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Protesters gather on Gardiners Road rail overpass in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en, Mohawk people

Protesters set up along CN rail overpass at Gardiners Road
Protesters say they are supporting Wet'suwet'en Hereditary Chiefs and Tyendinaga protesters.

A group of about 30 protesters set up on the Gardiners Road rail overpass in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and the Mohawk Nation Thursday morning.

This comes a day after significant protest action near Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, when a group of activists set fire to a vehicle on the railway tracks at Shannonville Road in Tyendinaga.

READ MORE: Fires set along railway tracks as protests continue in Tyendinaga

Earlier in the day, protesters at a camp next to the tracks just west of Marysville Road in Tyendianga set fire on the tracks, blocked the rails in front of an oncoming freight train, and threw debris, including burning pallets, at the train.

New protests at Tyendinaga create rising concerns as fires set
New protests at Tyendinaga create rising concerns as fires set

On Thursday, Kingston police say several protesters showed up at the Gardiners Road rail overpass, just north of the Bath Road and Gardiners Road intersection in Kingston’s west end, to protest. About seven police officers were at the scene and Kingston police say Kingston Fire and Rescue was called to the tracks. No fires were set at the scene. CN police and a CN work vehicle are also at the scene, but CN police refused to comment about the situation.

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A protester, Josh Suppan, told Global News the group planned to stay on the railway overpass until midnight Thursday, but the group disbanded before 11 a.m. There were no arrests.

One protester said that the majority of those out in Kingston on Thursday were “settler allies” who decided to show their support for those in Tyendinaga.

Protesters stand at the edge of the Gardiners Road rail overpass Thursday morning.
Protesters stand at the edge of the Gardiners Road rail overpass Thursday morning. Darryn Davis / Global News

A news release from a group that calls itself Defend Unistoten Katarokwi said the group arrived at the railway tracks in Kingston at 8 a.m. Thursday.

“We join the tens of thousands of Indigenous people, settlers and immigrants on this land known as Turtle Island to disrupt the only thing that government and corporate power recognizes: the conduits of corporate interests and business as usual,” the release said.

The group says it, like other activists across the country, is targeting rail travel in particular because it’s a key way to affect Canada’s economy.

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“The railroad has always been a colonial tool for resource extraction and is a key component of an economy that is stripping the earth, and leaving its water poisoned, its animals pushed to extinction, and its climate in destructive chaos. We are acting for Indigenous sovereignty, and the end of an economy which values profit over people and the land,” the release said.

On Monday, OPP finally moved in to remove a blockade at the Wyman Road railway crossing in Tyendinaga that had been blocking rail travel between Toronto and Montreal since Feb. 6.

READ MORE: OPP arrest multiple protesters at Tyendinaga Mohawk rail blockade

That blockade was the first of its kind, set up in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who are opposed to a natural gas pipeline running through their unceded land in northern B.C.

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Many other rail blockades have popped up across the country, halting passenger and freight rail in most of eastern Canada for over a week. Although many other blockades were dismantled, either by police or the protesters themselves, the blockade in Tyendinaga did not come down until OPP entered on Monday, arresting 10 people.

All 10 protesters were charged with mischief over $5,000 and disobeying a court order. They were also charged under the Railway Safety Act with entering land where line work is situated.

Three of the protesters were also charged with resisting arrest and one was additionally charged with obstructing a police officer.

Following those arrests, a second protest site in Tyendinaga materialized east of the original blockade, just west of Marysville Road in Tyendinaga. On Thursday, things became tense at the second site when CN started rolling freight trains on the tracks.

A Facebook livestream, posted by Real People’s Media, an organization that seems to be affiliated with the protesters, shows a small group of protesters yelling at OPP officers, who themselves were standing on the tracks.

Tyendinaga protesters stand on tracks attempting to block oncoming CN freight train
Tyendinaga protesters stand on tracks attempting to block oncoming CN freight train

When a train passed through the rail, the livestream showed protesters rushing to pile up pallets next to the railways, pouring gasoline on the pallets and lighting them on fire. One protester was also seen throwing burning pallets at the oncoming freight train.

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The train was stopped, and there was an effort to put out the fire.

When news of another train coming through the area came to the protesters, many of them walked down the tracks, putting debris, like heavy branches, on the rails. When the freight train arrived, the video showed protesters standing on the tracks, throwing rocks at the train, just narrowly missing being hit by the train.

It is in part in response to those altercations, and the arrests of the protesters on Monday, that the group in Kingston has chosen to set up on the railway pass until midnight Thursday.

“We oppose the recent acts of brutality by the OPP against Mohawk warriors on their land in Tyendinaga. These attacks have been justified by suggesting that a Mohawk presence on their own land disrupts Canadian communities’ access to food, fuel, and chlorine to purify water,” the news release said.

More to come.