British Columbia Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) brutally assaulted well known indigenous activist John Splitting-the Sky Hill late Wednesday evening. The police attack occurred as Mr. Hill and his cousin David Hill were returning to their home near Mission BC from Vancouver about 11:30 PM.
Police approached the vehicle on the pretext of a problem with one of the vehicle's tail lights but then sought to arrest the men, presumably after ascertaining the identity of Mr. Hill.
"I told the police that they had no jurisdiction and the next thing I knew they were beating me. One policeman pushed my face into the roadway with his boot on the back of my neck, while another one was kicking me in the ribs," said Hill, who was handcuffed at the time. The assault continued during transport to the Surrey RCMP detachment when Hill objected to the officers actions and reiterated his position that the police were without jurisdiction on "unceded Indian land." At this point an officer pepper-sprayed him "from two to three feet, my eyes were wide open. I was blinded for about 3 hours and still can't breathe properly," the activist told S.I.S.I.S.
At the Surrey detachment Hill was separated from his cousin, "So I couldn't see what they were doing to him," said Dave Hill. The two men were later released.
"There is no doubt that the attack was connected to my work as an activist and my role as national spokesperson for the Free the Wolverine Campaign," said Mr. Hill. "I'm in a pretty bad state - pretty messed up," he told S.I.S.I.S. in a short phone conversation from his home where he is recovering. Hill will be examined by doctors tomorrow to determine the full extent of his injuries.
"No charges were laid against me, absolutely none," said Splitting the Sky. "Every dog has his day and we're going to make it well worth their evening of violence."
After being examined for neck or head injuries and a possible concussion, Hill said he will determine his further response to the assault, noting that cut brake lines, the firebombing of vehicles, and police harassment have all attended participants and supporters in the Gustafsen Lake affair since the siege itself in 1995.
Kootenay elder Bill Lightbown, spokesperson for the Ts'peten Defence Committee, strongly condemned the attack and noted, "It becomes more and more obvious that the RCMP is at war with Aboriginal people."
The Free the Wolverine Campaign and the Ts'peten Defence Committee were formed in response to the massive police and army siege of indigenous traditionalists at the sacred Ts'peten (Gustafsen Lake) Sundance grounds in the summer of 1995. Both have worked tirelessly to educate the public about events of that summer, the ensuing trial, and the underlying issues of indigenous sovereignty and jurisdiction, and to secure the freedom of those imprisoned for defending that sovereignty, including James "OJ" Pitawanakwat and Shuswap elder Wolverine (Jones William Ignace).
S.I.S.I.S. condemns this latest attack upon this activist and reiterates the demand for a full and comprehensive inquiry into all aspects of the Gustafsen matter.
RCMP Public Complaints Commission:
Toll free phone: 1-800-665-6878
Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien (demand a public inquiry!)
Room 309-S Centre Block, House of Commons, Ottawa, Ont. K1A OA6 Canada
Phone: (613) 992-4211
Fax: (613) 941-6900
Faxing by email: remote-printer.Jean_Chretien@16139416900.iddd.tpc.int