Po­lice note links Moe to ef­forts to evict pro­test­ers

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As early as May of last year, Premier Scott Moe wanted the protest camp across from the Leg­isla­tive Build­ing gone — and fast.That’s what Regina Po­lice Ser­vice Insp. Cory Lind­skog seemed to be­lieve on Tues­day, May 29, as he took hand­writ­ten notes dur­ing a meet­ing with of­fi­cials from the Pro­vin­cial Cap­i­tal Com­mis­sion (PCC), the body re­spon­si­ble for Was­cana Cen­tre.For the pre­vi­ous 90 days, the Jus­tice for Our Stolen Chil­dren campers had re­fused to budge from the park’s west lawn.“Di­rec­tion from Gov’t & Premier is to have them re­moved Fri­day @ 6 a.m.”Lind­skog said his note, re­leased in re­sponse to a free­dom of in­for­ma­tion re­quest, was not meant to sug­gest that the gov­ern­ment was ex­ert­ing any pres­sure on the Regina Po­lice Ser­vice (RPS). He was sim­ply not­ing the PCC had been given di­rec­tion — ap­par­ently from the high­est lev­els of gov­ern­ment — and was look­ing for any as­sis­tance the po­lice could pro­vide.But the trove of doc­u­ments re­leased to the Leader-post points to fre­quent com­mu­ni­ca­tions be­tween po­lice and gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, and re­peated at­tempts to con­vince po­lice to move against the camp.It in­cludes three let­ters a deputy min­is­ter sent to RPS Chief Evan Bray for­mally re­quest­ing that po­lice re­move the camp, as well as a stream of text mes­sages ex­changed in the lead-up to the June ac­tions to clear it out.The records point to Bray ’s hes­i­tancy and con­tin­u­ing fear that po­lice would be caught in a “storm.”In a state­ment Thurs­day, the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment stressed that nei­ther the premier nor the gov­ern­ment ever pro­vided di­rec­tion to po­lice.“The Premier had the same po­si­tion as the rest of the gov­ern­ment — that the pro­test­ers were il­le­gally tres­pass­ing by camp­ing in the park and there­fore should be re­moved if they were un­will­ing to leave vol­un­tar­ily,” the state­ment said.“This po­si­tion was com­mu­ni­cated to the RPS, but the gov­ern­ment did not pro­vide ‘di­rec­tion’ to the RPS as gov­ern­ment never di­rects the en­force­ment ac­tions of the po­lice.”The state­ment added that all com­mu­ni­ca­tion with po­lice over the camp flowed through the min­istries of Cen­tral Ser­vices and Jus­tice, or through the PCC.Lind­skog con­firmed that he never spoke with any­one from the premier’s of­fice. He said his rec­ol­lec­tion of the May 29 con­ver­sa­tion, and whether the premier’s name was men­tioned, is “not 100 per cent.” But he said he has no rea­son to doubt he made the note.In any case, the re­moval didn’t take place that Fri­day, on June 1. Bray had long been try­ing to fa­cil­i­tate di­a­logue be­tween the gov­ern­ment and mem­bers of the camp.As pre­vi­ously re­vealed in court fil­ings, Bray sent a let­ter in April to the premier, the Speaker of the Leg­isla­tive Assem­bly and two min­is­ters, call­ing po­lice en­force­ment a “no-win sit­u­a­tion.”His own hand­writ­ten notes show that his con­cil­ia­tory ef­forts con­tin­ued in May.But re­quests from gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials con­tin­ued. Then-deputy min­is­ter of Cen­tral Ser­vices Richard Mur­ray (who died in Oc­to­ber) sent a let­ter to Bray on June 8.“I am writ­ing to for­mally re­quest that the Regina Po­lice Ser­vice re­move the en­camp­ment,” it read.The newly re­leased doc­u­ments re­veal how tense re­la­tions be­tween the campers and the PCC had be­come by early June.On June 2, the PCC posted a no­tice that the campers were vi­o­lat­ing by­laws and gave them a June 5 dead­line to va­cate.On June 4, pro­test­ers re­sponded with their own no­tice, say­ing the gov­ern­ment was in de­fault of Treaty 4. They even de­liv­ered it to PCC head of­fice.Mur­ray told Bray the visit made em­ploy­ees ner­vous.“That guy that came and posted their sign was very ag­gres­sive, staff are a lit­tle spooked,” he wrote in a text mes­sage.Mur­ray said the man seemed “ex­tremely an­gry.” He sug­gested bring­ing on pri­vate se­cu­rity for a few days, and said he’d been told that “staff would ap­pre­ci­ate that.”Bray re­sponded that the pro­test­ers had not come across as an­gry in his re­cent in­ter­ac­tions with them. He sug­gested they were “re­solved in their po­si­tion and an­gry the politi­cians wouldn’t agree to the teepee talk.”Just days later, on June 7, Mur­ray saw an op­por­tu­nity to act. At 9:31 a.m. that morn­ing, he alerted Bray that the camp’s teepee had just come down.“I can have a truck or two over there in ten min­utes given that they’ve got the tipi on the ground if you want to take ac­tion now,” he added. “Just throw­ing it out there.”But Bray learned that the pro­test­ers were merely do­ing “teepee main­te­nance.”“Stick with orig­i­nal plan as dis­cussed this morn­ing,” he told Mur­ray.Bray still wasn’t pre­pared to give up on di­a­logue. On June 12, he re­minded Mur­ray by text that the campers had made an­other of­fer to meet. They had just sent a for­mal in­vi­ta­tion to Mur­ray, as well as min­is­ters Don Mor­gan and Paul Mer­ri­man.“You are asked to RSVP to this re­quest by June 15, 2018 at 5 p.m.,” the camp’s mes­sage said.But the RSVPS didn’t come — and most of the camp would be gone by then.Bray and Mur­ray con­tin­ued to cor­re­spond over the next few days. Mur­ray said the is­sue was “a hot topic” among gov­ern­ment min­is­ters.By June 14, talk had turned to ac­tion. Their text mes­sage ex­change shifted to how many trucks and work­ers would be needed to clear away the camp.Bray said it would take more than “a cou­ple guys with trucks.”“We’ve got six peo­ple, two half tons, and a one ton ready to roll,” Mur­ray replied.On June 15, Cen­tral Ser­vices and PCC em­ploy­ees re­moved tents and bag­gage from the site as po­lice looked on. Pro­test­ers were given more time to take down the sin­gle teepee then on site.By June 17, the teepee re­mained stand­ing. Mur­ray texted that it was “no sur­prise.” Bray re­sponded that it was “very dis­ap­point­ing.”Bray agreed that it was bet­ter to deal with the mat­ter “sooner rather than later.” On June 18, PCC em­ploy­ees took down the teepee while po­lice stood by to “keep the peace,” ac­cord­ing to Bray, be­fore mov­ing in to de­tain pro­test­ers who in­ter­fered.Se­nior PCC of­fi­cials later com­mended po­lice for their as­sis­tance.“Your mem­bers were un­be­liev­able, es­pe­cially Darcy Koch and Cory Lind­skog,” PCC man­ager of events and vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ence Ryan Whip­pler wrote in a let­ter to Bray. “I can’t say enough of how im­pressed I was with the way they han­dled them­selves in a tough sit­u­a­tion.”But Bray re­it­er­ated how torn he was about hav­ing his force pulled into the dis­pute.“Our po­lice ser­vice is in the mid­dle of the storm now, as I knew we would be. My fear all along,” he replied.Po­lice would re­main caught in that storm in the weeks and months that fol­lowed. On June 21, just be­fore 8 p.m., Bray got a call from Insp. Lind­skog in­form­ing him the camp had been re-es­tab­lished.That prompted a flurry of text mes­sages and phone calls.Ac­cord­ing to his writ­ten notes, Bray texted with Mur­ray and Mayor Michael Fougere and spoke to the PCC’S then-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, Car­rie Ross. He also left a mes­sage for Jus­tice Min­is­ter Don Mor­gan.Mur­ray sent Bray a sec­ond let­ter call­ing for po­lice ac­tion the next day, fol­lowed by a third on June 26.“Emo­tions are run­ning very high on both sides of this is­sue and we re­quest the as­sis­tance of the Regina Po­lice Ser­vice in re­mov­ing the en­camp­ment,” it warned. “Due to the press­ing time­li­ness on this mat­ter I would ask that you pro­vide me with a re­sponse by 3:00 p.m. to­day”But Bray con­tin­ued to re­sist the pres­sure. On June 26, he said po­lice be­lieved that re­mov­ing the pro­test­ers and their teepees could com­pro­mise com­mu­nity safety.“This an­tic­i­pated ero­sion of com­mu­nity safety is both dur­ing and af­ter the phys­i­cal evic­tion process oc­curs,” he wrote in an email to Mur­ray.“For that rea­son, it is still the po­si­tion of the Regina Po­lice Ser­vice all ef­forts need to be made to re­solve this peace­fully.”The camp held up un­til Sept. 12, when pro­test­ers left in com­pli­ance with a court or­der.On that day, Bray ap­peared in plain clothes to thank them for en­sur­ing a peace­ful end to the dis­pute.

The province says nei­ther the premier nor the gov­ern­ment di­rected po­lice on the re­moval of Jus­tice for Our Stolen Chil­dren camp.

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