In a dark, grainy video posted early Thursday morning on Facebook, spokesperson Molly Wickham said the Wet’suwet’en camp had been receiving phone calls about RCMP arrests and puts out a call for supporters to join the camps.
“We’re calling on all of our supporters, all of our people to get ready, get prepared and get here as soon as you can,” she said in the video posted at approximately 3:40 a.m. PT. “Anyone who can’t make it, it’s time to rise up. It’s time to stand up for all Indigenous people across Turtle Island… the RCMP can’t come in and remove us from our territories.”
APTN News has not verified that any arrests have taken place but the Mounties issued a statement saying the area has been locked down.
“The access control checkpoint, which was created on January 13, 2020 to prevent further escalation of the situation and to mitigate safety concerns over hazardous items placed on the roadway, has now been established as a full exclusion zone,” the RCMP said in a statement released Thursday morning.
“As of February 6, 2020, the RCMP will not allow access to anyone who is not part of the enforcement team, with some exceptions for Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs and Elected Council members by arrangement with the Senior Commander.”
The statement said that local residents, including the media may be “inconvenienced.”
For weeks, police helicopters have been flying circles around the area as Wet’suwet’en supporters drum and sing at one of the RCMP checkpoints on the Morice West Forest Service Road outside of Houston, B.C.
Tensions are building after Tuesday’s announcement that talks between the province of B.C. and Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs were unsuccessful.
Wickham’s partner Cody Merriman, is a member of the Haida Nation.
“Moving forward at 27 km (the marker on the Morice West Forest Service Road) people are preparing for the pending police raid.
“This will be the second police raid that is on John Horgan’s resume.”
(Police escort trucks carrying heavy machinery into the Wet’suwet’en territory Thursday morning. Photo: Lee Wilson/APTN)
Merriman posted a video Thursday morning of a convoy of police vehicles escorting trucks with heavy equipment up the road.
“Here it is, invasion of the territories,” he said on the video. “For anyone that doesn’t know, there were arrests at five this morning at kilometre 39.”
Merriman’s video shows a seemingly endless line of vehicles being waved on by the RCMP.
Merriman said on the video that he was denied entry to the territory.
This is the second incursion by the RCMP into Wet’suwet’en territory. On January 7, 2019, 14 people were arrested after paramilitary police climbed over a barricade.
Video of the raid put this pipeline conflict between Coastal Gaslink and Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs on the world stage.
Merriman said he was doubtful that a resolution could be made in the seven-day window.
“It is an expectation it was going to go this route. The RCMP and Coastal Gaslink didn’t want to offer anything on the table to have any other resolution than this. Both the company and the province desire forcible removal of Indigenous people from their lands,” said Merriman.
Coastal Gaslink said they were disappointed that talks ended without finding a resolution that would have prevented the enforcement of the injunction.
“Coastal GasLink appreciates the time, effort and energy taken by Minister Scott Fraser and his staff, the Hereditary Chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en and liaison Nathan Cullen to try and find a peaceful resolution to the issues at hand,” CGL said in their statement released on Tuesday.
Merriman said he believes RCMP and Coastal Gaslink had their mind made up.
(The camp at the 27 km marker on the Morice West Forest Service Road on Feb. 5. Photo: Lee Wilson/APTN)
This past week he witnessed police forces in the area building and preparing for what he called a “bush mission.”
“We have seen further development of two police detachments. One at the Telkwa Hall and one at the Houston Hall on the first day of the announcement of these talks.”
As the sun went down behind the camp, the tension eased for the night. Merriman shared what he would like to see happen in this conflict moving forward.
“Removal of the RCMP from the territory and the Wet’suwet’en are governing their lands. It is an industry free zone; the land and the animals be left how they are supposed to be and this place and the water is protected.”