200 people riot in Pikangikum; police vehicles and headquarters damaged
PIKANGIKUM FIRST NATION, Ont. – Three police vehicles and the remote reserve’s police building were damaged during a violent protest following an officer’s altercation with a community member.
About 200 members of Pikangikum First Nation demonstrated outside the community’s police headquarters on Saturday.
OPP Sgt. Peter Leon confirmed the incident began when a Pikangikum Police officer used a stun gun on an individual who was interfering with an investigation.
“Later that day a group of community members who were upset with the actions of this officer began what was a peaceful protest out front of the Pikangikum police service building,” he said.
“That process escalated with additional people coming to that location, with upwards of 200 people did congregate and the protest became violent.”
Officers were forced to barricade themselves inside the building.
OPP officers from the Red Lake detachment were called in to provide assistance and support. Pikangikum is about 100 kilometres north of Red Lake.
Leon said additional resources were called in, though he would not provide details about which units were deployed. He described the police response as “appropriate and measured.”
“We are very fortunate and happy members of the community intervened and were able to begin the de-escalation process as police also began arriving to assist,” Leon said.
An investigation is being conducted by the OPP, though the probe is still in the early stages. Nobody has been arrested or charged.
No injuries were reported as a result of the initial incident or the subsequent protest.
Altercations with police are nothing new in Pikangikum, where the community has twice evicted the entire contingent of their OPP detachments.
‘Violent protest’ targets police in Pikangikum First Nation
OPP say protest prompted by stun gun arrest
by CBC News, June 29, 2015
The Ontario Provincial Police are investigating a protest on Saturday that destroyed three police vehicles and left officers barricaded inside their detachment in Pikangikum, a northern Ontario First Nation of roughly 2,400 people.
“What began as a peaceful protest, very quickly evolved into a violent protest against police,” Leon said, adding that numbers rose from 20 to 200 protestors before calm was restored.
Protesters threw rocks, causing “extensive damage” to the two-storey police detachment and “leaving officers in a situation where they had to take up fortification” on the second floor, Leon said.
OPP will not say how many officers were in the building while the protest was underway.
By the time back-up arrived on Saturday evening, community members were already de-escalating the situation, Leon said.
OPP are now investigating the incident as a criminal matter and working with the community leadership to maintain their positive working relationship, he said.
Pikangikum Police are local First Nation officers, working under the Aboriginal policing program, administered by the OPP. OPP officers fly into the community for short postings and stay at the police detachment, working alongside the local officers.
This isn’t the first time residents have attacked the police in Pikangikum First Nation: