Winnipeg police evict encampment on north side of Manitoba legislative grounds

More than 50 police seen at the legislature, including some in tactical gear

CBC News · Posted: Oct 04, 2022

Police and conservation officers are on the legislative grounds on Tuesday to evict people who have set up permanent structures there. (Jérémie Bergeron/CBC)

Winnipeg police say they have arrested seven people involved in bolstering an encampment on the north side of the legislative grounds and are evicting people who are staying there long-term.

Police and Manitoba government officials made the decision to dismantle the camp on Tuesday as a result of escalating threats of bodily harm, the indication of weapons and aggressive behaviour by north camp occupants, police said in a news release on Tuesday.

Officers said they safely dismantled that encampment in front of the legislature, and that weapons were found.

Police wouldn’t say what kind of weapons were discovered.

Approximately 50 police officers were seen mustering on the south side of the grounds, including a handful of tactical officers holding shields and wearing helmets earlier in the day.

Police seized and cleared out material from the area after arresting people who refused to leave. (Erin Brohman/CBC)

Meanwhile, legislative staff were seen erecting chain-link fences around the grounds.

Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen says police are involved to enforce provincial legislation barring people from erecting permanent structures on the grounds.

“There’s been concerns regarding security, and escalating concerns over the last number of weeks,” he said in an interview following question period on Tuesday.

“We want this to be a place where people feel safe to visit, feel safe to come and have meetings, feel safe to work and feel safe to protest, because this is an appropriate place to protest, but there are safety concerns when people come and don’t leave and … those are demonstrated over the last number of weeks.”

Goertzen says there have been a number of arrests lately, but didn’t speak to specifics.

“There have been over the last number of weeks arrests of individuals who were trying to grow the encampment, arrests of individuals who have outstanding warrants, there were arrests of individuals who were using things that could be used as dangerous weapons,” he said.

“We’ve seen an escalation over the last few weeks.”

The camp on the north side  has been adorned with signs and flags highlighting a variety of issues, from the discovery of what are possibly unmarked graves at residential schools to COVID-19 restrictions and conflict in the Middle East.

It has been in place for a few months but was recently enlarged.

Police arrest 7 attempting to build new teepee

On Monday, protesters from the encampment on the north side had planned to build a third teepee and put out a call on social media for supporters to help them build a “law lodge.”

When they arrived at the front entrance to the legislature grounds, they were met by a line of more than two dozen officers.

Police said in the news release on Tuesday that legislative security officers and police told participants to stop bringing in the materials as it was contrary to The Legislative Security Act.

Despite verbal warnings, the group formed a long human chain, preventing officers from carrying out their duties and providing cover for the individuals bringing in materials such as long wooden poles.

Seven people between the ages of 27 and 55 were arrested and charged with obstructing peace officers and depositing items in the legislative area that support an extended stay.

This story was originally published at cbc.ca. Read it here.

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