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Public meeting held for investigation into RCMP response to Rexton protests

FORD’S MILLS N.B.- New Brunswick residents are learning more about an investigation into RCMP conduct during the 2013 shale gas protests through a serious of public meetings.

The meetings are being hosted by the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP, which is heading the investigation into the federal police force.

Rosemary Morgan is an analyst with the commission and says the meetings are designed to help people understand the investigative process.

“We’re hoping we can answer questions from the public so they understand what it is we’re doing,” she said. “We are a separate entity from the RCMP and we are investigating the RCMP because there were public complaints.”

The allegations against the police include the use of aggressive force and improper arrests and detention.

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More than a dozen complaints were filed against the RCMP. In addition, a public group complaint in the form of a petition with 245 names was also filed.

The commission’s chair has since launched his own complaint to investigate all aspects of the of the RCMP response.

Pamela Ross, one of the protesters who opposed shale gas exploration in Kent County, said people need answers.

“There were just so many questions and so many bad situations and instances that really didn’t need to happen and it really damaged the relationship between the RCMP and the local communities,” she said.

Ross said people want to know why a generally peaceful protest in Rexton got violent very quickly on Oct. 17, 2013.

Protesters had been blocking shale gas exploration trucks from leaving a secure site and had been in place for weeks until police moved in on Oct. 17 to break up the blockade.

The action resulted in a riot where police cars were destroyed, weapons were seized and many people were arrested.

“We need to find out exactly what happened during the whole protest movement with the RCMP and their actions and the way things turned out in Rexton in October,” Ross said.

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Denise Melanson also attended Sunday’s public meeting. She said people need to know these complaints are taken seriously.

“I think it would be really useful for people and myself to know how seriously these kinds of complaints are taken,” she said.

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