Photojournalist, information group file lawsuit in opposition to RCMP over 2021 arrest

VANCOUVER – Canadian photojournalist Amber Bracken and information group the Narwhal have filed a lawsuit in opposition to the RCMP, claiming Bracken was wrongfully arrested and detained for 3 nights whereas reporting on a British Columbia pipeline dispute.

The lawsuit seeks a courtroom declaration that Bracken’s constitutional rights to liberty and freedom of the press had been unlawfully breached in November 2021, when police arrested her throughout an operation to implement an injunction granted to the corporate constructing the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

The declare filed in B.C. Supreme Courtroom on Monday argues Bracken didn’t breach the injunction as a result of she was there as a journalist and the RCMP had been notified that she was a member of the media earlier than, throughout and after her arrest.

Narwhal government editor Carol Linnitt says the outlet had written to the RCMP the day earlier than the arrest, alerting them to Bracken’s presence, and he or she carried a letter of project together with digicam gear and tags indicating she was a journalist.

Linnitt informed a press convention outdoors B.C. Supreme Courtroom that Bracken’s arrest was the newest in “a string of incidents that show a troubling lack of regard for freedom of the press by Canadian police,” together with earlier arrests of journalists at Indigenous-led protests in Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Not one of the claims have been examined in courtroom and statements haven’t but been filed in response to the lawsuit, which lists the B.C. and federal governments, RCMP Chief Supt. John Brewer and three unknown RCMP officers as defendants.

The Narwhal didn’t file the lawsuit solely for its personal staff and Bracken, “however to clear a path for all journalists in Canada to do their work with out threat of police interference,” editor-in-chief Emma Gilchrist informed the information convention.

“Infringements on press freedom by police affect the general public’s proper to know.”

The lawsuit additionally claims particular and punitive damages over Bracken’s arrest.

Bracken says she was in Moist’suwet’en territory on what she thought could be a preliminary reporting journey to go to a number of camps arrange by these against the pure gasoline pipeline, however unbeknownst to her, tensions had been escalating.

She says she was already behind the boundary of an exclusion zone police arrange as a part of their operation, and on the morning of the arrests, she was inside a “tiny home,” which she had chosen as the very best vantage level for taking pictures.

Bracken says officers arrived by helicopter and emerged from the woods to encompass the construction, breaking down the door with an axe and chainsaw.

Though Bracken says she instantly informed them she was a journalist, she was arrested and remained in custody for 3 nights.

“As a journalist, I by no means wished to be the story,” she says. “However the police took that call from me, after they lastly made it unimaginable for me to do my job.”

Bracken and a documentary filmmaker had been initially charged with civil contempt of courtroom and conditionally launched by a choose three days after their arrests, however the subsequent month, courtroom paperwork confirmed the fees wouldn’t be pursued.

Bracken has labored on a contract foundation for The Canadian Press.

Opposition amongst Moist’suwet’en hereditary chiefs to the 670-kilometre pipeline sparked rallies and rail blockades throughout Canada in 2020, whereas the elected council of the Moist’suwet’en First Nation and others close by have agreed to the challenge.

A building up to date posted by Coastal GasLink final month says building is almost 80 per cent full on the pipeline that might transport pure gasoline from Dawson Creek in northeastern B.C. to a processing facility on the coast in Kitimat.

This report by The Canadian Press was first printed Feb. 13, 2023.

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