'We need your help': rally planned Thursday morning at Gerald Stanley hearing

RCMP have scaled back police presence outside the preliminary hearing of accused murderer Gerald Stanley after the Boushie family said the presence was intimidating and sends the wrong message.

Preliminary hearing is expected to wrap up Thursday

Chris Murphy, the lawyer for Colten Boushie's family, says the heavy RCMP presence at the preliminary hearing for the man charged in Boushie's death makes it look like the courthouse block is on lockdown. (Matthew Garand/CBC)

A rally is being organized at the North Battleford provincial court Thursday morning before the third day of Gerald Stanley's second-degree murder preliminary hearing.

Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations youth co-chair Andre Bear, who was in North Battleford Tuesday to support the family of victim Colten Boushie, says "people who believe there should not be prejudices within the legal system" are encouraged to attend.

"Whoever you are, we need your help," Bear said following an emotional day in court and an eventful day outside.

"It's ridiculous how this legal system is working backwards to protect the alleged murderer of this Indigenous youth."

Stanley has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

The rally is scheduled for 9 a.m. in front of the provincial courthouse.
Bear says 'people who believe there should not be prejudices within the legal system' are encouraged to attend. (Jason Warick/CBC)

​Tuesday afternoon, RCMP scaled back their massive security presence from the North Battleford provincial court building just hours after the family of victim Colten Boushie told the CBC the operation was "intimidating."

An emailed statement from the RCMP said the heavy security was "not intended to send any message." No explanation was offered for the change late Tuesday afternoon.

"Public safety is our number one priority. Situations are assessed and resources are deployed accordingly in order to ensure public safety. We then evaluate and adjust those resources as the situation dictates," said the email.

Protecting who, and from what exactly? That's not clear to us, especially with the history my family's had thus far with the  RCMP .- Jade Tootoosis

The blockades and cruisers with lights were removed, and far fewer RCMP patrolled the grounds and hallways for the rest of the day.

Earlier in the day, Boushie family members said the massive RCMP security presence at the North Battleford, Sask., courthouse was sending the wrong message to residents and potential jurors.

They said it was another example of poor communication and the mishandling of the case by RCMP.

"Protecting who, and from what exactly? That's not clear to us, especially with the history my family's had thus far with the RCMP," Boushie's cousin Jade Tootoosis said outside court Tuesday.

Colten Boushie's cousin Jade Tootoosis questions why there is a heavy police presence during the preliminary hearing of Gerald Stanley when they could be policing rural areas instead. (Jason Warick/CBC)

Stanley, a Biggar, Sask.-area farmer, is charged with second-degree murder in the Aug. 9, 2016, shooting of the Red Pheasant Cree Nation man. Details of preliminary hearings are banned from publication.

Tootoosis said rather than being at the hearing, RCMP should be out policing "farmers with firearms," a reference to a Facebook group of rural Saskatchewan residents.

"They should be addressing that, not being here and kind of intimidating my family, witnesses walking in or potential jurors that are driving by. What kind of message do they think they're sending?" Tootoosis said.

"It doesn't make me feel well."

No large gatherings

The hearing is due to wrap up Thursday. Judge Bruce Bauer will then decide whether there's enough evidence to order a full trial, possibly with a jury.

The case has drawn national attention and become a lighting rod for race relations in the province.

I'm just concerned the security is potentially sending the wrong message to the community.- Chris Murphy, lawyer

There was no sign of the hundreds who gathered, chanting "justice for Colten" at Stanley's bail hearing several months ago. The atmosphere in the courtroom was emotional but respectful, with Stanley and Boushie supporters sitting on opposite sides.

Though the scene was quiet, security was sizable at first. 

More than a dozen uniformed officers patrolled the grounds, the halls and the courtroom. Extra court security was brought in to operate the metal detector and frisk those attending.

Lawyer Chris Murphy says the police presence is sending the wrong message to the community. (Jason Warick/CBC)

Boushie family lawyer Chris Murphy, a Saskatchewan native now working as a criminal lawyer in Toronto, said he hadn't seen anything like it before.

"I'm just concerned the security is potentially sending the wrong message to the community. Potential jurors are passing this courthouse every day ... It looks like this block is on lockdown," Murphy said.

Murphy and Boushie family members have taken exception to RCMP actions at several points in the case, from the initial news release about the shooting — which some felt blamed Boushie and his friends — to the failure to secure key evidence such as the vehicle involved.

Stanley's lawyer, Scott Spencer, said Monday he was glad to see everyone acting respectfully. Both sides say they simply want the truth to come out.