Free photojournalist after ‘mass arrest’ in B.C. Mounties

Video shows one dead young woman and protest leader Amiri Barooak in custody

A photojournalist and filmmaker has been released after a reporter and photographer were arrested and severely beaten during what appears to be the RCMP response to Indigenous protest in British Columbia’s Wet’suwet’en territory.

Canada arrests indigenous reporter and photographer in B.C. – live updates Read more

Unofficial local and outside videos, which can be seen here, showed one dead young woman identified as Jessica Perham, as well as protest leader Amiri Barooak in custody. The footage showed the women in police custody surrounded by taser-wielding officers.

Colleagues at the Indigenous Post, the first online publication to cover indigenous issues in Canada, say Barooak was a member of the media in B.C. for 16 years, and was a leader in Neechidatchigiganguiia, the Wet’suwet’en gathering way of life.

A female photographer and a male photojournalist were also arrested while covering an indigenous protest against the installation of a gas pipeline that would bisect the Wet’suwet’en territory. Both were released in no charges on Saturday night.

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This is the second time in a week that the RCMP have drawn attention to indigenous issues with an apparent heavy-handed reaction. Last Sunday, a car carrying indigenous people and clergy struck RCMP officers on a highway in the central British Columbia region. Seven indigenous people were arrested for alleged driving offences, and police seized from the car a satellite phone and a handgun.

Monday’s latest arrest came as the regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations called on the government to denounce the “mass arrest and beating” of indigenous reporters. Shawn Atleo, who is interim chief of the chief’s assembly, issued a statement noting many women have been directly affected by job losses during the economic downturn.

“I ask that this rhetoric be stopped and that an immediate apology be issued,” he said.

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