Author Archives: Red Power Media, Staff

Supreme Court says companies must pay for mercury-contaminated mill site at Grassy Narrows

Ontario government ordered 2 companies to do remedial work 8 years ago

Two companies are on the hook for looking after a mercury-contaminated site near Ontario’s Grassy Narrows First Nation, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled.

The 4-3 decision Friday brought some clarity to a long-running dispute over one element of the legacy of environmental poisoning that has caused significant health problems for many residents.

Eight years ago, the Ontario government ordered Weyerhaeuser Co. and a firm that later became Resolute Forest Products to care for a mercury waste-disposal site in Dryden, Ont., where toxic material from a pulp-and-paper mill’s operations entered the English-Wabigoon River system in the 1960s.

The order obligated the two companies to repair site erosion, do water testing, file annual reports, prevent any leaks and give the Ontario Environment Ministry $273,063 as financial assurance with respect to the site.

The companies claimed that an indemnity granted in 1985 to the owners of the paper facility at the time — part of a settlement with the Grassy Narrows and Islington First Nations — applied to them as well, but the province disagreed.

An Ontario judge ruled in favour of the companies in 2016, saying the language of the indemnity should cover the two subsequent owners as well.

However, the Ontario Court of Appeal found Resolute was not entitled to indemnification and said the lower court should decide whether it applied to Weyerhaeuser.

In its decision, the Supreme Court said the 1985 indemnity does not apply to the province’s 2011 environmental order, meaning the companies are liable for the costs of carrying it out.

A majority of the high court substantially agreed with the Ontario appeal-court’s reasoning, concluding the judge who initially heard the case made “palpable and overriding errors of fact.”

The Canadian Press · Posted: Dec 06, 2019

[SOURCE]

Saskatchewan chief saddened by lack of help to stop suicides

Chief Ron Mitsuing of the Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation voices his concerns about a suicide crisis in his community at the Legislative Building in Regina on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2019. Photo by The Canadian Press/Mark Taylor

The chief of a northern Saskatchewan First Nation says he is disappointed at the lack of long-term help from the provincial and federal governments to deal with what he says is a suicide crisis.

Ronald Mitsuing of the Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation, along with another band leader, met in Regina on Wednesday with ministers and the deputy premier.

The leaders are concerned about what they are calling “cluster suicides” in their community of Loon Lake, about 360 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon.

They say there have been three suicides, including one by a 10-year-old girl, in three weeks and eight suicide attempts, mostly by young people.

Mitsuing said he asked Premier Scott Moe and officials for help now, as well as for a long-term suicide prevention strategy to help all First Nations.

“Things are happening now. They can’t wait anymore,” he said.

“Kids are losing their lives and, if they keep waiting, it’s going to happen again.”

Mitsuing said Saskatchewan Health Authority officials sent to help his community will eventually leave and temporary assistance isn’t enough to prevent future deaths.

He wants community members to be trained on how to spot signs of suicidal thoughts and on how to properly respond.

“Right now our teachers are also burning out over there. They’re stressed. Our whole community, front-line workers, are stressed.”

Rural and Remote Health Minister Warren Kaeding said the first step was to provide immediate help, which has been done, and then to plan for any medium- and long-term solutions.

“It’s a little early in the juncture to determine what those services are, but that’s something that’s going to be community-led, and we’ll certainly have those conversations with officials,” he said.

The Ministry of Health is reviewing its services and looking at what is offered elsewhere in Canada.

The Opposition NDP has put forward a private member’s bill that would create a suicide prevention strategy. Its leader says the Saskatchewan Party government has failed to act on reducing poverty and developing economic opportunities in the north.

“Nothing that we’ve seen from them so far indicates that they actually take this seriously which … causes me to wonder whether this is something they care about,” said Ryan Meili.

Band CEO Barry Mitsuing Chalifoux said an ongoing strategy would better help prevent suicide crises and give local governments ideas on what resources could be of help in their communities.

He said federal Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller called last week to offer his condolences. Chalifoux said he understands work is being done by federal officials to see what support may be coming and he believes they will respond.

“I’m just hoping they do that soon,” Chalifoux said.

The First Nation wants parenting programs and funding to hire additional supports in order to monitor its youth, he said.

In the fall of 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called several suicides by children in northern Saskatour girls between the ages of 10 and 14 had taken their own lives over a short period of time.

“We continue to be committed to working with Indigenous communities across the country to deal with this ever-occurring tragedy,” he said at the time.

Earlier that year, a string of suicide attempts in Attawapiskat in northern Ontario garnered international media attention when the Cree community declared a state of emergency.

By The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2019.

[SOURCE]

Trans Mountain monitoring anti-pipeline activists, labelling some as ‘persons of interest’

Kanahus Manuel, centre, is the focus of many of Trans Mountain Corporation’s activity reports that were obtained by CBC News.

The federally owned Trans Mountain Corporation is monitoring pipeline opponents and designating some as persons of interest who warrant closer scrutiny, according to internal records provided to CBC News.

The Trans Mountain documents show its security officials recorded the names of individuals who posted anti-pipeline videos and statements on social media, along with the names of those tagged in the posts or who shared the content.

Trans Mountain also singled out two individuals it considered to be persons of interest — labelled “POI” in the documents — and compiled information on their movements and their interactions with different protest groups targeting other resource projects.

A person of interest is a police term used to identify an individual who may be a witness or connected to a crime, but is not a suspect.

In one instance, outlined in the documents, a Trans Mountain security official reported the company had uncovered the legal name of an activist, labelled a “core POI” who was using an alias. The documents detailed the movements of the individual, past activist history and their relationship with other protest and Indigenous groups.

Scrutiny of Tiny House Warriors

“New information about a core POI confirms the Tiny House Warrior Camp [which refers to a protest camp in northern B.C.] is attracting some fringe and more extreme activists,” the document says.

The Tiny House Warriors set up five tiny houses last year in an area around Blue River, B.C., which is about 230 kilometres north of Kamloops. The group also has a second camp about 60 km north of Blue River, in an area around Valemount near the Moonbeam Bridge, where they have set up a yurt.

The area where both camps are set up is in the path of the pipeline project and within the territory of the Secwepemc Nation, which those in the camp say has not consented to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, though some bands in the nation have signed onto the project.

The activities of individuals connected to the Tiny House Warriors is a prime concern in the documents.

Ottawa bought Trans Mountain Corp. for $4.5 billion in 2018. It is a Crown corporation accountable to Parliament through the Canada Development Investment Corporation, which reports to the minister of finance. It is subject to federal laws and policies on privacy.

Trans Mountain Corp. is responsible for a pipeline expansion project that would twin an existing pipeline from a terminal east of Edmonton to a marine terminal in Burnaby, B.C.

Who else sees this information?

The corporation would not say what it does with the names it gathers in its reports or how it determines someone to be a person of interest. Nor would it answer questions on whether it shares this information with other federal departments or the RCMP.

“Trans Mountain’s first priority is safety and we are committed to protecting the integrity of our facilities, the safety of our employees, contractors and the general public,” the corporation said in an emailed statement to CBC News.

“We are aware of publicly available commentary, including posts on social media related to the industry, our operations and the expansion project.”

The documents, about 55 partially redacted pages, were obtained under the Access to Information Act and provided to CBC News by Joe Killoran, a lawyer with the Jensen Law Group in Kamloops, B.C.

Joe Killoran, a lawyer representing Kanahus Manuel, provided the documents to CBC News.

Killoran represents Kanahus Manuel, a Secwepemc warrior who has been one of the leading spokespeople for the Tiny House Warriors, a group which is opposed to the Trans Mountain expansion. Manuel is one of the main subjects in the documents.

Many of the documents are “activity reports” compiled by Trans Mountain. The activity reports provided to CBC News appear to cover a period between Dec. 6, 2018, and Dec. 12, 2018, and an area between Hope, B.C., located 150 kilometres east of Vancouver, and the Alberta border.

The activity reports primarily contain social media information, along with short commentaries on anti-pipeline social media chatter on Facebook and Twitter, planned demonstrations, along with analysis and descriptions of the situation on the ground.

“Tensions are rising between locals and pro-pipeline individuals … and the Tiny House Warrior camp,” reads one entry.  “Further incidents between THWs and locals are likely.”

Another entry noted that Greenpeace Canada had tweeted in support of some members of the Tiny House Warriors who had been arrested following a protest in Kamloops, B.C., on Dec. 10, 2018, and that video was circulating of the event.

“The Tiny House Warrior protest at the Kamloops meeting was again a publicly stunt that will be used to gain attention for the group and for Greenpeace,” said the entry. “The video and arrests will be used to gain sympathy from Indigenous people in order to build support and legitimize their own campaigns.”

Killoran said he was surprised by one of the documents in their description of the activists.

“They seemed to perceive them as the enemy who needed to be spied on or checked on, even though they didn’t have any evidence of anything being illegal,” he said.

The dates of the reports cover the time period when Frank Iacobucci, a former Supreme Court justice, was holding consultation meetings with First Nations leaders on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion in Kamloops, Vancouver and Victoria.

Iacobucci was appointed in 2018 by Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government to lead a new round of consultations after the Federal Court of Appeal quashed cabinet approval of the expansion project partly because Ottawa failed to adequately consult Indigenous communities.

New appeals by First Nations

The Federal Court of Appeal also recently allowed a new round of appeals from several First Nations who are challenging the adequacy of the last round of consultations.

Manuel is facing mischief and intimidation charges related to two incidents in September and October involving a Trans Mountain facility — where the RCMP said a padlock was stolen and workers faced confrontation from demonstrators — and involving a road-work crew near Valemount, B.C.— where the RCMP said demonstrator disrupted their work.

Killoran said Manuel is pleading not guilty in both cases.

Killoran said Manuel’s wrist was fractured during her last arrest near Valemount on Oct. 19. Manuel said her wrist was put in a cast after a hospital visit following her release. The RCMP denied she was injured.

Jeffrey Monaghan, associate professor at Carleton University’s Institute of Criminology and Justice, is concerned that the monitoring interferes with right to free expression.

Jeffrey Monaghan, an associate professor of criminology at Carleton University, said the documents raise troubling questions about the type of information Trans Mountain is gathering, how it’s being stored and who has access to it.

“It raises all kinds of questions about what it means to have rights of expression in a democracy,” said Monaghan, who co-wrote a book called Policing Indigenous Movements, which examines how Canadian police, military and intelligence agencies surveil activists.

Monaghan said he saw this type of information gathering around the Idle No More movement, a national Indigenous rights movement that sprang up during the winter of 2012-2013.

He said some of the information contained in the documents — the tracking of movements of some activists — seemed to suggest it came from sources beyond social media posts.

“This data is travelling. This is kind of a non-policing entity that is doing all kinds of surveillance and data accumulation that is patched in to the policing establishment,” he said.

Monaghan referred to an incident report in the documents about a small but boisterous protest on Dec. 10, 2018, at Thompson River University in Kamloops, B.C, that used drums and red paint — which was used to leave hand prints on the wall of a university building and dumped on the sidewalk — to disrupt one of Iacobucci’s consultation meetings with First Nations leaders.

The incident report shows Trans Mountain discussed security plans for the meeting with Natural Resources Canada security, the RCMP and security for the university.

Natural Resources Canada referred questions to Trans Mountain.

The RCMP did not respond to a request for comment.

Asked for a response to Trans Mountain’s tactics, Pierre-Olivier Herbert, a spokesperson for Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s office, said in an emailed statement that the government “expects Trans Mountain to adhere to the highest ethical standards and in a manner that is respectful of individual privacy.”

Kanahus Manuel, centre, pictured here doing construction, says she is undeterred by on-line surveillance.

The activity reports primarily focused on Manuel’s posts in connection to protests, while listing those she tagged, as well as those who responded with comments or shared her videos.

Manuel said the ongoing surveillance won’t deter her opposition to the pipeline expansion.

She said the majority of Indigenous people oppose the pipeline expansion and the resistance is much deeper than what surfaces on social media.

“A lot of the underground is getting prepared and is getting strong culturally, spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally,” she said.

“I don’t stand alone. I don’t hold that fear of them. I know I am not alone. They don’t want to make a martyr out of me, because the whole country will uprise.”

The documents also designated two additional individuals, who have participated in Tiny House Warrior actions, as persons of interest.

The POIs

Trans Mountain gathered an extensive amount of information on one of those individuals, Freddy Stoneypoint, an Anishinaabe man who attended Carleton University and was involved in the 2017 Canada Day teepee protest on Parliament Hill, the documents show.

In a section subtitled, “POI Freddy Stoneypoint aka Zaagaasige GIIZIS,” the document says Trans Mountain discovered his real name.

“It was recently learned that GIIZIS’ legal name is Freddy Stoneypoint, approximately 31 years of age and was a Carleton University student in 2017.”

Freddy Stoneypoint, far left, was labelled a core person of interest by Trans Mountain Corporation security reports. Stoneypoint is pictured here with Candace Day Neveu during the 2017 Canada Day teepee protest.

The document, which identifies Stoneypoint as a “core POI,” does not say how the corporation learned this information. It does say Stoneypoint was involved in the Canada Day teepee protest and a blockade on an oil exploration well in August 2017, 20 kilometres north of Gaspé, Que. — information available online.

The report notes that Stoneypoint arrived at a Tiny House Warrior camp in the summer of 2018, but that he had since left to join a Line 3 protest against an Enbridge pipeline replacement project in Manitoba. The report says he had a “falling out” with the “matriarch” of the Line 3 protest and refers to posts on Facebook as evidence.

CBC News provided screen grabs of the report to Stoneypoint, who said the information they had on him was “flimsy.”

Stoneypoint said he wasn’t surprised because he already knew the RCMP had a file on him based on what he saw in Gaspé.

“I guess it kind of like affirms the level of attention I am receiving for essentially nothing,” he said.

“It speaks to the level of uncertainty my defence work poses to the state. As a result, their reaction is to tighten whatever rule of law amplifies repressive tactics against Native people just for being on the land.”

An excerpt from a Trans Mountain Corporation ‘activity report’ that indicates Freddy Stoneypoint as a person of interest. (CBC News)

Another entry documents social media activity around the Dec. 10, 2018, protest of Iacobucci’s consultation meetings with First Nation leaders at Thompson River University.

The protest resulted in the arrest of two of Manuel’s sisters and her brother-in-law.

“Kanahus Manuel was not present at the protest, but rather remained in Blue River at the [Tiny House Warrior] camp. Her posts demonstrate she watched the livestream through her phone,” the document says.

“The anti-TM community has joined in on sharing the videos, expressing their outrage over the arrests.”

The document then lists the names of four people who responded to the videos and included screen images of Facebook and Twitter posts.

‘Really creepy’

Another partially redacted activity report notes that Manuel commented on a video that was posted to her Facebook timeline.

It says Manuel tagged a woman named Denise Douglas, who lives “in Rosedale near Chilliwack.” This information is publicly available on Douglas’s Facebook page.

Denise Douglas, of the Cheam First Nation, crouches on the ground in front of police officers as she demands access to a building where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was meeting with the Indigenous Advisory and Monitoring Committee, on the Cheam First Nation near Chilliwack, B.C., on Tuesday, June 5, 2018. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

The entry then names another individual, indicating that she “also shared this video on her timeline” and that she tagged six other people, who are all named in the report.

Douglas, who lives in Cheam First Nation, said she has never been to any of the protest sites set up by Manuel. Douglas said she and Manuel’s family have known each other for generations.

“I’d say it was an infringement of my privacy, especially if they are following me now,” she said.

Douglas said that while she opposes the pipeline expansion, she has focused on challenging her band council for signing a deal with Kinder Morgan, the previous owner of the pipeline.

“Are they singling me out? Are they profiling me? Because you know, it feels like it,” she said.

“I do care that my name is out there … I find it really creepy.”

An excerpt from the Trans Mountain Corporation documents that shows the name of Denise Douglas recorded in report along with other individuals, redacted by CBC News, who interacted with the posted video. (CBC News)

By: Jorge Barrera · CBC News · 

[SOURCE]

Law Enforcement Crushing Pipeline Dissent in Minnesota at Water Protectors’ Blockade of Enbridge Terminal

Water protectors on Monday blocked the entrance to an Enbridge terminal in Minnesota to display ongoing opposition to the proposed Line 3 tar sands project. (Photo: ResistLine3 via Twitter)

by , Common Dreams. Published November 25, 2019.

Police were about to saw off the leg of a tripod from which a protester was hanging, activists said.

Police in Clearbrook, Minnesota were accused of putting the “profits of oil companies before human life” after activists said law enforcement on Monday began sawing the leg of a tripod from which a tar sands protester was suspended.

An estimated 30 protesters blockaded the entrance to Enbrige’s Clearbrook Terminal in a display of ongoing opposition to the oil company’s proposed Line 3 project, which would bring tar sands from Alberta to a Wisconsin shipping hub, passing through Minnesota.

Several activists held a large banner across the road to the entrance reading “Stop Line 3. Protect the Sacred.” They stood in front of 21-year-old Sara-Beth Anderson, who was suspended from the tripod.

The ResistLine3 Twitter account shared photos and details about the action on social media, including that police began to saw one of the tripod legs, prompting Anderson to come down on her own to avoid bodily harm.

After Anderson descended, she was taken into police custody.

In a press statement ahead of the action, Anderson said she was undertaking “this risk for the unborn, for the Indigenous peoples fighting to protect their territories all over the planet, for the oceans.”

The Line 3 project has been the target of sustained criticism and protests over its threats to human rights and the environment, including jeopardizing water resources.

Critics say the pipeline project would violate tribal nations’ sovereignty and expands fossil fuel infrastructure when the climate crisis shows the need to stop investing in dirty fuels.

StopLine3 noted an additional concern in a tweet on Monday. “With projects like Line 3 come man camps that increase violence against Indigenous women. 1 in 3 native women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. This ongoing colonialism must end. We must #StopLine3.”

The power of protest hasn’t gone without the notice of law enforcement.  According to records obtained earlier this year by The Intercept, Minnesota police looked to the example North Dakota law enforcement set in their harsh crackdown of Standing Rock protesters to gear up for their own potential crackdown of Line 3 protesters.

“The destruction of the sacred is happening because of these terrible decisions to keep extracting, to keep harming the Earth despite what climate science has told the world’s leaders,” Anderson said in her statement.

“Anyone can take a stand against the greatest threat facing our shared world,” she added, “get involved, get involved now.”

This article originally appeared at Common Dreams. It is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Feel free to republish and share widely.

Keystone XL: police discussed stopping anti-pipeline activists ‘by any means’

Demonstrators against the Keystone XL pipeline walking to a federal courthouse in in Rapid City, South Dakota, in June. Photograph: Adam Fondren/AP

Revealed: records show law enforcement has called demonstrators possible ‘domestic terrorism’ threats

US law enforcement officials preparing for fresh Keystone XL pipeline protests have privately discussed tactics to stop activists “by any means” and have labeled demonstrators potential “domestic terrorism” threats, records reveal.

Internal government documents seen by the Guardian show that police and local authorities in Montana and the surrounding region have been preparing a coordinated response in the event of a new wave of protests opposing the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, which would carry crude oil from Canada to Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.

Civil rights organizations say the documents raise concerns that law enforcement is preparing to launch an even more brutal and aggressive response than the police tactics utilized during the 2016 Standing Rock movement, which drew thousands of indigenous and environmental activists opposed to the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) to North Dakota.

At Standing Rock, law enforcement organized repeated rounds of mass arrests and filed a wide array of serious charges in local and federal courts against activists. Police also deployed water cannons, teargas grenades, bean bag rounds and other weapons, causing serious injuries to protesters.

The documents are mostly emails from 2017 and 2018 between local and federal authorities discussing possible Keystone protests. They show that police officials are anticipating construction will spark a sustained resistance campaign akin to the one at Standing Rock and that police are considering closing public lands near the pipeline project.

The new records have come to light as the Keystone pipeline project has overcome numerous legal hurdles with help from the Trump administration, and as the project’s owner, TC Energy (formerly TransCanada), is moving forward with initial construction efforts.

Among the major revelations in the documents:

  • Officials at a 2017 law enforcement briefing on potential Keystone XL protests said one key tactic would be to “initially deny access to the property by protestors and keep them as far away [from] the contested locations as possible by any means”, according to an email summary from a US army corps of engineers security manager in Nebraska in July 2017.
  • Officials with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) said in 2017 that the bureau had 10 armed officers in Montana and was prepared to “work with local [law enforcement] to deny access to federal property”. In 2018, army corps officials were also in discussions with the Montana disaster and emergency services department to discuss ways to “close access” to lands near the pipeline route, including areas typically open for hunting and other activities.
  • A “joint terrorism task force” involving the US attorney’s office and other agencies, along with federal “counterterrorism” officials, said it was prepared to assist in the response to protests and a “critical incident response team” would be available for “domestic terrorism or threats to critical infrastructure”. Authorities have also pre-emptively discussed specific potential felony charges that protesters could face, noting that a “civil disorder” statute was used to prosecute activists at Standing Rock.

“There is a lot of muscle behind this effort to make sure that Keystone is constructed,” said Alex Rate, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana, which obtained the documents through records act requests and shared them with the Guardian. “There are historically marginalized communities, primarily indigenous folks, who have grave concerns about the impact of this pipeline on their sovereignty, their resources, their religion and culture. They have a first amendment right to assemble and make their viewpoints heard.”

Remi Bald Eagle, intergovernmental affairs coordinator of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe, which is located along the pipeline route, said the police buildup was part of a long history of armed subjugation of native people in the region.
“This is an experience of the tide of Manifest Destiny still coming at us,” Bald Eagle said, referring to the 19th-century belief that US settlers had the right to expand across the continent.

The files follow repeated revelations that the FBI and other law enforcement agencies have investigated environmental groups and leftwing activists as possible “terrorists”.

Opponents of the Keystone XL oil pipeline are seen demonstrating in sub-freezing temperatures last month in Billings, Montana. Photograph: Matthew Brown/AP

Keystone XL was rejected by the Obama administration and then revived by Donald Trump shortly after his inauguration in 2017. The $8bn project has been subject to multiple legal challenges, including over the environmental review process, but pre-construction efforts are now under way.

Opponents of Keystone XL have warned about the environmental and cultural impact of the project for a decade – concerns that came into sharper focus last month after the existing Keystone pipeline, which follows a similar route, leaked 383,000 gallons of tar sands into a swath of North Dakota wetlands.

The new Keystone records, which come from a number of government agencies and were released after a protracted legal battle, also show that officials have specifically met with police involved in the Standing Rock response to discuss “lessons learned”. North Dakota police officials told law enforcement prepping for Keystone that one of their biggest mistakes was their failure to keep activists far away and shut down access to nearby lands.

In one 2018 BLM document, labeled “KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE PUBLIC SAFETY ISSUES”, officials discussed the “available resources” to respond to protests in Montana.

“The FBI will have primary investigative authority for all national security investigations, including but not limited to international terrorism, domestic terrorism, and weapons of mass destruction,” BLM wrote.

US border patrol would also be available to assist law enforcement around the border and has access to “drone assets”, the document continued. Border patrol also provided a surveillance drone that police used to track Standing Rock protesters.

BLM also discussed purchasing “riot batons”, helmets and gas masks in advance of possible protests.

Mike Glasch, an army corps spokesman, said that the “by any means” comment came from the agency’s security chief, who was “relaying talking points” from police officials in Mandan and Morton County in North Dakota, adding: “Any method that we would employ to protect the safety of our employees and the public, as well as property and equipment, would be within the limits of the law and be the least invasive possible, while still protecting the public’s first amendment rights.”

A spokesperson for the Morton county sheriff, Kyle Kirchmeier, said he advises law enforcement that “may be involved with potential pipeline protests to make it their goal to keep protesters off of private property and any areas that may be considered a public hazard, such as ditches or highways”, adding that he “is supportive of people’s right to protest, but they need to do so in a lawful manner”. Kirchmeier said he did not recall the 2017 briefing.

A Mandan police spokesperson declined to comment.

Glasch said the army corps had not closed access to its land around the project, but added: “Since a construction site comes with inherent hazards, options are being analyzed for methods to keep any non-essential personnel away from potential construction sites, while at the same time considering constitutional rights.” He said it was too early to speculate about specific potential closure plans.

A spokesperson for the US attorney’s office did not respond to questions about the “terrorism” references but said the office’s “goal is to provide coordinated assistance to local, tribal and state law enforcement to protect public safety and civil rights, and to protect federal lands, while enforcing federal law”.

The FBI declined to comment.

A border patrol spokesperson said the agency would “assist, upon request, with any law enforcement activities within the border area near the pipeline”.

Spokespeople for BLM and TC Energy did not respond to questions.

“Law enforcement are getting ready. They’ve been having meetings behind closed doors,” said Angeline Cheek, an indigenous organizer from the Fort Peck reservation. “We know that they’re preparing … We’ve been preparing for the last three years.”

Rate, from the ACLU, said there was no legal justification for the government to pre-emptively shut down lands in an effort to stop protests. He said it was also troubling for law enforcement to prepare a “militarized” response and suggest that activists could pose terrorist or criminal threats before any actions had even begun.

“They are thinking of them as potential ‘domestic terrorists’. There is simply no support for adopting that paradigm,” said Rate. “The public justifiably thinks of BLM as a land management agency and not necessarily in the business of arming themselves and going out and squelching protesters.”

Candi Brings Plenty, an Oglala Lakota Sioux activist working with the ACLU of Montana, said they were not surprised to learn that law enforcement was talking about stopping indigenous activists “by any means”.

“That is the type of language that has been spoken to us our whole lives,” they said, adding: “We live these injustices on a daily basis. This is finally being unveiled for what it is.”

Brings Plenty, who led a two-spirit camp at Standing Rock, said they would not be intimidated by law enforcement and hoped people would still support the fight against Keystone – instead of just accepting the pipeline.

“It’s almost become the norm for folks to look the other way, feeling like there isn’t something they can do, that it’s beyond their grasp,” they said. “I want folks to see these pipelines the way they do the glaciers in the arctic. This is happening right here in their own front yard.”

By: Sam Levin and Will Parrish. Posted in The Guardian, Nov 25, 2019.

[SOURCE]