Five more people have been arrested after security officers evicted a protest camp on Manitoba Legislative Building grounds, Winnipeg police announced Wednesday.
The arrests are in addition to the seven people that were charged Tuesday for failing to leave the north encampment.
The decision to dismantle the encampment was made after escalating threats of bodily harm, the indication of weapons and aggressive behaviour by people at the camp, according to Winnipeg police and the province.
Several items were seized from the camp including axes, a hatchet, a spear, a machete and body armor, police said.
Officers were on site Monday after occupants brought in 30-foot wooden poles to build a tipi on the grounds.
They informed the group their actions violated The Legislative Security Act and asked them to stop, according to security and police.
In response, the group formed a long human chain, to make way for materials.
Police said they didn’t want to arrest the protesters on the National Day of Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls – but the escalating threat left no choice.
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The force has “no problem” with the protest at the Legislature but said the province has introduced a law prohibiting new structures from being built, which demonstrators had ignored, Superintendent of Uniform Operations Dave Dalal said Wednesday.
Peaceful, lawful and safe demonstration continues to be supported but if safety is compromised, police are obligated to respond.
“We do not want to use force on citizens, we must look at alternatives before we engage in that,” said Superintendent of Community Engagement Bonnie Emerson.
The individuals arrested were intent on building more and more structures.
Police said they are only aware of the twelve suspects at this time and that people still at the encampment site were not involved in any of the actions.
“Several members were spoken to throughout the last few days and did leave and were not charged,” said Emerson.
Police continue to speak with protesters at the east side of the Legislature daily… “the leadership is vastly different between the two camps,” said Emerson.
The east side camp of the building still stands; police said their tone is much calmer than those who were on the north side.
“For the north camp, I can share that the evolution and the expressed interest changed quite a bit,” she said.
Police would not go into detail as to what the previous request was or what it changed to.
All twelve suspects have been released from custody and have been charged with obstructing a peace officer and occupying a tent or portable structure in legislative precinct.