Officers took Regina residents Colin D. Rich, 32, and Gianina Susan Burnard, 27, into custody following the incident, according to an RPS press release. The former was charged with two counts of assault and one each of assaulting a peace officer and obstructing a peace officer; the latter, who is accused of biting one of the guards on the forearms, was charged with one count of assault causing bodily harm against a peace officer.
Rich, Burnard and an unidentified third person had been approaching legislature security daily for several days, behaving suspiciously and asking to use the washrooms, according to Patrick Shaw, the legislature’s Sergeant-at-Arms.
“A man and woman had been coming to the building since Sunday,” said Shaw, “wanting to gain entry to the building, and wouldn’t provide any type of identification or a name. So again, they were refused entry, and the guy just walked around my security guy and was going to come in anyway.”
When the guard asked Rich to leave the building, both Rich and Burnard attacked him physically, added Shaw. “One of my staff was bitten on both forearms by the woman, and so they were subdued, held until the police came and arrested them.”
At about 1:10 p.m., the police received a call about a fight with Peace Officers at the legislature, said Elizabeth Popowich, the RPS’ manager of public information. “There were, by then, a few other employees of the building who were trying to assist in detaining the two suspects,” she said.
Popowich explained that the obstruction charge against Rich was connected to his refusal to provide a name, as he “would not respond to any requests from any person in authority.” She elaborated that mandatory identification was a recent development that had resulted from the shooting of sentry Cpl. Nathan Cirillo at Parliament Hill in Ottawa last October. “It’s a new requirement,” she said, “and it just simply is in keeping with — I guess I would say security needs in a changing environment.”
Shaw said that this kind of violence against the legislature’s security occurred “extremely rarely” in his experience. “We may have somebody that’s not happy about it,” he said, referring to refusal of entry into the building, “but then, that’s infrequent as well. It doesn’t usually break into a fight.”
He added that the suspects had identified themselves as members of “Freemen-on-the-land”, a group of people who believe that statute law applies to them only if they consent to it. “So they don’t need driver’s licences, or they don’t have to obey the law in any way, shape or form. Don’t have to pay income tax, and so on and so forth.”
“They essentially declared that the rules didn’t apply to them,” said Popowich. “They claimed to belong to a group and said that they just refused to recognize the authority of the security, the constables and anyone else in the building and refused to comply with any request to produce identification and then to leave the building.”
Popowich also noted “an interesting detail” that the two attack victims were relatively advanced in years. “Their ages are 69 and 70. They’re retirees, basically,” she said. “I don’t even know what to say.”
Rich and Burnard were scheduled to make their first court appearance on Aug. 27 at 9:30 a.m., according to the RPS release.