CAJ calls for the immediate release of arrested journalists reporting from Wet’suwet’en
#CAJ; #journalists; #BrentJolly; #RCMP;
The Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) demands the RCMP immediately release award-winning photojournalist Amber Bracken and documentarian Michael Toledano from police custody with their belongings. The two were illegally arrested by RCMP officers late yesterday afternoon while reporting on the construction of a contentious natural gas pipeline in Wet’suwet’en territory in northern British Columbia.
“As was the case this past summer in Fairy Creek, and several other instances before it, the RCMP has gone outside the law in its efforts to prevent the press from covering events taking place in the public interest. It is an absolute disgrace,” said Brent Jolly, CAJ president. “In fact, in late September, Justice Douglas Thompson of the Supreme Court of British Columbia refused to extend an injunction around Fairy Creek on Vancouver Island because of police misconduct.”
“On multiple occasions, courts and quasi-judicial bodies have been clear that restrictions on media are unjustified in a free and democratic society. Whether through open defiance, or downright ignorance, the RCMP continues to act with outright impunity in defying these legal orders. This audacious subversion of Canadian law cannot — and will not — be tolerated.”
At this point in time, the CAJ is unsure where Bracken or Toledano’s camera equipment is located. If it is with police, the CAJ demands that their property be returned to them, with the contents intact.
On Thursday, the RCMP detained independent filmmaker Melissa Cox, who was later released without charges. This incident marks the second time Cox has been detained while covering a land dispute related to the Wet’suwet’en territory. In March 2020, she was charged with mischief and trespassing at a railway blockade in New Hazelton, B.C. Those charges were thrown out of court last summer.
Both Bracken and Toledano are known to the RCMP as journalists, having spent considerable amounts of time reporting on the land disputes associated with the construction of the Coastal GasLink project. Bracken, who last year was one of three journalists awarded with the CAJ’s Charles Bury Award for her…