Second encampment removed from legislative grounds
Tents dismantled, sacred fire snuffed
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An encampment on the east grounds of the Manitoba Legislative Building, established in June 2021 following the discovery of unmarked graves at the former sites of Canadian residential schools, was dismantled by law enforcement officials Saturday morning.
Smoke rose from a sacred fire — which the organizers vowed would burn until all unmarked, residential school graves were located — around 9 a.m., by which time the encampment had been cleared and only a few law enforcement officers and bylaw officials remained on scene.
The move comes a little more than two weeks after a second, unaffiliated encampment — on the north side of the legislative grounds — was dismantled.
The north encampment had primarily been composed of supporters of the “freedom convoy” movement. Police said at the time that weapons were seized at the north encampment and seven people were arrested.
Both encampments had been presented with eviction notices, and given one week to vacate, on Aug. 17.
Following the dismantling of the north encampment, a member of the east encampment told the Free Press they hoped the government would allow them to stay so the sacred fire could remain lit.
At the time, Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen characterized the east encampment as representing an “operational issue,” and said the Winnipeg Police Service was the lead law enforcement agency on the file.
Manitoba Justice Sheriffs and bylaw officers could be seen at the site Saturday morning, suggesting the dismantling of the encampment was a joint operation involving multiple agencies.
In a statement released Saturday afternoon, the WPS said none of its officers were involved in dismantling the encampment and had not removed any people or personal belongings.
Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.
Updated on Saturday, October 22, 2022 1:15 PM CDT: removes reference that Winnipeg police officers were involved in dismantling the encampment.
Updated on Saturday, October 22, 2022 1:46 PM CDT: Adds comments from WPS.
Updated on Saturday, October 22, 2022 3:15 PM CDT: Tweaks headline