Drop charges against Brandi Morin – defend the free press, oppose anti-Indigenous racism!

PV staff  

Award-winning journalist Brandi Morin was arrested in Edmonton on January 10, while covering the experiences of people living in an Indigenous-led encampment there. Edmonton police were forcibly evicting the residents, and arrested Morin for not staying in a confinement zone they had set up for media. She was handcuffed and taken to a police station where she was detained for five hours before being charged with obstruction.

On March 1, Morin heads into her next court date. If convicted, she faces up to two years in jail.

Her treatment and the charges against her are an attack on the free press, and they reek of anti-Indigenous racism. The authorities should drop all charges immediately, apologize publicly to Morin and pay reparations for their treatment of her.

Fifty-eight percent of the unhoused population in Edmonton is Indigenous. Morin, who is Indigenous, has written extensively about racism, violence and colonialism toward Indigenous people, including reports on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and the impact of tar sands projects on Indigenous communities.

The arrest reflects an increasing trend of undermining press freedom in Canada, particularly against journalists covering Indigenous and land defence struggles. Women journalists in particular are targeted, with Women Press Freedom reporting that since 2019, almost 70 women journalists in Canada have faced harassment or intimidation including smear campaigns, online harassment and assaults while at work.

Many labour, media and civil rights organizations have spoken up since Morin’s arrest, calling for the charges to be dropped and denouncing the racist harassment she is now facing on social media.

Unifor, which launched its “Help is Here” campaign in response to the increasing harassment of journalists and media workers online and in-person, issued a statement on February 29 calling for journalists and media to be respected, supported and protected for doing their jobs, not obstructed.

“The union believes the treatment of Canadian journalists and media workers needs to be supported by all political leadership in this country and the government has a responsibility to ensure police comply with the laws of democracy. When reporters are unable to do their jobs, it can lead to censorship and a chill in news coverage and can result in fewer important stories published and broadcast.”

[Photo of Brandi Morin’s arrest: APTNnews.ca]

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