Photo Credit: Ora Cogan | The Narwhal

RCMP Protest Squad Being Investigated Following Hundreds of Complaints

Police watchdog is on the case

Allegations range from excessive force, to discrimination, to charter violations.

Five hundred formal complaints over police (mis)behaviour are, quite simply, too many.

At least enough that the federal RCMP watchdog, The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC), is conducting another investigation into the alleged RCMP treatment of logging and climate protestors.

The investigation will focus on the RCMP’s “E” Division project called the “Community-Industry Response Group” or C-IRG in BC.

C-IRG was created in 2017 to police Indigenous and environmental activism targeting the Trans Mountain Pipeline.

But C-IRG has been a source of controversy since its beginning.

The unit has received a steady stream of allegations of excessive force, illegal tactics, unprofessional behaviour, racism, discrimination and charter violations almost since it was launched, according to access-to-information obtained by CBC News.

The allegations have not been proven in a court of law, and the squad’s commanding officer denies them. 

You know what people say about being “in denial.”

It means it’s time to get some help.

Help is finally underway for complainants, but whether it will result in the C-IRG having to clean up their controversial behaviour is still up for question.

The CRCC spokesperson told CBC it would examine RCMP activities strategically over several years to identify potential deficiencies and systemic issues.

RCMP have responded to the news by saying: “We knew about the possibility for a review and have been working co-operatively to ensure that the CRCC have (sic) comprehensive access and a fulsome understanding of the C-IRG’s policies, procedures, practices, guidelines, training and deployments,” wrote media relations officer Staff Sgt. Kris Clark in a statement.

The unit has deployed SWAT teams, crowd-control squads, dogs and helicopters to Wet’suwet’en territory to dismantle blockades interfering with the $14.5-billion Coastal GasLink project.

The CRCC investigation will examine whether the RCMP officers’ past actions fit appropriate roles in policing Coastal GasLink’s injunctions.

They’ll also decide if they violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples legislation.

The CRCC investigation will also focus on the unit’s role in the 2021 injunction enforcement against blockades against old-growth logging in Fairy Creek.

Unfortunately, alleged acts of police brutality and abuse have been showing up more and more in Island News.

We’ll have to wait patiently for the results of the CRCC investigation to see if independent scrutiny can reign in some of the unit’s alleged rogue behaviour.