grounds for security reasons.
On Monday afternoon, dozens of police vehicles lined Broadway and the driveway entrance to the Manitoba Legislative Building as some of the protesters yelled “shame” at the officers.
Encampment supporter Phil McLellan said he saw officers violently arrest some of the members of its so-called “law lodge.” McLellan said he recorded video of some protesters thrown to the ground, but wasn’t able to share it with reporters because his phone battery died.
Media covering question period, and others inside the legislature, were prevented from leaving the front doors of the building during and after the confrontation.
The teepee poles are sacred objects being given to the clan mother Si Pih Ko (also known as Trina Francois), who has made her home in front of the legislature to educate officials on what is her sovereign right as an individual not bound by treaties or legislation, McLellan said.
In recent days, conservation officers who have been providing added security at the legislature prevented firewood and food from being delivered, too, he said.
“They were cutting off the necessities of life. This is her home. She literally lives here,” McLellan said of the woman who made headlines singing in Cree an angry protest version of O Canada during Pope Francis’ visit to Canada in July.
On Monday, her plaintive cry rang out on Memorial Boulevard as she carried one of the teepee poles away from the legislative grounds.
A sheriff’s department van carrying boisterous demonstrators left the legislature grounds in the afternoon, while dozens of city police, sheriff, Manitoba conservation and legislative protective services officers remained behind.
The Winnipeg Police Service provided no details about why they were called to the legislature, other than “to assist provincial authorities.”
A statement from Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen said the police action was in response to growing security concerns over the past several weeks.
“These include verbal assaults and threats to staff, visitors and tourists to the building,” he said. “During this time, security services have observed individuals in possession of weapons, body armour and military-style clothing.
“Public safety concerns prompted some arrests over the past few weeks.”
In August, an eviction notice were issued to the encampment started by organizers of the so-called “freedom convoy” that blocked Memorial Boulevard for most of February.
One was also issued at the time to the encampment on the east side of the legislature. On Monday, there was little visible activity at that collection of tents set up more than a year ago, following the discovery of potential unmarked graves at former residential school sites.
After an incident over the weekend, encampment occupants publicized a rally that was to be held Monday afternoon, the justice minister said.
Bill 18 (Legislative Security Amendment Act) has been in place since June 1 and prohibits erecting or occupying any tents, shelters or encampments on the grounds of the legislature.
It also bars anyone from depositing items, such as generators, portable toilets, firewood or trailers in the legislative precinct that would support people staying in the precinct for an extended period. Those who break the law are subject to a maximum $5,000 fine.
— with files from Maggie Macintosh
After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.