Alberta Crown Prosecution Service spokesperson Michelle Davio said the charge was withdrawn after further assessment by lawyers

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Prosecutors have dropped charges against a journalist arrested during an Edmonton homeless encampment clearance, concluding there is no public interest in pursuing the case.

Brandi Morin announced on social media Friday that an obstruction charge stemming from a January protest at an encampment in central Edmonton has been withdrawn.

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Morin said she intended to plead not guilty and schedule trial dates when she received a text from her lawyer, Richard Mirasty.

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“I lost it when I got that text — I was wailing, I cried,” she said.

Morin, who is Indigenous, was arrested and jailed Jan. 10 while reporting on the dismantling of a long-standing homeless encampment at Rowland Road and 95 Street by police and bylaw officers.

She said she was interviewing a camp leader inside the police tape when officers ordered her to leave.

“The police said, ‘We’re taking the camp down so you need to leave, we have a warming bus, if you stay you will be forcibly removed,’ ” Morin said earlier this year.

Morin was then arrested, jailed for five hours and charged with the criminal offence of obstructing a police officer.

She defended her actions, saying she was acting as a journalist documenting state action against a vulnerable community — many of whom are Indigenous.

Edmonton homeless
Angel Rose finishes braiding her hair as she and the other residents of a homeless encampment near 95 Street and 101A Avenue, refuse to leave, in Edmonton Tuesday Jan. 9, 2024. Police and city crews had arrived to remove the camp. Photo by David Bloom /Postmedia

“That’s what they did to our people here, whose territory they’re on,” she told a Postmedia reporter in January. “They were forcibly removed to reserves, their children were removed to residential schools — they’re still removing kids from their families.”

Alberta Crown Prosecution Service spokesperson Michelle Davio said the charge was withdrawn after further assessment by lawyers.

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Prosecutors typically withdraw charges when they believe there is no longer a reasonable likelihood of conviction, or because they believe pursuing the case is no longer in the public interest.

Davio confirmed in Morin’s case, it was the latter.

“A key duty of a Crown prosecutor is to assess cases on an ongoing basis and ensure all aspects of the evidence are carefully considered at every stage of a prosecution,” she said.

“In general, Crown assessment of files continue to evolve after the initial decision is made to lay charges, and Crown prosecutors continue to evaluate the evidence in light of the prosecution standard.”

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Morin thanked those who supported her, including The Writers Union of Canada, Reporters Without Borders and other journalism groups.

“When a reporter steps out to assert their rights, they’re asserting the rights of society, of the public, of the people whose stories they’re covering, right when there are these powerful figures that are trying to obstruct them,” she said.

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The mother of four said the charges nevertheless took an emotional and psychological toll. 

“It was the idea that just in doing your job, you could be arrested — for everything that was at stake … just coming face to face with that reality of being criminalized,” she said, noting the impact a criminal record would have on her career and her ability to travel.

“I questioned the work that I do, and whether I could continue doing it. There was a lot on the line for me,” she said.

“Honestly, I feel like there’s a weight lifted. It’s just a figure speech, but I feel it.”

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