Arrested Coutts protesters say they were provoked by the RCMP

The RCMP described the threat against its officers as ‘real and organized’

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One of the Coutts border blockade protesters charged with a weapons offense told his supporters that the RCMP were pushing them into a violent confrontation that protesters rejected.

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In a video posted to Facebook on Sunday, just hours before her arrest for mischief and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, Jaclyne Martin noted that the RCMP had disabled protesters’ heavy equipment so that he could not be drove on Highway 4 to block the border post.

“The RCMP admitted to this vandalism,” said Martin, 39, while calling for more support for the blockade that was lifted two days later after more than two weeks of protests.

“They’re willing to do things that you and me and everyone knows is meant to piss us off. . . it’s supposed to create conflict that they’re looking for so they can use force and that’s what we’re trying to avoid.

Martin said the situation facing the protest against COVID-19 restrictions was “no longer a keyboard war. . . it is an army of citizens. . . we are not asking you to storm the beaches of Normandy, we are asking you to hold on.

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Sitting next to her in a vehicle was Jerry Morin of Olds, who was charged with conspiracy to commit murder, mischief over $5,000 and possession of a weapon.

He said they were returning home after spending time at the blockade and reiterated Martin’s call for more support for the protesters.

“There are no excuses – this is a war and if you don’t support me, I will never support you,” said Morin, 40.

“I have to be there to fight for my children, to fight for our future.”

  1. The roadblock on Highway 4 out of Milk River towards the Coutts border crossing on Tuesday, February 8, 2022.

    Calgary restaurateurs face supply chain issues and product stuck in convoy

  2. Protesters leave in a convoy after ending their blockade in Coutts on Tuesday.

    Sounding their horns, protesters march out of Coutts after an 18-day blockade

An RCMP spokesperson said last weekend that three excavators had been disabled to prevent them from being used to reinforce barricades for protesters.

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“This (damage) is fixable, to be very clear,” said Fraser Logan, who dismissed the idea that the action was meant to be a provocation.

“We had to be sure that these vehicles could not come to reinforce the fortifications.”

On Monday, the RCMP also charged Chris Carbert, 44, and Christopher Lysak, 48, both of Lethbridge, and Anthony Olienick, 39, of Claresholm with conspiracy to commit murder, mischief over 5,000 $ and possession of a firearm for a dangerous purpose.

Lysak is also accused of uttering threats.

Police seized a cache of long guns, handguns, oversized magazines, a machete and body armor, and said the suspects intended to kill RCMP if they tried to break the blockade.

The RCMP described the threat against its officers as “real and organized”.

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Just before the arrests, constables say two vehicles tried to ram one of their vehicles, but the officer managed to avoid a collision.

The roadblock on Highway 4 out of Milk River towards the Coutts border crossing on Tuesday, February 8, 2022.
The roadblock on Highway 4 out of Milk River towards the Coutts border crossing on Tuesday, February 8, 2022. Photo by Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia

Ursula Allred, 22, of Magrath, residents of Raymond, Justin Martin, 22, is also charged with possession of firearms and mischief. Eastin Oler, 22, Evan Colenutt, 23, and Janx Zaremba, 18, as well as Calgarian Johnson Chichow Law, 39, Luke Berk, 62, of Red Deer and Joanne Person, 62, of Coutts.

Allred, Oler, Zaremba and Martin worked in Calgary.

Patches designating the extremist anti-government group Diagolon were seen on a set of body armor confiscated by the RCMP, while a patch bearing the word “infidels” was attached to another.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims said the latter patch is worn by Islamophobic white supremacists.

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The Canadian Anti-Hate Network claims that Lysak has ties to Jeremy MacKenzie, who they claim is a de facto leader of Diagolon who also oversees the so-called Plaid Army.

In videos posted Sunday night and Tuesday, MacKenzie offered words of support to suspects he suggests he knows.

“I know they’re not bad guys, I know they’re not bad people,” said MacKenzie, who was in Ottawa supporting the Freedom Convoy.

“We’ll keep an eye on that and hope these guys are okay.”

The Canadian military veteran also said he was ready to die while serving in Afghanistan for a cause he did not embrace.

“I care about this one (the Freedom Convoy) a lot,” he said.

On January 26, Nova Scotia constables raided MacKenzie’s home and seized restricted firearms, prohibited magazines and body armor after video emerged showing he pointed a gun at a man’s head.

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Groups like Diagolon were inspired by right-wing extremists whom US officials see as the biggest threat to US homeland security, said Dr. David Hofmann, a sociologist and terrorism expert at the University of New York. Braunschweig.

“They are an accelerationist group and their ideology is the violent establishment of a white nationalist state from Alaska to Florida,” he said.

And he added that groups that had failed to organize in Canada until 2016 saw initiatives such as the Freedom Convoy as natural opportunities.

“It’s actually a common tactic used by the far right – we saw it during the Yellow Vest movement a few years ago,” Hofmann said.

“They take advantage of the movements. . . they agree on common starting points, then slowly come into play and co-opt the movement, which inexorably sullies it.

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Photo provided by RCMP on Monday, Feb. 14, 2022 shows a large assortment of weapons and ammunition seized near Coutts during a crackdown near the Canada-US border.
Photo provided by RCMP on Monday, Feb. 14, 2022 shows a large assortment of weapons and ammunition seized near Coutts during a crackdown near the Canada-US border. Photo provided by the RCMP

Other arrested protesters took on a different tone, some religious.

In a prayer posted to Facebook Feb. 8, Berk, a Red Deer resident, pleads for divine intercession to help end the “tyranny” of vaccination mandates.

“Your people are crying out Your name asking for strength and solidarity to stand firm against this evil…we march around the walls of Jericho across the world, uniting as one,” he wrote.

“You will receive praise and glory for the victory.”

RCMP raided Joanne Person’s property in Coutts to seize the cache of weapons and ammunition which led to the arrests.

Some townspeople said they didn’t think she knew what was stored in the trailers.

“She didn’t know anything,” said a neighbor, who declined to be named.

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Although many posts on Person’s Facebook page were recently deleted, the site contains a number of strongly critical memes of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that are common on social media.

Organizers of the Coutts protest say those charged were foreigners, but a large Canadian flag hoisted inside a Coutts saloon and posted on Facebook by Carbert bears the names of several of the suspects from early February.

“We must remember that this is not just for Canada and our families, but for the whole world. I don’t know about you but I’ve never been so proud to be Canadian, let’s never give up and be an example to the world,” Carbert wrote on his Facebook page.

On his Facebook page, Berk posted numerous photos and a video of the Coutts blockade from late January.

The RCMP says their investigation is continuing with the possibility of further charges being laid.

Eight of the protesters have been released on bail, while Carbert, Lysak, Olienick and Colenutt are due back in court on Friday.

[email protected]

Twitter: @BillKaufmannjrn

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