Three people, including reporter, arrested as Edmonton encampment dismantled

By Jamin Mike and Bob Weber, The Canadian Press

Edmonton police arrested one man and two women Wednesday as they dismantled a homeless encampment, including a reporter who had been covering the issue. 

“One male and two female demonstrators were arrested for obstructing police during cleanup of the encampment,” police said in a release.

“Charges are pending at this time.”

Ethan Cox of Ricochet Media said the reporter, Brandi Morin, told him from police custody that she was at the encampment during the police action. Cox, who is Morin’s editor, said she was arrested after she refused to leave an exclusion zone.

“She was conducting an interview with one of the leaders when the police arrived,” Cox said Morin told her.

“(Police) put up a huge exclusion zone with police tape. Brandi was confronted by a police officer who told her she had to be outside.

“She said, ‘No, I want to be able to see what’s happening.'”

Morin was then arrested and handcuffed, Cox said. 

“We’re very concerned that the Edmonton police would arrest somebody who identified themselves as a journalist.”

Ricochet Media said later Wednesday that Morin had been released on a promise to appear in court.

The camp was the eighth and final camp deemed by the city to be “high risk” that was to be taken down.     

Chad Charland, who had been living at the camp, said residents and supporters were peacefully protesting when police made the arrests and dragged some people away from the area. He said one of the men arrested was a mentor and elder for the unhoused.

Charland said police told him he had to leave the camp. He set up his tent again in the nearby ravine.

Most of the camp, except for a teepee, had been dismantled by late afternoon.

“We tried our peaceful way, now I guess we will see what’s to come,” Charland said.

The Coalition for Justice and Human Rights has filed a lawsuit seeking a declaration from the court that the city’s encampment eviction policy breaches Charter rights. 

In the meantime, the group wants an injunction putting restrictions on the city and police response to encampments when temperatures are extreme, when there is no adequate shelter space and around giving written eviction notice to occupants.

An emergency interim injunction put in place last month that covers the eight “high risk” camps was to have expired Thursday but was extended to Tuesday. 

Police have detailed the health and safety dangers of homeless camps in Alberta’s capital. 

Edmonton police Deputy Chief Warren Driechel said Tuesday that officers had taken down 120 structures affecting at least 100 people and removed about 2,000 needles, dozens of weapons and 50,000 kilograms of waste.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 10, 2024.

Jamin Mike and Bob Weber, The Canadian Press

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