The RCMP is standing down on threats to arrest journalists who are reporting on a police raid in Wet’suwet’en territory in northwest B.C. that began in the early predawn hours on Thursday. The raid has continued into Friday afternoon as police advance down a forest road occupied by Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, Wet’suwet’en members and their supporters in opposition to the Coastal Gaslink pipeline.
Journalists reported being threatened for photographing police in tactical gear, and some were physically removed from the site. But on Thursday evening the RCMP wavered in the face of outrage to infringement on press freedom in an email to Ethan Cox, editor of Ricochet Media. Photojournalist Amber Bracken is also on scene for The Narwhal at Unist’ot’en camp where police are expected to make arrests late Friday or Saturday.
Earlier that afternoon, Cox tweeted an email he received from an RCMP spokesperson that stated Ricochet journalist Jerome Turner was “subject to all the same restrictions as anyone else within the zone,” and would have to choose to leave or “be subject to arrest.”
By Thursday evening, the same spokesperson, Chris Manseau, amended the RCMP’s position and said journalists “can rest assured that the RCMP will make every reasonable effort to allow media personnel to get as close as possible to the enforcement area, while ensuring no interference with police operations.”Decriminalizing journalism. What a novel idea.