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Verdict and sentencing for Mi'kmaq warriors arrested in Elsipogtog raid

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Two men from the Mi'kmaq Warrior Society have been charged and found guilty after Royal Canadian Mountain Police (RCMP) raided their anti-fracking warrior camp on October 17, 2013.

The demonstrators had set up a camp and on-and-off blockades of the roads to prevent SWN Resources from using their seismic trucks to test for shale gas as a first act towards fracking the area.

The Mi'kmaq and Elsipogtog First Nations believe the land -- their traditional territory -- to be unsurrendered to the federal and provincial government and, therefore, they deserve free and informed consent regarding what happens on their territory. These rights are guaranteed in the Canada-signed UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Community discontent with SWN Resources gas exploration has been going on in the area since June of last year, when community members began to take action against the potentiality of the fracking of shale gas just outside the town of Rexton, New Brunswick. Although certain injunctions were in place at various times, they were not always followed.

On October 17, 2014, the early morning raid included hundreds of RCMP officers -- some dressed in camouflage and assuming sniper positions in the woods surrounding the protest camp -- who moved in to clear out the highway and surrounding area. During the clash, Molotov cocktails were thrown and at least four police vehicles were set on fire.

More than 40 arrests were made during that early morning raid by well-armed tactical units and ordinary RCMP officers, including the arrest of Chief Aaron Sock.

Rumours that the American Army had been sent across borders to intervene in Canadian politics and policing was unfounded -- the confusion stemming from eye witness accounts and photos of RCMP tactical officers creeping around the brush with high-powered rifles.

In the numerous videos of the mornings' raid, you can hear people drumming and singing the Mi'kmaq Honour Song.

Here are a few selecions to refresh your memory:

-- Elsipogtog: Tensions, anger, and courage 17 October

-- Elsipogtog: RCMP move in on peaceful protesters 17 October

-- Female Native hurt by abuse of the R.C.M.P.!!! She crying for help at the Anti Shale Protest

-- Elsipogtog/Rexton Raid Oct. 17

Of hearing the news of the raid that day, Rick Rogers, an Anishinaabe Ogichidaa, told me at a sweat we were at, "The Canadian nation has existed alongside different Indigenous nations, but this militant action by the RCMP is an act of war."

Both members of the Mi'kmaq warrior society, Germain "Junior" Breau and Aaron Francis had been incarcerated since that day – the longest two held without bail -- until their trial which concluded on Wednesday July 9, 2014 in the Moncton Law Courts.

Supporters gathered outside the court and drummed and sang in support of the two warriors.

The pair were found guilty of some charges and innocent of others. Both men were found guilty of weapons related charges. Sentencing is scheduled for July 25, 2014.

Breau was found guilty of possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose. And five counts of pointing a firearm. He was found not guilty of five counts of assaulting police with a firearm.

"Mr. Breau's deliberate action in holding the rifle as he did while facing the officers, even though he may not have been aiming the rifle at them, in my view, is encompassed in the definition of pointing a firearm," said Judge R. Leslie Jackson.

Francis was found guilty of possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose. He was found not guilty of throwing Molotov cocktails with the intention of doing bodily harm by causing an explosive device to explode, as well as possession of explosives while prohibited to do so, and committing an offense while having his face masked.

In this case, Judge Jackson told the court, "While I am inclined to believe that Mr. Francis may have indeed been the thrower, I cannot say that I am satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt."

Although two police officers had identified Francis as the person they saw throwing Molotov cocktails, their observation "was of relatively brief duration, in limited or low light conditions, and during a very volatile and stressful situation," said Judge Jackson.

According to a statement on the Reclaim Turtle Island site, "They are currently the only two political prisoners of war in so-called Canada. They made a stance to not only protect the indigenous women, elders and children in their inherent territories but they were also defending the sacred land and waters for all people. They made their stance for the liberation of the Mi'kmaq nation and for the liberation of all indigenous people all over the world.

To support our warriors please contact Suzanne Patles 902 217 0608 or Patty Crow 506 229 0373 or via Facebook inbox

Email transfers can be sent to healing_crow2010 [at] hotmail [dot] com." 

**

Mi'kmaq Honour Song:

"Kepmite'tmnej ta'n teli l'nuwulti'kw
Nikma'jtut mawita'nej
Kepmite'tmnej ta'n wettapeksulti'k
Nikma'jtut apoqnmatultinej
Apoqnmatultinej ta'n Kisu'lkw teli ika'luksi'kw
Wla wskitqamu eya eya
Wey u we he haiya, Weu we he haiya
Wey u we he haiya, Weu we he haiya
Wey u we he haiya,
Wey u we he haiya, Weu we he haiya
Ta Ho!"

Translation:
"Let us greatly respect our nativeness
My people let us gather
Let us greatly respect our aboriginal roots
My people let us help one and other
Let us help one and other according to the Creator's
intention for putting us on this planet." 

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