Protesters outside the legislature building said they had some frightening moments over the weekend after a man set up his own camp and was carrying a knife.
The Justice for our Stolen Children camp has been stationed in Wascana Park for well over 100 days.
While Regina police won’t remove that camp, protesters said officers made a visit to the camp over the weekend to speak to a man, who camp members said was brandishing a knife and trying to threaten them.
Robin Pitawanakwat speaks on behalf of the Justice for our Stolen Children Camp and responded to reports made by a caller to Gormley about a man who set up a popup tent with a “free camping” sign near their teepees.
“He was brandishing a knife. He was also doing Nazi salutes and trying to intimidate the campers,” she told a reporter with 980 CJME. “We’ve been a peaceful protest this whole time and there were children very close to him when he had his knife out.”
Pitawanakwat said there was no apparent reason for the man to be carrying a knife since all he had was an empty tent and described his actions as threatening and intimidating to campers.
While she did not personally call police, she said it may have been someone from the camp who made the call.
She noted police did appear to confiscate the knife after speaking with the man but they did not arrest or forcibly remove him from the site.
“They did not remove him, they spoke with him and then he left of his own accord,” she said, commenting that there seemed to be more of an issue with him having a dog off leash than anything else.
Pitawanakwat maintained the group welcomes people who disagree with them and would also be comfortable with other protesters making camp there.
“We have people disagree with us on a regular basis and we welcome people who have differing opinions to come down and talk to us, we’re always open for that,” she commented.
“But bringing a knife is a very different thing. That’s not trying to work things out, that’s not trying to talk things through. It’s not even disagreeing, it’s actively threatening.”
Pitawanakwat said the group still encourages people to come down and talk to them, but asks them to try to keep an open mind and to be willing to hear their reasons for camping outside the legislature for so long.
In response to those who maintain the group is still breaking a law and should be removed by police, Pitawanakwat said bylaws like the one they are breaking are a minor offence and technically other people break them all the time.
“There are a lot of laws being broken. There are treaty laws being broken as well and that’s not on our part. There are charter rights being broken if we’re removed,” she said.
While she agreed everyone is technically obligated to follow laws, she said charter rights to protest and finding justice for our stolen children are more significant than a bylaw.
Regina Police Service responded to messages left by 980 CJME in an emailed statement on Tuesday, confirming all of the details outlined in the incident which happened at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.