In a cellphone video filmed while driving away from the Coutts border blockade on Sunday morning, two people identifying themselves as Jerry Morin and Jaclyne Martin issued a “call to action.”
They asked viewers to join them in what Ms. Martin said was “literally a citizens’ army” blocking transport at the Canadian border, and conducting foot patrols to watch RCMP engaged in what she called illegal activity.
“There’s no excuses. This is war,” added Mr. Morin, addressing viewers of the livestream. “And if you don’t support me, I’ll never, ever support you. Ever.”
The couple are now among 13 people charged in relation to the blockade at the Coutts, Alta., border crossing. RCMP have said the group was a small faction within the larger protest, and described the members as organized, highly armed and dangerous.
Mr. Morin and three other men – Chris Carbert, Christopher Lysak and Anthony Olienick – are charged with conspiracy to murder RCMP officers, mischief over $5,000 and weapons offences, and are in custody awaiting bail hearings. Mr. Lysak faces an additional charge of uttering threats.
Ms. Martin is among nine others who are each charged with mischief and possession of weapons for a purpose dangerous to the public peace. Most of those facing the lesser charges were granted bail with conditions, including to have no contact with one another and stay away from protest sites.
The arrests were made after a raid at the property of Joanne Person in the town of Coutts overnight on Monday. A social-media account that appears to belong to Ms. Person posted to a Facebook group for the protests a description of the scene as RCMP moved in on the mobile home and two campers on the property overnight.
A defence lawyer who appeared in a Lethbridge court in relation to the charges on Tuesday did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday. Another defence lawyer, who had represented one of the accused, said on Thursday he was no longer acting as counsel. It’s not clear who now represents the 13 accused, or if they have lawyers.
The youngest of those accused is 18-year-old Janx Zaremba, the oldest are Ms. Person and Luke Berk, both 62. During proceedings on Tuesday, court heard four of those charged work at a Calgary LED lighting company. How the others know one another, and whether they were affiliated before the border blockade, is an aspect RCMP have said is under investigation.
A photo released by RCMP after the raid shows high-powered guns with scopes that were seized by police, along with handguns, ammunition, high-capacity magazines and body armour decorated with patches associated with white supremacist and other extremist movements.
In a news conference on Wednesday, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said several of the individuals at Coutts have “strong ties” to a far-right extremist group, which he said is organized, agile, knowledgeable and driven by an ideology contrary to democratic values.
He did not identify the group.
Southern Alberta RCMP Chief Superintendent Trevor Daroux has said the threat posed at Coutts was “very serious,” and that RCMP are looking at the investigation from a number of angles, which could include organized crime and terrorism laws.
Two of the patches seen in the photos released by RCMP refer to “Diagolon,” an extremist ideology that involves the creation of a new country stretching from Alaska to Florida. The movement is led by Jeremy MacKenzie, a former Canadian Forces soldier and Afghan war veteran.
Elizabeth Simons, deputy director of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, which monitors far-right groups, said Mr. MacKenzie first started talking about creating an independent state through violence as a joke, but that the idea took off and eventually became a “rallying cry.”
“MacKenzie has been talking about civil war for years now,” she said, adding that he has used “extremely violent rhetoric.”
Social-media accounts linked to at least two of the Alberta men charged with conspiracy to murder – Mr. Lysak and Mr. Carbert – have interacted with Mr. MacKenzie online or shared his posts, as has the account linked to Ms. Martin. After their arrests, Mr. MacKenzie talked about the group in Coutts in a livestream, although he denied any knowledge of an alleged conspiracy.
Mr. Lysak and Mr. MacKenzie were photographed together last year.
The others charged in relation to the Coutts blockade are Johnson Law, Evan Colenutt, Justin Martin, Eastin Stewart Oler and Ursula Allred.
Social-media posts on accounts identified as belonging to those charged show common themes, including conspiracy theories, anti-vaccine rhetoric, anti-media sentiment, and staunch opposition to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. One post from 2019 on an account identified as being that of Ms. Person says Mr. Trudeau should be hanged for treason.
An account identified as belonging to Mr. Berk contained photos at the blockade in Coutts in recent weeks. One post says: “I’m very glad to be apart of something I strongly believe in.”
A Feb. 8 post was a prayer asking for God’s assistance with an attempt at “casting out all of the demonic forces at work.
“Your people are standing firm not just against mandates, not just against tyranny, not just against the loss of liberty and freedom, but against the evil that has swept across the land,” it said.
An account identified as belonging to Mr. Carbert frequently posted on a wide variety of conspiracy theories, including that the COVID-19 vaccine is making people magnetic, and more than once expressed his willingness to die for his beliefs.
“I will die fighting for what I believe is right and I mean this,” one October post says.
The account identified as belonging to Ms. Martin also included strong anti-government sentiment. One meme, shared in September, shows a woman in camouflage and tactical gear carrying a gun, with the message “me in 2022 when all I wanted was to be left alone and to be able to keep the fruits of my labor.”
The post is addressed to “criminal politicians and their big pharma/corporate buddies.”
In the livestream on Sunday, Ms. Martin and Mr. Morin called for continued blockage of the border at Coutts, and urged others to join them.
“It’s not 100 per cent legal, we know that,” she said. “But it’s the only way for them to pay attention to us, is when we’re hitting their pocketbook.”
“Just feel in your heart that it’s the right thing to do,” Mr. Morin said. “I’m going home right now, but I know that I need to be there, to fight for my children and fight for our future.”
With a report from Colin Freeze
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