COINTELPRO-style disruption tactics used by Tyendinaga Police against Real People’s Media and Wet’suwet’en solidarity movement
In recent days, Real People’s Media has become the target of a COINTELPRO-style smear campaign.
While we do not normally publicly comment on attacks from trolls and social media haters, the situation has now escalated to one in which threats of vigilante violence have been made against RPM members and the participants at the Wyman Rd. camp. These threats have been made online and in person. The fingerprints of police involvement in “bad-jacketing” RPM members for violence are all over recent events.
RPM has uncovered multiple instances of the Tyendinaga Police Service (affiliated with the Ontario Provincial Police) working to undermine and infiltrate the movement in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. This has included covert efforts by Tyendinaga Police Chief Jason Brant to remove the camp by issuing a fake press release that was sent to OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique in the early hours of February 13th, 2020. The press release claimed that the Mohawks were standing down and leaving the Wyman Rd. location before the arrival of Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller, and was timed to coincide with an aborted 8am SWAT Team raid to arrest the ‘hard line’ elements who wouldn’t clear the site.
The issuing of the secret police press release was arranged with self-proclaimed “Mohawk Warrior” Shawn Brant. Brant has been notably absent from involvement in the Wet’suwet’en solidarity movement in Tyendinaga except where he has appeared to actively undermine it.
Brant was present along with CN Rail police and Tyendinaga Police Chief Jason Brant to observe the gathering on Wyman shortly after it began, but he was not present at the camp except on the evening of February 12th. That night, Shawn Brant made every effort to convince the people to leave the front lines – a request that was unsuccessful. When Tyendinaga Police Chief Jason Brant arrived on the morning of February 13th to carry out his and Shawn’s plans, he was promptly escorted out by Mohawk warriors.
On February 25th, the Tyendinaga Police continued to interfere in the movement to support the Wet’suwet’en. Real People’s Media has obtained an audio recording of TPS Officer Marcel Maracle working to sow fear and division amongst the people, all while trying to influence political events by encouraging a contact to “put together a committee” made up of a “Bear, Wolf and Turtle” to make the decision “on behalf” of the people to shut down the camps and leave.
Officer Maracle is also overheard on the tape claiming that [Mohawk Clan Mother] “Carol Anne has pulled out the women and children, because I called her…. I told her ‘your daughter is in there, things are occurring, and people are going to get hurt.’” He also stated that the OPP was not going to charge anybody right now (Feb 25) “not because they’re giving immunity, but because they can’t identify anybody.” This statement has been proven to be untrue by APTN’s reporting that the OPP police liaisons “gave intelligence, identities of Tyendinaga Mohawks to CN Rail without legal challenge.”
The question of what involvement the Tyendinaga Police Service has played in providing the OPP with the identities of the 24 Mohawk men who have been charged or issued summons to appear in court for supporting the Wet’suwet’en remains unclear.
The Tyendinaga Police Service continued to play politics most recently on March 5th, when a vehicle belonging to Real People’s Media co-founder Tom Keefer was pulled over on reserve by Officer Marcel Maracle. Keefer was not in the vehicle, but its driver, a videographer for Real People’s Media, was stopped. No charges or tickets were given by the officer. Instead, Officer Maracle simply reported over the radio that the driver was a Registered Sex Offender and that he was driving Keefer’s vehicle.
The following evening, a meeting was convened by a group led by Officer Marcel Maracle’s brother Terry Maracle. This ad-hoc group called itself the “Tyendinaga Mohawk Nation Men’s Council” and was organized to discuss the information reported by Officer Maracle on the police scanner.
According to a first-hand report, this group met while drinking alcohol, and without any investigation of the matter, issued a statement published on the Facebook account of Terry Maracle that “ordered” the removal of RPM co-founder Tom Keefer from the territory, and the dispersal of what it called “the transients” from “the Keefer Camp” [the Wyman Rd. encampment] with the use of “all necessary and appropriate force.”
After the meeting, two of the men who had been drinking at the meeting drove through the community drunk, and arrived at the home of RPM co-founder Kanenhariyo Seth Lefort with the intention of doing violence to him in the middle of the night. Fortunately, the men were talked down and left without further incident. One of the men returned to apologize for his actions the following day.
Neither Real People’s Media nor its co-founders Kanenhariyo Seth Lefort or Tom Keefer had any knowledge that the RPM volunteer driving Keefer’s car had a criminal record or had been charged with a domestic sexual assault in 2008. Once informed, RPM immediately addressed the issue. The driver agreed to leave the territory and not return, and he is no longer involved with Real People’s Media. The individual in question has written a statement on the matter which is published below to provide further context for our readers.
The so called “Men’s Council” has continued to promote violence and threats against the camp. On the evening of Saturday March 8th, a group of about two dozen affiliated with Maracle showed up at the site, threatening to take it down and do violence to the men there. The Tyendinaga Police Services were on hand to block the road leading into the camp so that no supporters of the camp could enter. Only those opposed to the camp and affiliated with Terry Maracle and Shawn Brant’s “Men Council” were allowed through, creating the conditions for a violent confrontation within the community.
After a 45 minute discussion at the main entrance of the camp, it was decided the people would meet again at 3pm on Sunday, March 8 to discuss the concerns of the people in Tyendinaga about the camp.
The Wet’suwet’en resistance to the CGL pipeline and the RCMP invasion has kickstarted a historic movement across Turtle Island of Indigenous people standing up through their Clans and Hereditary systems to reclaim their lands and to control their territory.
This movement has shaken the Canadian colonial system and its national security apparatus. Those benefiting from Canada’s Indian Act system and the delivery of its programs and services on reserve are similarly shook. The Indian Act is coming to an end, and the grassroots people are rising up to re-establish their traditional systems on their own lands.
Real People’s Media has been committed to elevating and telling the stories of the people’s movement in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en and the revival and strengthening of Onkwehon:we Clan-based systems over the past five years. Real People’s Media is owned and operated under the guidance of the Bear Clan in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. We remain fully committed to the struggle in support of the Wet’suwet’en people, and are undeterred by the actions of police, infiltrators and agents against ourselves or the movement.
Having said that, the situation in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory is dire. The actions of the Tyendinaga Police Services are threatening the peace, and encouraging vigilante violence.
We call upon our viewers, listeners and readers to remember the lessons learned in the murderous disruption of the American Indian Movement and the Black Panther Party by COINTELPRO, and we urge everyone to thoroughly investigate matters before leaping to conclusions or taking action.
We encourage those people belonging to Clans to meet within them to discuss these matters and to consider an appropriate response to police and outsider interference in Onkwehon:we affairs. We call for non-Indigenous people and Indigenous people without Clans to listen to and amplify the voices of those people meeting in their Clans – rather than to speak for or interfere in Onkwehon:we affairs.
The camp at Wyman Rd. remains up and active, and the Mohawks continue to stand on guard for the Wet’suwet’en people as they discuss and decide upon a proposed agreement to resolve the issue of unrecognized title to their ancestral lands and the invasion of CGL and the RCMP invasion on their lands.
We also call for our readers and supporters to provide us with any further information that they may have regarding the sabotage and disruption of the Wet’suwet’en solidarity movement and police infiltration in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory.
Real People’s Media remains committed to expressing and amplifying the voices of the Onkwehon:we people, and we are in for what we know will be a long and ongoing struggle.
STATEMENT FROM RPM VOLUNTEER – MARCH 6 2020.