[Updated] Enbridge Pipeline Occupier Native Headdress Theatre (Or: #SwampLine9 protesters gone wild!)

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Click to enlarge…

Update: If you check out this video from the CBC you’ll see that the native protester is a young man and that the police treated him exceedingly politely.


The Line 9 pipeline pumping station hijacking is now officially over- the police came in this morning, 20 protesters were arrested and it’s been reported they’ve all now been released. Some of the leaders of the hijacking have a raw hatred for the police, so it’s inevitable they’ll throw in some anti-cop theatre. This protest’s grand finale comes in the form of a native man’s headdress and ‘regalia’.

Though it’s unknown if the man was wearing his headdress throughout the occupation, but he was wearing it at the time of his arrest. A headdress doesn’t fit very well into a police van, and it’s standard procedure to take away satchels and other decorative items when someone is arrested. The cops did their job by the book- which is exactly what the protesters had hoped for and knew was coming.

There’s been a lot of debate over recent years about cultural sensitivity and the misuse of headdresses. A well known example is when Victoria’s Secret got into trouble last November for placing a native headdress on one of their models. The protesters flipped things around a bit for this protest, complaining that the police took his headdress and other gear when the native protester got arrested.

The sense of over-dramatized awe people supporting the protesters complaints went to all new heights for this protest. Here’s an example of one of their comments:

“Words cannot describe the feeling of how the symbolism in the photo of the white man in the police uniform ripping the traditional headdress from the indigenous fellow is resonating with me. Can we say colonisation. Can we feel the presence of Christopher Columbus?”

Can we say overdramatization? It’s all part of a standard pattern that’s been used by the organizers and percolated down to those below. When you go to more advanced training with organizations like the Ruckus Society (as some if the people involved with the occupation have) they teach you how to create artificial flash points to add more bang to your protest. This is the moment that gets rabid cop haters like Alex Hundert most excited- time to stick it to the cops.

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So here the person responsible for the Swamp Line 9 Facebook page states “Police were asked to show some respect, they didn’t”. The implication here is that it was a disrespectful act to take off the man’s headdress. But, equally, everyone knew the headgear would be taken off. And, when someone is getting arrested, the police don’t need to ask permission. And, as you can see from the top screenshot, the man was leaning over when they took away his headdress- he was aware it was going to happen, and there was no use of physical force.

The comment about comparing taking off the headdress to taking off a turban sounds good on the surface but it’s not apples-to-apples. Sikhs only take off their turbans in the most intimate of circumstances- taking one off would be similar to taking off a woman’s hijab. We can be pretty confident this man doesn’t wear his headdress 24/7.

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Now the Line 9 protester claims the police are pulling off his regalia “without explaining why”. One of their supporters chimed-in saying “how racist”. Luckily a reasonable person chimed-in asking a very logical question- why is this about the police?

Indeed- why is this all about the police?

The organizers behind this protest are cop-hating political extremists who get a kick out of battling with them. One of their leaders (Alex Hundert) was sentenced to 13 months in prison for organizing the violence at the G20 and teaching people how to ‘de-arrest’ protesters from the police. Another leader, Sakura Saunders, think’s it’s unfair to convict people who intentionally participate in riots.

Okay- what’s their ultimate goal?

They’re revolutionaries- many (if not al) of the organizers believe that change can only come by overthrowing the government. There’s no room for negotiation, they intend to ‘take it to the streets’. Any plan for uprising and revolution ultimately involves clashing with the police- anything they can do to weaken the police will help advance the revolution.

These people are dangerous- both to society and to the causes they latch onto. Their end-goal isn’t to stop the building of a pipeline, it’s to spur a (violent) revolution- a non-consensual act that the (vast) majority of people in this country disagree with. And, by mixing their hate for the police with the pipeline protest they’re weakening the cause while helping to justify building a police state.

And, that sucks…

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