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Protesters camped outside Saskatchewan legislature taking province to court
Ryan McKenna, The Canadian Press
Published Monday, July 16, 2018 12:24PM CST
Last Updated Monday, July 16, 2018 7:01PM CST
Protesters camped outside the Saskatchewan legislature say they are taking the government to court over six arrests made last month.
The people were taken into custody June 18 when Regina police enforced an eviction order. They were never charged and lawyer Dan LeBlanc says he believes the arrests were illegal.
"What we would hope is if the courts indicate what occurred on June 18th unjustifiably interfered with these folks' right to express themselves, then the government will take that under advisement and will be hesitant to take steps to evict them again," LeBlanc said Monday.
The camp was set up in February to protest racial injustice and the disproportionate number of Indigenous children apprehended by child-welfare workers. It set up again shortly after the protesters were evicted.
LeBlanc said the protesters aren't asking for money, but want the court to rule that the arrests were illegal.
The main grounds of the court application, which is to be heard on Aug. 23, is that the protesters' rights to freedom of expression were unjustifiably infringed on and the arrests were arbitrary.
The respondents in the application are listed as the Saskatchewan government, the Provincial Capital Commission and Regina police.
The government and the commission have called for the removal of the teepees, because bylaws prohibit overnight camping and burning combustibles in the park.
Protesters and the government met July 2.
In a letter to protesters following that meeting, the government said it had already taken action on and would continue to take action on many of the group's concerns.
Protester Robyn Pitawanakwat said the government's response indicates that it is satisfied with the status quo and has no intention of making any changes.
She said the camp is growing by two to three new families every day as they seek support and reunification with their loved ones.
"Their truths are being denied," Pitawanakwat said. "The response by government indicated that they're already doing everything and they don't need to change what they're doing. The stories that are coming in here indicate the exact opposite."
Fellow protester Prescott Demas said the camp isn't going anywhere and the campers are waiting for a second meeting with the government.
Premier Scott Moe said last week that the government hadn't planned to meet with the protesters again.
Regina police Chief Evan Bray has previously said that he doesn't believe the camp poses a risk to the public.
A police spokeswoman would not comment on the protesters' application.