Weapons, mischief charges withdrawn against Coutts woman who hosted protesters during blockade

Joanne Person, 63, was charged following protests at the Coutts crossing in 2022. (Facebook - image credit)
Joanne Person, 63, was charged following protests at the Coutts crossing in 2022. (Facebook - image credit)

One of the protesters who was arrested and charged during the border blockades at Coutts, Alta., last winter has seen two of her charges withdrawn.

Joanne Person, 63, was charged with possession of a weapon and mischief to property following nighttime RCMP raids on her property.

On Monday, prosecutor Steven Johnston asked the judge to withdraw those offences.

As part of the brief court hearing, Johnston confirmed there was also an order of forfeiture in relation to a .22-calibre rifle found in Person's home.

Johnston would not comment on why the charges were dropped.

Person still faces a charge of dangerous driving, and is set to go to trial next month.

The on-again, off-again blockade of the busy border crossing by people opposed to COVID-19 health restrictions lasted more than two weeks, from late January to mid-February.

Person lives in Coutts, halfway between Smuggler's Saloon — which became a protest headquarters — and the protest site.

Christopher Lysak, Chris Carbert and Anthony Olienick — three of the four men now accused of conspiring to murder RCMP officers — were sleeping in trailers on Person's property.

The execution of RCMP search warrants in the early morning hours of Feb. 14, 2022, resulted in the seizure of more than a dozen firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition and body armour.

Those raids resulted in the seizure of a cache of weapons, ammunition, body armour and the arrests of more than a dozen people.

Investigators believe Lysak, Carbert, Olienick and Jerry Morin were a sub-group of protesters who had armed themselves for a standoff with police.

A month after she was first arrested, Person was charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle stemming from an incident during the protests on Feb. 1, 2022, when a large pickup truck drove through an RCMP blockade set up near Milk River. The truck drove into oncoming traffic, crashing head-on with another vehicle.

A trial on that charge is set to take place for two days beginning Feb. 16.