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Beyond Contempt: Injunctions, Land Defense, and the Criminalization of Indigenous Resistance

Beyond Contempt: Injunctions, Land Defense, and the Criminalization of Indigenous Resistance Claiming that the criminal justice system fails to effectively prohibit protest and civil disobedience, corporate lawyers embrace the pervasive use of injunctions and contempt of court charges in struggles over resource extraction in British Columbia, dubbing this approach the “new normal.” Yet even a cursory review of protest policing in Canada reveals that state intervention in resistance movements is alive and well and that Indigenous peoples and allied social movements are made subject to repression, surveillance, and criminalization through the mechanism of injunctions and contempt, among other legal tools. Based on my direct experience with injunctions and contempt in BC as an activist legal support organizer and a settler ally, this article argues that the reliance on injunctions by extractive industries embroils the courts and police in struggles over public and/or collectively held lands and resources that are nonetheless constructed by the law as private disputes, largely insulated from the reach of constitutionally-derived Aboriginal rights. After tracing the long history of BC’s “injunction habit,” I examine the judicial and policy practices that make the “new normal” claim possible—and show how it is ultimately not accurate. As crucial tools in the legal arsenal of settler-colonial states, injunctions and the subsequent use of contempt charges carve out a distinctly colonial space within Canadian law for the criminalization of Indigenous resistance, facilitating access to resources and lands and easing the operation of extractive capitalism. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png South Atlantic Quarterly Duke University Press

Beyond Contempt: Injunctions, Land Defense, and the Criminalization of Indigenous Resistance

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Copyright
© 2020 Duke University Press
ISSN
0038-2876
eISSN
1527-8026
DOI
10.1215/00382876-8177795
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Claiming that the criminal justice system fails to effectively prohibit protest and civil disobedience, corporate lawyers embrace the pervasive use of injunctions and contempt of court charges in struggles over resource extraction in British Columbia, dubbing this approach the “new normal.” Yet even a cursory review of protest policing in Canada reveals that state intervention in resistance movements is alive and well and that Indigenous peoples and allied social movements are made subject to repression, surveillance, and criminalization through the mechanism of injunctions and contempt, among other legal tools. Based on my direct experience with injunctions and contempt in BC as an activist legal support organizer and a settler ally, this article argues that the reliance on injunctions by extractive industries embroils the courts and police in struggles over public and/or collectively held lands and resources that are nonetheless constructed by the law as private disputes, largely insulated from the reach of constitutionally-derived Aboriginal rights. After tracing the long history of BC’s “injunction habit,” I examine the judicial and policy practices that make the “new normal” claim possible—and show how it is ultimately not accurate. As crucial tools in the legal arsenal of settler-colonial states, injunctions and the subsequent use of contempt charges carve out a distinctly colonial space within Canadian law for the criminalization of Indigenous resistance, facilitating access to resources and lands and easing the operation of extractive capitalism.

Journal

South Atlantic QuarterlyDuke University Press

Published: Apr 1, 2020

References