South Island old growth logging protesters not blinking at criminal charges
The blockades on logging roads in the Fairy Creek Watershed are about to mark one year (Aug. 9) of working to prevent licence-holder Teal Cedar from logging old-growth trees. Arrests have topped 500, and the standoff north of Port Renfrew on southern Vancouver Island does not show signs of resolving.
Judging by the number of people still at camps, the ‘catch and release’ arrests are not a deterrent. RCMP report that at least 39 people have been arrested more than once, but the majority are fresh offenders.
Week after week, RCMP officers come from throughout the province to enforce the injunction. But for every camp the RCMP evacuates, forest defenders establish another one within days. In late July, forest defenders pushed past a police line at Waterfall Camp and established a new area of hard blocks they’ve called Ewok Village. They trapped one huge excavator, four police trucks and a police van between the two blockades.
Two recent court rulings have potential to change the terms of engagement, but so far there’s been minimal impact. On July 19 the B.C. Prosecution Service announced it’s considering pressing criminal charges against people arrested on civil charges for defying the injunction order. The next day in a separate court room, Justice Douglas Thompson said the RCMP was wrong to restrict access so strictly using exclusion zones, noting the injunction called for continued public access.
A week later Black Press Media visited the blockades. A two-hour wait at a checkpoint staffed by police and private security contractors hired by Teal Cedar was followed by an escorted eight-kilometre uphill trek to the blockades.
A member of the RCMP’s division liaison team – a department meant to help people protest safely – said there was an operation ongoing at the camp and blasting work somewhere in the woods. It was up to the watch commander up the hill to grant media access.
“We have your media credentials, we have no problem granting you access, but we just have to make sure things are safe,” he said. He and another DLT member took a passenger up to camp – a member of some chamber of commerce – but would not allow the journalist to follow.
“If it’s safe for you to drive up, can’t I just follow in my car?” the journalist asked.
“I’m not going to negotiate with you. You can wait here for us to come back, we have to go up and take care of some business,” the watch commander said, gesturing to the man being escorted, “and then we’ll come back and deal with you.”
Two hours later, whatever business they had was taken care of, the watch commander allowed Black Press to drive to the protest camp, where the mood was peaceful.
Read the full article here: https://www.sookenewsmirror.com/news/fairy-creek-update-rcmp-play-waiting-game-with-determined-protesters/