Arrest/criminal charge

Edmonton police arrest Ricochet journalist during encampment eviction

Edmonton police officers arrested Ricochet journalist Brandi Morin while she was reporting on the forced eviction of people, many of them Indigenous, living in a homeless encampment in a vacant lot east of the city’s downtown. 

Morin was interviewing a source at the encampment when police arrived and began preparing to evict residents, reported Ricochet. Officers fenced off the encampment using police tape and then began arresting people who were still on the site. 

Morin was filming the arrests when a police officer told her she had to leave and stay outside of the police tape, Ricochet editor Ethan Cox told the Toronto Star. Morin told the officer that she was a journalist covering the event, and noted court rulings which protect the right of media workers to cover news events, reported Ricochet. 

Morin was handcuffed and told she was being arrested for obstruction. She “suffered a minor injury to her wrist” as she was being arrested, Ricochet reported. She was then taken to a police station in Edmonton, where she was initially told she could be held for as long as 72 hours. 

She was released more than five hours later and ordered to appear in court on Feb. 1, 2024 to face a criminal charge of obstructing a peace officer. She was also ordered to report to Edmonton police to be fingerprinted before her first court appearance. 

In a statement, Edmonton police spokesperson Cheryl Voordenhout said that Morin was nearby during “a physical struggle” as police arrested someone in the encampment. “She was asked repeatedly to go to the area where all other journalists were stationed for their safety. She refused to comply, and was told she would be arrested for obstruction if she didn’t remove herself from the active worksite,” Voordenhout wrote.

On March 1, 2024, prosecutors withdrew the charges against Morin, whose lawyer had been set to appear in court that day to enter a plea of not guilty and fix a date for the trial. 

Prosecutors believed that pursuing the charge was not in the public interest, Alberta Crown Prosecution Service spokesperson Michelle Davio told the Edmonton Journal

Ricochet managing editor Andrea Houston said the charge “amounts to an attempt at intimidation of the media by the Edmonton Police,” and should have been dropped much earlier, reported Ricochet. “The stress and financial costs over the past nearly two months have been significant, and we hope that no working journalist is ever put through such an ordeal again.”