Over a year has passed since the initial wave of #ShutDownCanada actions. This wave included protests, blockades, occupations, and disruptions held in support of Wet’suwet’en land defenders, actions which garnered a broad amount of coverage and public support.
We the undersigned were amongst the dozen or so arrested on February 26, 2020, at a #ShutDownCanada blockade staged in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en and the arrestees at the Tyendinaga Mohawk territory. Months later, our charges were withdrawn without us having to offer any concessions to the state, which we believe is a tacit acknowledgement that those charges were groundless to begin with. We were amongst 150 others arrested at different actions during this period.
There remains over 60 land defenders and supporters across several provinces facing criminal charges for their participation in the 2020 blockades. Historically, criminal charges have always been doled out more punitively against Indigenous defendants by the racist, settler-colonial state. This includes twenty-eight defendants from Tyendinaga being charged after they faced a violent raid from the OPP. This also includes six defendants from Hamilton being charged for their participation at a rail blockade very similar to the one we were arrested at. That their court cases are ongoing and ours are resolved only speaks to how arbitrary and punitive this legal system is. It is a system designed to criminalize and suppress any form of opposition towards its regime of colonialism and extractive capital.
In the time since winter 2020 and now, media and public attention has understandably drifted away from these events and their participants, but violence, harassment, displacement, surveillance and suppression continue to be carried out by the Ontario Provisional Police, the RCMP and the legal system. It is imperative that we not look away. We urge supporters to offer solidarity and material support to those defending themselves in court cases against this oppressive legal system, and all those fighting the colonial state.
A dozen former blockade defendants