Handprints, slogans painted on Winnipeg police HQ after group protests arrest of landfill search supporter

The entrance to the Winnipeg Police Service’s downtown headquarters was taped off Wednesday morning, with red handprints and slogans painted on its front, after a group of people protested the arrest of an Indigenous man who has been among those calling for a search at a landfill for the remains of two women.

Handprints could be seen painted on the outside of the building on Wednesday morning, along with phrases expressing anger toward police, such as “this blood is on WPS hands.”

Late Tuesday night, a group of about 30 people were gathered outside the building on Smith Street and Graham Avenue. Organizers said they were there to protest the arrest of a man who had been part of the protest at Camp Morgan, a longstanding encampment outside the Brady Road landfill in south Winnipeg.

That camp was established by people demanding a search of the Prairie Green landfill, north of Winnipeg, for the remains of Morgan Harris and Marcedes Myran, two First Nations women who police believe were killed by the same man. It’s believed their remains were taken to Prairie Green.

Phrases are painted in red on windows. One says, "Here piggy pig," while another says "This blood is on WPS hands." Red handprints are also seen on the windows.
Phrases painted in red cover the windows of the Winnipeg Police Service’s downtown headquarters. The messages call for landfills to be searched for the remains of Indigenous women, and some express anger towards the police. (Gary Solilak/CBC)

Protesters at the police headquarters Tuesday night said police had made an arrest at Camp Marcedes, a more recently established camp near the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

“We’re making sure that our warrior is safe. Winnipeg police have caused harm … to the Native community in this city,” Joseph Munro told CBC News at the police HQ protest, just before midnight on Tuesday. 

“For his safety and for the safety of all our warriors at camp, we have to stand strong and together and unified with ceremony right now, in hopes that he’ll be released.”

Cambria Harris, who was also at Tuesday night’s protest, said police arrested the man at Camp Marcedes around 5 p.m.

They didn’t say why they were arresting him and had refused to communicate with her or the man’s family, said Harris, a daughter of Morgan Harris.

A group of people, one of whom carries a red flag, are gathered outside a downtown building.
A group of protesters are seen gathered outside the downtown Winnipeg Police Headquarters Organizers late Tuesday night. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

When CBC was at the police headquarters protest around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, none of the messages were painted on the windows of the police department.

The next morning, officers could be seen examining the vandalism.

In a social media post Wednesday morning, police said some services at the downtown headquarters would be closed until noon “due to an incident that occurred yesterday evening.”

In a news release sent Wednesday evening, Winnipeg police said the man was arrested near Israel Asper Way and Provencher Boulevard in relation to two previous incidents at the Brady Road landfill. 

On April 6, police say the man confronted an on-site security guard at the landfill and “made threatening comments to cause him harm and referenced access to firearms.” The guard left the area unharmed and contacted police.

On July 23, the man allegedly confronted a different security guard at Brady Road who was in a work truck. He jumped on the hood of the vehicle, threatened to harm the guard, and refused to get off the hood, police say. Rocks were thrown at the truck, and the guard left unharmed and contacted police.

Police charged the 27-year-old man with two counts of uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm, wearing body armour without a valid permit, and mischief under $5,000.

He was released on an undertaking, police said.

The major crimes unit is investigating the incident at police headquarters. Police say the crowd dispersed after about two hours.

Police officers stand outside a building where the phrase "Here piggy pig" is painted in red paint.
The entrance to the Winnipeg Police Service’s downtown headquarters was taped off Wednesday morning. (Gary Solilak/CBC)