On Tuesday May 18, 2010, a Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) bank branch in the Glebe neighbourhood of Ottawa was firebombed by three unknown individuals, who after videotaping the attack fled the scene. The bombing took place roughly a month before the G8/G20 Summits in Ontario,
While there was much speculation within the activist community that the bombing had been the work of government embedded, agent provocateurs, in a false-flag attempt to demonize G8/G20 activists, the police finally arrested three Ottawa area men for their involvement.
This week, a judge sentenced Roger Clement — a 58-year-old retired federal bureaucrat with a long history of activism — to three and a half years in prison for his involvement.
Claude Haridge (50) and Matthew Morgan-Brown (32) were also arrested in the case but their charges were stayed in the case.
All three were members of the anti-establishment group FFFC — Ottawa (Fighting for Freedom Coalition) which publically claimed responsibility for the early morning firebombing in Ottawa and vowed to take its protests to the upcoming G8 and G20 Summit protests. The group stated the attacks were made against corporate “Kanada” in defense of Indigenous land rights and the environment.
Referencing the recent Olympic Games in B.C., the manifesto reads, “On June 25-27 2010, the G8/G20 ‘leaders’ and bankers are meeting in Huntsville and Toronto to make decisions that will further their policies of exploitation of people and the environment and we will be there. We pass the torch to all those who would resist the trampling of native rights, of the rights of us all, and resist the ongoing destruction of our planet. We say: The Fire This Time.”
The fire caused by the explosion is estimated to have caused $300,000 with no casualties reported.
Clement was also sentenced to six months in prison for a February attack on a different RBC branch but will only serve the three-and-a-half years in prison for credit for the time already served.
First Nations and G8/G20 activists groups spoke out against the firebombing – with some First Nations group denouncing the violence and stating that such a tactic should not be seen as done in their name – though the tactic was supported in some quarters, mostly on the Internet by anonymous posters.
On May 24, 2010, when the identity of the three men and the real name of the group was still unknown, I wrote a piece for rabble.ca titled: The warrior tradition, the FFFC and the firebombing of the RBC where I stated: “I will not call the FFFC a band of brave warriors. This is not about ideology. This is about accountability. Warriors involved in resistance are the most powerful and successful when they come from, are lead by, and reflect the will of the community they claim to represent.”
In a traditional warrior society, if a warrior conceived of an action, they would first approach their Council and ask permission of the elders (or other governing body) to seek their wisdom and discuss if the proposed action could have repercussions on the women/children/community as a whole. They would then obey the wisdom received from the Council, as the Council would represent the needs of the community; not just an individual’s ego.
Until I hear otherwise, there was no consultation process. But there should have been. Let me state again, regardless of who the FFFC turns out to be, it is always the non-white, non-Western, marginalized communities that suffer most when the state acts in its inherent racism and classism against any form of resistance. Every activist should always be mindful this fact.”
An Indigenous Environmental Network’s (IEN) press release about the incident stated, “We call on all people who recognize the need to stop RBC’s dirty investments to honor the leadership of frontline Indigenous communities.” [The complete text of the press release can be found at the bottom of this article].
Readers should note that as I was one of the organizers of the G20 Indigenous Day of Action on June 24, 2010 — while I hate the tar sands and the deadly impact it has on Mother Earth -my concern was with the community of Indigenous activists who were coming together from across Turtle Island to organize against the G20 and this is reflected in my comments. For the article, I was condemned in some radical activists circles for being a “middle-class reformists”.
According to a statement released by Ottawa Movement Defense after Clement’s sentencing, it stated that it is, “outraged and saddened by the three year and six month sentence handed down to Roger Clement this morning, December 7th. Roger had previously pleaded guilty to arson in the May 18th firebombing attack on a local Royal Bank of Canada branch, as well as smashing windows and ATMs at a different branch in February.
We are dismayed that this property-related offense was judged so harshly by the court, given that both the defense and Crown attorneys acknowledged Roger took great care to eliminate any possible injury to innocent people. We are left wondering when RBC executives will be made to face equivalent jail time for their own crimes against indigenous communities and the environment.
But we are also inspired by Roger’s strength of character during a grueling court process. Even when offered the chance to apologize for his role in the firebombing, Roger refused to do so, even though his liberty was on the line. In typical Roger fashion, he chose to simply apologize for the inconvenience he had caused his friends and family, and for the fact that the money spent on incarcerating him wasn’t being spent on more useful projects.”
Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) Statement on the Royal Bank of Canada Firebombing
For Immediate Release
Wednesday May 19, 2010
Ottawa, ON, in response to the recent firebombing of the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Tar Sands Campaigner of IEN, Clayton Thomas-Muller released the following statement:
“The Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) is an Indigenous led environmental and economic justice organization that supports community led strategies that enable Indigenous Peoples to continue to maintain the sacred fires of our traditions and to protect our lands and cultures from corporate exploitation and toxic contamination.
First Nations in Canada’s tar sands have been waging an effective, transparent non-violent campaign against RBC and their dirty investments. The Indigenous Environmental Networks supports strategic non-violent direct action that is lead by impacted communities.
We call on all people who recognize the need to stop RBC’s dirty investments to honor the leadership of frontline Indigenous communities.
Tom Goldtooth Executive Director, IEN Office: 218 751 4967
Clayton Thomas-Muller Tar Sands Campaigner cell: 218 760 6632