Anonymous No More: The RCMP Killing of Anonymous Activist James McIntyre (Activists Killed by Cops Series)

The first decades of the twenty-first century have seen new strategies and tactics of social resistance and activism. Among these have been the largely online actions of groupings like Anonymous, a decentered manifestation of people using online strategies and tactics to confront real world injustices. A global phenomenon Anonymous has inspired and involved activists in the Canadian context as well. While Anonymous is viewed as an online grouping its members live and organize in specific locales where they are active in their communities working on issues of social and environmental justice. And it is in such locales that some have been killed by police and security forces. Such was the case of James McIntyre, a 48 year-old man shot and killed by RCMP, an Anonymous activist who was protesting a destructive BC Hydro megaproject, the Site C Dam. Wearing a Guy Fawkes mask, a popular mask worn during protests, McIntyre, who worked as a dishwasher at a local restaurant in Dawson Creek, was claimed by Anonymous as a comrade. In response to McIntyre’s killing the online activists promised actions against the RCMP and the agency’s national website went down on Sunday, July 19.

McIntyre, a Métis man, who expressed concern for the land and opposition to destructive development projects was described by his cousin Keith LaRiviere as sharing a deep concern for “the soil and our ancestral values” (Trumpener 2016a). McIntyre was opposed to the Site C dam project which is understood by Indigenous communities to be an assault on the land as well as a destroyer of culture and a threat to communities. For McIntyre, as for many activists, the project is simply another example of state and business acting in pursuit of shared interests in profit against the health and wellbeing of nature and Indigenous communities. According to LaRiviere, McIntyre was worried impact of the Site C dam on local Indigenous communities and landowners (Trumpener 2016a).

This killing by RCMP occurred in a twenty-first century context in which much concern has been raised about police violence and repression against protesters, particularly those who oppose environmentally harmful projects. Earlier in 2015 the Canadian government passed new legislation giving police institutions increased powers under a rubric of “anti-terrorism.” This is also a context of growing mobilization, organizing, and activism against ongoing colonialism and for Indigenous sovereignty and against ecological crisis and climate change.

 

The Killing of James McIntyre

On Thursday, July 15, 2015 RCMP officers in Dawson Creek, B.C. shot and killed a man, later identified as James Daniel McIntyre. McIntyre was killed while standing outside of a local restaurant, the Fixx Urban Grill, where a BC Hydro open house on the contentious Site C dam project was being held. Police were responding to calls about disruptive behavior involving another man but encountered McIntyre instead, shooting him after minimal engagement. The incident was at least partly recorded by a witness, Mike Irmen.

Initial reports suggested James McIntyre was wearing a Guy Fawkes mask at the time he was shot. The Guy Fawkes mask (representing the English rebel involved in a plot to blow up parliament) has become a popular and recognizable symbol of protest, particularly as the public symbol of hacktivist grouping Anonymous. The mask has been adopted by activists since its appearance in the popular film V for Vendetta a futuristic, dystopian movie about anti-corporate activism based on the graphic novel of the same title penned by the anarchist Allan Moore. Curiously, McIntyre’s sister, Wanda McIntyre suggested afterward that her brother disliked wearing masks. In her recollection: “He didn’t really like masks. Maybe that’s one of the reasons he didn’t pursue his welding (career), just that claustrophobia of having something on your face. I know that he had a mask that I ordered for him [a Phantom of the Opera Halloween costume]. That’s the only mask I knew he had” (quoted in Wakefield 2016). While there has been no formal confirmation, witness accounts suggested the mask was a Guy Fawkes mask and this would fit with McIntyre’s identification with Anonymous.

Before the protest James McIntyre tweeted from his twitter account @jaymack9:

“Ready 4 our little showdown? Our people r going 2 b in place at that meeting in Dawson Creek(BC Hydro).”

— jay mack (@jaymack9) July 16, 2015

As in other cases, police first gave priority to restraining McIntyre in handcuffs, as he lay dying, rather than offer any medical assistance.

The Independent Investigations Office initially reported, apparently following police, that the man who caused the disturbance at the Site C dam event was McIntyre. Yet it was afterward revealed that McIntyre was not the man who caused the disturbance that apparently led to police being called in the first place. It appears too that police had a mistaken assumption about McIntyre when they encountered him, believing him to be the person who had acted out during the event in the restaurant. This sort of misidentification is a common occurrence in many cases of police causing harm to civilians leading officers to believe someone poses a threat they do not pose and reacting with higher levels of aggression or violence. There is an assumption in such cases that force must be deployed immediately and police act in a prejudicial way in confronting a non-threatening victim.

No further details have been given or clarification offered regarding what threat, if any McIntyre might have posed. For example, it is not clear why, if he posed a threat, no one viewed it as serious enough to point out beforehand or to contact police, while police were contacted simply for someone being loud and apparently wrecking some displays at the meeting. No details have been provided publicly even to clarify how police came to target McIntyre or what led matters to move quickly to a killing by police.

Police claim they took appropriate steps to de-escalate the encounter. Yet witnesses reported hearing only screaming by police and suggested the encounter was fairly brief before police shot the victim.

There has been no independent confirmation that McIntyre carried or displayed an actual knife at the time police encountered him. The IIO did conclude that a knife was at the scene but did not confirm its connection to James McIntyre. Nor has there been any information provided publicly by police or witnesses to suggest that if McIntyre had a knife he used it in a threatening manner toward police or moved in a threatening way toward the officers.

The man who actually disrupted the Site C event later came forward as Terry Hadland, a Peace Valley wheat farmer who has opposed Site C for decades. He reported that he did not know McIntyre and had not even met the young man prior to the event at Fixx Urban Grill. Yet he now feels a debt to the young man killed in a police intervention meant for him. According to Hadland: “(McIntyre) created a diversion so I could get away. He stepped up and took that shot for me, that’s for sure” (quoted in Wakefield 2016). A terrible and stark realization. And why should anyone be executed by police simply for protesting environmental harm and destruction and in defense of land and communities?

A year after the RCMP killing of James McIntyre and the initiation of the IIO investigation, Terry Hadland says he has never been interviewed by investigators from any service. With disbelief he says: “They have never gotten ahold of me. No, never” (quoted in Trumpener 2016b). Hadland finds this particularly strange given that his actions in tearing up maps and tipping tables triggered the call to RCMP that would result in McIntyre’s killing. In Hadland’s account: “I triggered the whole darn thing because I didn’t want Hydro to get away with smooching up to the public” (quoted in Trumpener 2016b).

After being escorted from the meeting Hadland reported getting in his care and driving directly home. He only heard about the killing the following day. The news hit him hard. In his recollection: “Oh, I was devastated. I felt awfully guilty. I could hardly believe that … it was surreal, especially as I began to realize it was me they were out for” (quoted in Trumpener 2016b).

The lack of any interview with Hadland was not for his lack of trying to provide one. Upon hearing of the killing of McIntyre Hadland says he immediately rushed over to the Dawson Creek RCMP Detachment and spoke with an officer for around 20 minutes (Trumpener 2016b). In his telling: “I said, ‘look it, you guys have been duped, because I didn’t do anything down there for you to go down there and shoot somebody” (quoted in Trumpener 2016b).

Incredibly the police wanted to hear none of what he had to say. He remembers vividly that the police “patted me on the back and sent me home” (quoted in Trumpener 2016b). Police tried to present McIntyre, who had given some cover to Hadland as a threat to him. In classic fear panic language RCMP claimed: “It’s a good thing you were there because maybe this guy was really dangerous. And if you hadn’t been there, and a 911 call made, maybe something else would have happened” (quoted in Trumpener 2016b). This is a revealing commentary and it shows the “us versus them” view of the world in which everyone is a dangerous threat or a victim that so strictly frames police perspectives and impels their often lethal actions.

Terry Hadland still has no idea why he has been neither charged for his actions that evening nor interviewed despite his efforts to have his account heard. He says: “I haven’t heard a word. The investigation, I don’t think it can be thorough until they have spoken to me, and they haven’t” (quoted in Trumpener 2016b).

The long-time Site C opponent, who describes himself as a technically challenged old farmer says he has had no association with Anonymous and did not know McIntyre. Sadly, he acknowledges: “But we are now linked forever, he and I” (quoted in Trumpener 2016).

While still under investigation by the IIO for killing McIntyre, the RCMP undertook a separate investigation of McIntyre. They searched his apartment and seized a variety of personal items. For some reason these included model trains according to Veronica McIntyre. The RCMP E Division did not provide any comment on the status of that investigation in response to inquiries from journalists.

Another Anonymous tweet, from Anarcho Anon, on the Saturday following McIntyre’s killing reported that the apartment at which his family lived was raided by police following the shooting. Police claimed that that raid was unrelated. They offered no explanation about why the raid was carried out so close in time to the killing of James McIntyre or what it involved.

The IIO has refused to identify the officers involved in the shooting. Unlike cases of police killings of civilians in the United States, in the Canadian state context police officers who kill are rarely, if ever, identified publicly. Only in cases in which charges are formally brought by the Crown, which are also extremely rare, will officers be named. This is an issue that critics of police brutality and advocates for greater accountability have long raised.

IIO spokesperson Kellie Kilpatrick has stated that the IIO has not dealt with a case with “as many moving parts and changing landscapes as this one” (quoted in Bein 2015). Kilpatrick suggests that the shooting of James McIntyre is one of the most difficult cases the IIO has ever examined. In her words: “This is the first time that we’ve had such a significant change in the information we’re reporting” (quoted in Baluja 2015). Yet apart from the facts of misinformation from police about McIntyre’s conduct at the event and the misidentification of another person who was the actual reason police were called to the scene, Kilpatrick has not said why the case is so difficult.

The officer who shot McIntyre was reportedly assigned to administrative duties, returning to active duty after a period of six months. An April 7 letter from the Ministry of Public Safety that appeared in a Dawson Creek city council agenda noted that three officers took off-duty sick leave after the shooting Wakefield 2015). The Dawson City RCMP has a total of 25 members.

 

A Climate Change Disaster and Threat to Indigenous Communities: Site C

The Site C dam project is a BC Hydro megaproject planned for development in the Peace River Valley in northeastern British Columbia. The proposed 60 meter high mega dam at Site C would flood more than 100 km of the river valley. In addition to the obvious immediate impacts of flooding critics point to the risks of landslides as banks of the reservoir erode with the passage of time. The Site C dam would be the third dam in the valley, added to two existing dams on the Peace River. A major investment for industrial capital the Site C dam project is valued at $8.8 billion.

The Peace River Valley is the home of Treaty 8 First Nations, their hunting, fishing, and trapping grounds. The area is one of the most significant wildlife corridors in the migration corridor from Yellowstone to Yukon (Wilderness Committee n.d.). It is also the site of important old growth boreal forests. The development of the Site C project represents a direct threat, an assault really, on Indigenous communities, cultures, lives, and survival.

The land under threat of flooding is also among the most important agricultural land in northern British Columbia. It is noted for having the only class one soil north of Quesnel (Wilderness Committee n.d.). Many farms will be destroyed if the project goes through. The destruction of such significant agricultural land has raised serious concerns in a period of growing encroachment on agricultural lands. This concern is added to broader concerns about food security particularly for Indigenous communities, and given the destruction of wildlife habitat and food sources on which Indigenous people rely. The project will also submerge valuable carbon sinks (Wilderness Committee n.d.). Mainstream environmentalist David Suzuki has identified the Site C project as a climate change disaster (quoted in Prystupo 2016).

The British Columbia Liberal government claims that it needs the energy provided by Site C to meet provincial needs. Yet this is a political claim. The needs being met are not those of local or provincial residents (regular individual civilians) but rather the desires of multinational capital in the province. In particular the project is about meeting the energy demands of extractives industries, the oil, gas, and mining companies. BC Hydro reports conclude that current demands can be met through energy conservation. Attention can also be given to alternative energy forms. Site C is a public subsidy to the extractives companies. As the Wilderness Committee puts it: “It’s an $8 billion taxpayer subsidy to a dirty fossil fuel industry that needs cheap energy to expand” (n.d.). Incredibly, the federal/provincial Joint Review Panel found that not only was the need for the electricity to be generated by the project not clearly demonstrated but the alternatives to the project had not been assessed. Critics suggest that they were not even considered because the interest is not in meeting residential demands but rather is solely concerned with industrial demands of corporations.

Site C was granted environmental assessment approval by the governments of British Columbia and Canada on October 14, 2014. This despite the fact that the Joint Review Panel concluded that Site C would cause irreparable damage to local First Nations communities and fish and wildlife populations (Wilderness Committee n.d.). The BC Liberal government approved construction of the dam on December 16, 2014.

As the prospects of legal challenges from multiple constituencies arose the Premier of British Columbia Christy Clark stated, in anti-democratic fashion, her intention to get construction on the dam “to the point of no return” before a political election in May 2017 could lead to a change in government and possible repeal of the project. BC Hydro has estimated that by the time of the election around $4 billion of construction contracts will be locked in place (Hunter 2016). As of September 2016, construction has moved well along despite opposition.

Scholars and scientists have also raised grave concerns about the Site C project, in terms of environmental impacts and in terms of government obligations to seek and achieve informed consent from Indigenous communities prior to any possible development and to meet Treaty obligations more broadly. In May of 2016 more than 200 high profile Canadian scholars signed a letter expressing their deep concerns about the Site C approval process. The elite Royal Society of Canada wrote a separate letter directly to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calling on the federal government to halt construction on the project. The letter from “Concerned Scientists” outlined their intersecting concerns in the following language: “Our assessment is that this process did not accord with the commitments of both the provincial and federal governments to reconciliation with and legal obligations to First Nations, protection of the environment, and evidence-based decision-making with scientific integrity” (quoted in Cheadle 2016). The federal government rejected the appeal and the Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna announced that the government had “no intention to revisit the Site C environmental assessment” (quoted in McCarthy 2016).

The Treaty 8 First Nations from the Peace River Region are actively and courageously opposing the Site C project. They are defending their communities, cultures, land, and Treaty rights against interests of major multinational capital, local corporations, and provincial and federal governments in Canada. In April of 2016 BC Treaty 8 First Nations filed a legal challenge to the project with the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Both the BC Treaty 8 First Nations and the Peace Valley Landowners’ Association have undertaken legal challenges to the project in the federal court of Canada. BC Hydro attempted to have these cases expedited to allow them to continue on their 2016 construction schedule. The court dismissed their request. Court challenges are also being brought by Alberta Treaty 8 First Nations. The Blueberry River First Nation has brought forward a “sweeping challenge” which gets to the heart of Canadian state and Indigenous relations in Canada. Their case cites “a century of broken treaty promises to be able to continue practicing their traditions on the land” (quoted in Gillis 2015).

These are some of the stakes in this important twenty-first century struggle. The battles over Site C raise current issues of colonialism and decolonization, land claims, Indigenous sovereignty, ecological integrity and climate change, and social justice. These are the issues that motivated James McIntyre to oppose the Site C project and to take an active stand in doing so. Inevitably these are the struggles that he put his life on the line for. In the support of government and corporate interests and against Indigenous, social, and ecological justice the RCMP were willing to kill. And did kill.

Keith LaRiviere has continued to act and speak out against the Site C dam since his cousin’s killing. LaRiviere has participated in protest events such as the Paddle for Peace, a canoe demonstration against Site C in 2016. And this matters to him, not only for James but for the land and community. In his view: “It’s not just a family issue, this is an environmental issue” (quoted in Trumpener 2016a). And it is an issue that has galvanized broad support in defense of the land and communities and against Site C. Against the community opposition the supporters of Site C are largely the state and capital.

This is a message that James McIntyre was working to get out. The RCMP silenced that particular voice but the message continues as has community organizing against Site C. As LaRiviere suggests: “He was worried about the Peace country being destroyed by another dirty project. If that’s Jim’s message, don’t stifle his voice” (quoted in Trumpener 2016a).

In response to the killing of McIntyre, BC Hydro postponed several scheduled job fairs for Site C that were to have been held in northern British Columbia that month. The postponed job fairs were scheduled for the communities of Chetwynd, Fort St. John, and Tumbler Ridge. They also said they would review their policies and procedures around public meetings. In public statement BC Hydro announced: “BC Hydro is currently evaluating its policies and procedures for public meetings. The postponement of the job fairs will give us time to complete this task…Our intent is to ensure the safety of our staff and members of the public” (quoted in CBC News 2015b). This move was viewed by many commentators and opponents of Site C alike really as a measure to keep opponents out and critical voices from being heard.

A moderate environmental group, the Wilderness Committee, also decided to cancel a protest planned for the week McIntyre was killed outside of BC Hydro’s Vancouver offices. This was a strange choice given that McIntyre was killed opposing a project the Wilderness Committee also opposes. A better option might have been to protest at an RCMP detachment in the Metro Vancouver area. That would have honored McIntyre’s commitment and sacrifice.

 

On Anonymity

Anonymity has become a marker of modern life in industrial capitalist society and the mass politics of liberal democracy. Anonymity is built right into the key structures and institutions of everyday life in modern capitalism. In work, people are anonymous producers playing a part that is often indistinct, general, replaceable, lacking the uniqueness of skilled, artisanal work. This is an aspect of the alienation from labor that Marx so famously addresses.

In politics, mass democracy renders political action, by definition, an anonymous, nameless, unidentifiable, indistinct activity behind a screen at a ballot box every four or five years. The political actor, rendered as a voter, is further made anonymous between elections in the mass regurgitation of incessant, nameless poll results.

In the urbanity of capitalist life, which has now, for the first time in human history, compelled most people on the planet to live in cities, residents live in close proximity to people they do not know, who do not know them, and experience literally thousands of anonymous interactions with people every year, from buying a newspaper, to getting on the bus, to attending a concert, to simply passing in the street.

Anonymity finds perhaps its most idiomatic or iconic moment in time spent online in which people can post intense, intimate feelings or thoughts in forms, such as online comments, twitter, or websites and blogs, which are strictly anonymous.

It is perhaps characteristic of the age and social structure of contemporary capitalism then that activism has taken the form of anonymity and the anonymous. Indeed, perhaps the most striking political formation or manifestation online is quite literally known as Anonymous. This makes sense both because the internet allows for anonymity but is also representative of the surveillance powers of the capitalist state and corporations that seek to destroy anonymity and name and identify anyone who goes against the state capitalist consensus of accumulation, exploitation, and compliance. Anonymity offers the activist the mask of secrecy and privacy that the state is so determined to deny.

Anonymous is the name of a decentered, loose affinity group of online activists and hackers. Their decentered nature means they are largely formless and structureless. As communications scholar and McGill University Professor Gabriella Coleman suggests: “Anonymous is a little bit hard to define, because it’s a collective name that anyone around the world can take” (quoted in Early Edition 2015).  They share mostly an action orientation and an identity, important narrative practices, and symbolism. It is a banner that can be adopted by diverse users as needs and circumstances arise (Shantz and Tomblin 2014).

By their nature in being an anonymous grouping that seeks privacy and avoidance of security their members are largely unknown, nameless, unidentifiable. Gabriella Coleman suggests that what is known of the demographics of the grouping places most of its members as youth between the ages of 15 and 35. Much of the demographic information known about Anonymous comes from those members who have been arrested. Thus, that information might say more about the people who are caught than about the broader participant group.

Anonymous provided James McIntyre an ideal expression for political action. It reflected his introverted nature and love of privacy. It reflected his preference of being alone, unidentified, rather than being a public figure or socially recognized. Keith LaRiviere identified his cousin’s major characteristics as “isolation and [a] huge brain” (quoted in Trumpener 2016a). This, it would seem are major characteristics of many who find affinity with, and/or act on behalf of, Anonymous. For LaRiviere: “Making a statement with that mask makes all the sense in the world to me for Jim, because he was alone in his life,” (quoted in Trumpener 2016a).

Anonymous activists approach activism through a mix of new and old tactics from denial of service attacks and hacks to whistleblowing or public shaming.  Coleman notes that Anonymous was initially known primarily as a prankster grouping gaining notoriety for internet pranks. Since 2008 they have turned to direct action and political campaigns, projects, and interventions. Among the issues they have become known for taking involve state or corporate intrusion on privacy, issues of censorship, opposition to surveillance, and matters of free speech.

With the emergence of Black Lives Matter and movements against police brutality since the police killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, the group has actively supported civilians opposing police violence. Operation Ferguson provided support for protesters speaking out and mobilizing against the racist policing practices of the Ferguson force that killed Michael Brown. They have worked to see the names of officers involved in the killing of civilians released publicly. They have also brought attention on disruptive and interfering police officials and police association representatives who have operated to shield police who kill civilians or who eek to blame the victims. Since Ferguson this work has continued in cases involving police harm to civilians in the United States and Canada.

In terms of activism Anonymous has been most well-known for DDOS, or distributed denial of service, attacks in which overwhelming traffic is directed to a target website causing the server to shut down. The site becomes inaccessible. This is a way to shut down an offending institution’s online venues and potentially cost money, supporters, and/or sponsors. Anonymous has also publicized confidential documents and publicized information in a form of whistleblowing to the public (Shantz and Tomblin 2014).

More recently the group has turned to doxing. This practice has been used to “out” offending individuals by releasing their names and private information such as phone numbers or home addresses. This particular tactic has been used in cases of police violence to name relevant officers involved. Anonymous usually follows through on its threats in cases like the policing killing of James McIntyre. Although it might be noted that the impact is usually one of publicity or shaming more than severe consequences for government or corporations. As Coleman suggests: “They don’t usually make a call and then do nothing. Many times they will exaggerate what they will do” (quoted in Early Edition 2015). In Coleman’s assessment, in a case like this the most credible and impactful threat would likely be doxing.

In one particularly significant action against Canadian government and security forces Anonymous took responsibility for shutting down the websites of the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS), the Canadian government’s spy agency, in an appeal for Canadians to oppose Bill C-51 in 2015. C-51 is a repressive piece of legislation that became law as the Anti-Terror Act of 2015. It contains provisions that give CSIS investigative powers, allow for the criminalization of so-called bad thoughts only (rather than terrorist actions), and allows for the criminalization of economic activity such as strikes, boycotts, or blockades. It also extends possibilities for criminalization of protests, particularly those against energy projects. The law also gives police additional powers to arrest people pre-emptively.

While primarily viewed as an online phenomenon, every once in a while we are reminded that any activism also occurs in the real, material world where all activists must live, work, love, and play. This fact is violently reinforced when, as in James McIntyre’s case, an Anonymous member is killed by a security force. After the RCMP killing of James McIntyre, Anonymous claimed that McIntyre was the fourth of its members to be killed by security forces around the world in four years.

 

An Anonymous Life

McIntyre’s friends and family described him as a gentle, quiet man who did not interact much with people directly. He was said to be quite intelligent and thoughtful. McIntyre was said to be very close with his family regularly attending family gatherings. He had only moved out and into his own apartment a few years before police killed him. Even then, a devoted son and family member, McIntyre rented his apartment a floor above his mother’s apartment. McIntyre’s mom, Veronica, said he often talked about the Site C project which greatly troubled him.

James McIntyre was raised along with four siblings by Veronica, a single mother. He spent his early years in the Dawson Creek area attending elementary school in Pouce Coupe and Central Middle School in Dawson Creek. The family moved to Grande Prairie, Alberta where McIntyre graduated from St. Joseph Catholic High. Following high school James joined his brothers in the trades, working several years as a welder primarily at mills in northern British Columbia and Alberta. (Wakefield 2016). McIntyre returned to Dawson Creek in 2008. He worked at Chances Casino and Le’s Family Restaurant.

An afficionado of model trains from an early age, McIntyre used the internet to connect with model train enthusiasts from all over. In the words of his sister Wanda McIntyre: “He was train crazy. His apartment was kind of small so he couldn’t have a big layout. He got a computer I think probably for the train aspect” (quoted in Wakefield 2016). His interest in model trains and use of online media to discuss them may have opened new venues for his broader interests in environment and land.

Unassuming and a dedicated worker, McIntyre had received notice in the local newspapers only once, for winning an employee award for his work as a dishwasher, before his sensational killing by police garnered international media attention. McIntyre worked as a dishwasher at a local restaurant and casino and apparently loved the job as it afforded him time to himself away from the attentions of others.

Family described McIntyre as “straight edge,” eschewing smokes, drugs, and alcohol. According to his cousin Keith LaRiviere: “He didn’t go out and play. He didn’t join the baseball team with us. He didn’t drink. He didn’t have a girlfriend. He didn’t drive a car. He wouldn’t cross the road except at a crosswalk. He was soft” (quoted in Trumpener 2016a). McIntyre was a hard worker who saved his money largely to attend model train conventions, attending events in Prince George, Berkeley, California, and Reno, Nevada (Wakefield 2016). The owner of Le’s Family Restaurant, Le Nguyen described McIntyre as a “normal guy” (quoted in Wakefield 2016).

Committed to environmental care, McIntyre developed his own recycling program to sort bottles and cans at work in the absence of an employer developed program. McIntyre recycled the materials at Chances Casino taking them to bins outside a Walmart near the casino. According to his sister Wanda McIntyre: “He was very much an environmentalist, he was always trying to recycle and do stuff like that, but he wasn’t an extremist. I don’t know how he even found out about it, whether he knew someone who was into it and brought him into the fold, I had no idea. He never talked about it to me” (quoted in Wakefield 2016). His mother shared this perspective. She knew her son was concerned about the environment but did not speak with him about how and why he came to be actively concerned about the Site C project specifically. In her recollection: “I don’t know why he got involved with that Site C dam. He was concerned about that. I guess it was just the environment, and he felt for the people there. (That’s) why he voiced his opinion” (quoted in Wakefield 2016).

 

Anonymous Responds

Anonymous identified McIntyre as a “fallen comrade.” The response by Anonymous to the police killing of James McIntyre was named “Operation Anon Down” and was designed to achieve “justice (and vengeance if necessary) for our fallen comrade in Dawson Creek” (Early Edition 2015). They released statements calling for accountability for the officers involved. They tweeted messages directly to the RCMP.

“Ohai @rcmpgrcpolice we would like to report a murder of one of our comrades by some of your officers. Shall we expect justice or cover up?

7:45 PM – 17 Jul 2015”

The Anonymous statement after the killing of James McIntyre went further:

“In their statement, Anonymous also said that “an RCMP officer mercilessly shot and killed a masked anon without provocation or cause,” and “if Canadian police were as brave as Canadian nurses they could deal with people with knives without hiding behind bullets.”

“We will most certainly avenge our own,” the group said, adding that they will also fundraise to cover the costs of the burial of their fallen comrade.

“If we do not receive justice, rest assured there will be revenge,” they said. “Behind this mask is an idea, and ideas are bullet-proof.” (Bein 2015)

 

In response to the RCMP killing of James McIntyre, Anonymous called on people to protest at RCMP headquarters in every province. The day after Anonymous released a statement on McIntyre’s killing, the RCMP’s national website was shut down for several hours. RCMP sites in British Columbia and Dawson Creek also crashed on the Sunday following McIntyre’s killing (CBC 2015a).

Then Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said the threats were taken seriously but offered little insight into the government response. In a public statement he offered this platitude on passive democracy: “There are many ways this country enjoys freedom to express our democratic views. I invite those who want to express their views to use democratic ways. Those who don’t expose themselves to face the full force of the law” (quoted in Kane 2015). The government said it would leave matters of investigation to the Independent Investigations Office, a strange response since that agency only looks into harms caused to civilians by police. It has no mandate to investigate perceived threats to government websites.

Indeed, the RCMP did carry out some investigation into social media activities of Anonymous following their threats on the RCMP website. Minister Blaney did note that the government viewed security issues as a priority and dedicated funding to work with capital (private businesses) to target electronic threats. This made clear the role of government in acting as a security service for capital (at working class taxpayer expense). For the government, according to Blaney: “We are constantly monitoring cyber security and cyberattacks” (quoted in Kane 2015).

 

Conclusion: The Death of Truth

According to Keith LaRiviere: “Jim didn’t deserve to die in a brutal manner. The man lying on the ground was not a criminal. He was a victim of police violence” (quoted in Trumpener 2016a). Wanda McIntrye cannot say what the family would hope to get from any investigation into her brother’s killing. Regardless of the investigation’s outcome, her brother will still be as dead. In her words: “We’re still in shock. I guess the outcome is what the outcome is, whatever we say or do. It’s not going to change the fact” (quoted in Wakefield 2016).

Dawson Creek Mayor Dale Bumstead appears to share the perspective that this killing did not need to happen. In his words” Somebody lost their life yesterday, senselessly in my view, and I just hate the fact that it happened in my community” (quoted in Baluja 2015). People in British Columbia have long raised questions about the disproportionate use of lethal force by police, RCMP in particular, in small towns and especially small northern towns.

The details of his killing by police, as is typically the case with regard to police killings of civilians in Canada, will likely not come out publicly. As James McIntyre’s cousin Keith LaRiviere is left to conclude: “The truth is with Jim. The truth is with a dead man” (quoted in Trumpener 2016a). Wanda McIntyre is left with a similar feeling. In her view: “There’s no answers, and the only person with the answers is gone” (quoted in Wakefield 2016).

While appreciating the sentiment involved, that is not entirely true. RCMP officers involved in the shooting, and certainly those who killed James McIntyre, surely have some answers as to what happened that night in Dawson Creek. But, as is typical in the Canadian context when police kill civilians, the police are not required to provide those answers and there are virtually no mechanisms for a thorough, truthful reporting of events anyway.

 

Further Reading

Baluja, Tamara. 2015. “Dawson Creek Police Shoot Man Who Refused to Throw Away Weapon, Witness Claims.” CBC News. July 17. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/dawson-creek-police-shoot-man-who-refused-to-throw-away-weapon-witness-claims-1.3158360

Bein, Sierra. 2015. “Everything We Know about the Death of an Anonymous ‘Comrade’ in RCMP Shooting.” Vice News. July 20. http://www.vice.com/en_ca/read/everything-we-know-about-the-death-of-an-anonymous-comrade-in-rcmp-shooting

CBC News. 2015a. “Activist Group Anonymous Vows to Avenge Dawson Creek Shooting.” CBC News. July 18. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/activist-group-anonymous-vows-to-avenge-dawson-creek-shooting-1.3159093

CBC News. 2015b. “Site C Job Fairs Postponed after Man Shot Outside Dawson Creek Meeting.” CBC News. July 22. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/site-c-job-fairs-postponed-after-man-shot-outside-dawson-creek-meeting-1.3162600

Cheadle, Bruce. 2016. “Royal Society of Canada, Academics Call Site C Dam a Test for Trudeau Liberals.” The Canadian Press. May 24. http://www.ctvnews.ca/business/royal-society-of-canada-academics-call-site-c-dam-a-test-for-trudeau-liberals-1.2914588

Early Edition. 2015. “Anonymous: What Is It and How Serious Are Its Threats?” CBC News. July 21. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/anonymous-what-is-it-and-how-serious-are-its-threats-1.3160906

Gillis, Damien. 2015. “Landowners Launch Site C Dam Court Challenge, First Nations Next.” Common Sense Canadian. http://commonsensecanadian.ca/VIDEO-detail/landowners-launch-site-c-dam-court-challenge-first-nations-next/

Hunter, Justine. 2016. “Site C Not the Best Choice for B.C.’s Energy Needs, Report Author Says.” Globe and Mail. March 4. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/site-c-not-the-best-choice-for-bcs-energy-needs-report-author-says/article29024804/

Kane, Laura. 2015. “Safety Minister Says Anonymous Threats against RCMP Taken Seriously.” Canadian Press. July 21. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/safety-minister-says-anonymous-threats-against-rcmp-taken-seriously-1.3162661

McCarthy, Shawn. 2016. “Ottawa Pushes Ahead with Site C Dam amid Opposition among Academics.” Globe and Mail. May 24. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/royal-society-of-canada-academics-call-on-ottawa-to-halt-site-c-project/article30127279/

Prystupa, Mychaylo. 2016. “Site C is a Climate-Change Disaster, Says Suzuki.” The Tyee. February 23. http://thetyee.ca/News/2016/02/23/Site-C-Climate-Disaster/

Shantz, Jeff and Jordon Tomblin. 2014. Cyber-Disobedience. Re://Presenting Online Anarchy. London: Zero Books

Trumpener, Betsy. 2016a. “Unmasked: The Face of Anonymous Activist Shot Dead by RCMP.” CBC News. July 14. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/anonymous-activist-was-gentle-innocent-metis-man-says-cousin-1.3677750

Trumpener, Betsy. 2016b. “Retired Farmer Whose Site C Protest Triggered RCMP Shooting Never Interviewed by Investigators.” CBC News. July 18. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/retired-farmer-linked-to-r-c-m-p-shooting-of-anonymous-james-mcintyre-never-interviewed-by-iio-1.3684141

Wakefield, Jonny. 2016. “’I Will Never Know What Got Into Him’: One Year Later, Family Members Masked Man Shot by RCMP.” Dawson Creek Mirror. July 14. http://www.dawsoncreekmirror.ca/dawson-creek/i-will-never-know-what-got-into-him-one-year-later-family-remembers-masked-man-shot-by-rcmp-1.2297766

Wilderness Committee. n.d. “Stop the Site C Dam.” https://www.wildernesscommittee.org/sitec

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