Charges dropped against Indigenous journalist in Edmonton

"High risk" encampments were dismantled in Edmonton in early 2024 leading to the arrest of journalist Brandi Morin who was reporting on the impacts of the teardown. Photo by Brandi Morin.

By Jeremy Appel, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

(ANNews) – A criminal charge faced by Indigenous journalist Brandi Morin for reporting on Edmonton police’s teardown of an inner city homeless encampment has been dropped by the Crown. 

On March 1, criminal defence lawyer Richard Moristry was set to enter a not guilty plea on Morin’s behalf and schedule a trial date, but was informed the Crown decided to drop the charge of obstructing a peace officer.

“I’m just so relieved. So thankful for everyone who stood by me,” said Morin. “I was present to report, and I did nothing more or less than my job. It’s gratifying to see the Crown finally acknowledge that I did nothing wrong.” 

Morin, a former Alberta Native News contributor, was arrested on Jan. 10 after she was told to leave a tent encampment at 95 Street and Rowland Road, where she was interviewing residents who were in the process of being displaced on assignment for the online news outlet Ricochet

“The Crown had no reasonable prospect of conviction on the evidence, so it’s no surprise they withdrew the charge,” said Ricochet managing editor Andrea Houston. 

But Houston questioned why it took as long as it did “to drop a charge that amounts to an attempt at intimidation of the media by the Edmonton Police.” 

“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,” she added.

A spokesperson for the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service, told the Edmonton Journal that the charge was dropped because pursuing it wasn’t deemed by prosecutors to be in the public interest.

On Jan. 29, a coalition of eight national and international press freedom groups, including the Canadian Association of Journalists, Journalists for Human Rights, Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders, called for the charge to be dropped.

Morin’s case mirrors that of fellow Edmonton-based freelance journalist Amber Bracken, who is suing the RCMP for arresting and detaining her for four days in November 2021, when she covered Wet’suwet’en land defenders’ efforts to prevent the completion of the Coastal GasLink pipeline on their unceded territory. 

Morin, however, said she has “zero interest” in pursuing legal action against Edmonton police. 

“I’m over it and ready to get back to work on the ground. I’ve wasted enough of my time and tears during this criminalization experience,” she said. “Exceedingly happy the charge is dropped. Now, I press on.” 


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