NORMAN, Oklahoma — The Native American Journalists Association stands with “Ricochet Media – Public Interest Journalism” in their condemnation of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s (RCMP) removal and eight-hour detention of journalist Jerome Turner on Friday.
Turner was covering raids at the Gidimt’en checkpoint in unceded Wet’suwet’en territory. His movement was limited by RCMP, his ability to capture images and report on events was restricted by police.
The Gidimt’en checkpoint is the last stop before the Unist’ot’en camp and healing centre that was founded in 2015 to reoccupy traditional Wet’suwet’en territory. RCMP is enforcing a court injunction so Coastal GasLink can build a liquid natural gas pipeline through the territory. Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs served Coastal GasLink an eviction notice in January.
The RCMP has intervened in favor of the corporation on several occasions with complete disregard to the Wet’suwet’en Nation’s sovereignty and constitutionally-protected rights, but officers in tactical gear began major raids at the camps before sunrise on Feb. 6.
Turner wasn’t the only journalist detained by the RCMP last week. A “Vice” freelance reporter and videographer were threatened and detained, put in a police car and driven more than 12 miles to a parking lot in a nearby town and released. These actions by federal Canadian police prevented thorough reporting on the raids on unceded Wet’suwet’en territory and hindered media from documenting police conduct.
NAJA stands in solidarity with Ricochet Media and supports the Canadian Association of Journalists’ calls for reporters to continue documenting RCMP infringements on media rights.