Arrests continue at B.C. old-growth logging blockades

RCMP officers assess the situation as a protester lies on the ground at an anti-logging protest in Caycuse, B.C. on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne

Dozens of police officers descended upon the Caycuse camp within the Fairy Creek watershed, enforcing a court injunction against blockades preventing Teal-Jones from accessing several stands of old-growth forest.

As of May 20, there have been 21 arrests made since the RCMP began enforcing the injunction on Tuesday, May 18.

The Rainforest Flying Squad, an old-growth activist group, have been stationed at the blockades near Port Renfrew since last August to protect one of B.C.’s last remaining watersheds untouched by industrial logging.

Read more: Seven more arrests at B.C. blockade opposing old-growth logging: RCMP

Despite the police presence, they are continuing to stand their ground.

After the Fairy Creek watershed area along the McClure Forest Service Road was cleared of protestors on Wednesday, May 19 and deemed “closed” by the RCMP, several activists returned to the enforcement area and attached themselves to structures.

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Police efforts to remove the protestors resumed the following morning and seven arrests were made, according to an RCMP statement.

Click to play video: 'Protestors return to Fairy Creek despite court injunction' Protestors return to Fairy Creek despite court injunction
Protestors return to Fairy Creek despite court injunction – May 20, 2021

Six of the arrests were for breaching the injunction and one person was escorted out of the blockade with no recommended charges.

“The RCMP are also recommending that two individuals be charged with obstruction, two for possession of stolen property and one for obstruction and assaulting a police officer,” read the statement.

Media was not permitted access beyond the “exclusion zone” to document the arrests until afternoon on May 20, owing to the RCMP’s “resource availability,” said RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Chris Manseau.

Read more: Police operations continue at Fairy Creek B.C. logging protest

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The Rainforest Flying Squad accused the RCMP of assaulting an Indigenous woman that morning.

“The violence enacted by the RCMP and industry directly suppresses Indigenous sovereignty, and the cultural and spiritual connection of Indigenous people to their land,” a forest protector, who asked not to be identified, told the media.

This is “genocide and ecocide,” she added.

Meanwhile, the Pacheedaht First Nation have spoken in opposition of the blockades. The Fairy Creek watershed is within Pacheedaht territory.

“We do not welcome or support unsolicited involvement or interference by others in our territory,” reads the letter, which is signed by Hereditary Chief Frank Queesto Jones and Chief Councillor Jeff Jones.

Click to play video: 'Arrests made at Fairy Creek anti-logging protest' Arrests made at Fairy Creek anti-logging protest
Arrests made at Fairy Creek anti-logging protest – May 18, 2021

Manseau said it’s too early to draw any conclusions about confrontations with police.

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“The RCMP uses a carefully measured response to civil disobedience and unlawful acts,” he said. “We will use only level of force necessary to ensure the safety of all citizens, enforce laws and to maintain peace, order and security.”

READ MORE: RCMP move to end blockade against logging of forest on Vancouver Island

Unless there is an ongoing investigation, more information will be shared publicly as it becomes available, he added.

Eventually, media was escorted past the Caycuse blockade, which had already been cleared of protestors, to a site where one woman was suspended in a makeshift wooden structure high up in the trees on Thursday afternoon (May 20).

“I’m doing this because it’s the last stand for our ancient forests,” the woman, who identified herself as Pony, shouted. “This is all a tactic to slow down the destruction of the forest.”

The Caycuse blockade is the only camp where the injunction has been enforced thus far.

Members of the Rainforest Flying Squad widely speculate it’s because there are felled trees on the ground in the area from logging operations that were underway before the blockade was established. It is also believed to be the place that Teal-Jones could resume work most quickly.

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Teal-Jones and the RCMP did not respond in time for publication.

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