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Dear Mitchell,

We come to you with a special, urgent message today.

On Friday afternoon, award-winning photojournalist Amber Bracken was arrested by the RCMP while on assignment for The Narwhal on Wet’suwet’en territory in northwest B.C.

As of Sunday morning, Amber is being held in a jail cell in Prince George and we still haven’t been able to access the crucial photos she was taking for us that day.

Journalism is not a crime.

Amber’s arrest — along with the arrest of freelance filmmaker Michael Toledano — marks just the latest in a long string of illegal RCMP actions against journalists. Let’s be clear: journalists play an essential role in bearing witness in a democracy and have a charter right to report from within injunction zones. Amber was there to act as eyes for the rest of us, as the conflict on Wet’suwet’en territory has raised crucial questions of justice and Indigenous rights that have reverberated across Canada.

We are focused on doing absolutely everything we can to get Amber released as soon as possible, but we also want to make sure this never happens again.

Please join us and other media organizations in calling on Minister of Public Safety Marco Mendicino to protect press freedom.

The RCMP have repeatedly acted well beyond the law when dealing with journalists, in defiance of court rulings. Just a few months ago we took the RCMP to court, along with a coalition of other media, over their conduct at Fairy Creek.

In two scathing written rulings, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Douglas Thompson determined the vast exclusion zones and media restrictions set up by RCMP officers were unlawful and “seriously and substantially” impacted important press liberties. Justice Thompson ultimately refused to extend the injunction at Fairy Creek, stating the way the RCMP continued to violate charter rights when enforcing the injunction was causing a “depreciation” of the court’s reputation.

The RCMP needs to be held accountable for their repeated violations of the rights of Canadian journalists.

Today we’re asking you to join us in calling on federal Minister of Public Safety Marco Mendicino to exercise his oversight responsibility of the RCMP to correct these serious violations of press freedoms.

Thanks for all you do,

Emma Gilchrist
Editor-in-Chief
The Narwhal

P.S. Last year, Amber’s work for The Narwhal on the ongoing conflict on Wet’suwet’en territory won the Charles Bury award from the Canadian Association of Journalists for her “moral courage” in defending the public’s right to know. At this very moment RCMP actions are impeding the public’s right to know. Please take a minute right now to call on Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino to immediately investigate these illegal arrests of journalists and make sure they never happen again.
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