Barely a week after a B.C. Supreme Court judge refused to extend an injunction against old-growth logging protesters near Fairy Creek on Vancouver Island, the province’s top court has reversed the decision — at least temporarily.
The BC Court of Appeal reimposed the injunction Friday on an interim basis, until logging company Teal Cedar’s appeal of the decision can be heard in November.
“It was complete and utter dismay, I was just really appalled by that,” Kathleen Code, spokesperson for protest group the Rainforest Flying Squad, said Saturday.
“That two courts could have such different and and differing opinions in spite of the fact that the reputation of the court is still in question, that the RCMP has behaved so despicably.”
Code was referring to Justice Douglas Thompson’s September ruling, which cited “unjustified, substantial and serious” breaches on civil liberties in the enforcement of the injunction.
Thompson found the RCMP had acted with “reasonable force” during much of the injunction period.
But he also found some video evidence that showed “disquieting lapses in reasonable crowd control,” including pulling the masks off protesters faces while pepper spray was being deployed and, in one case, smashing someone’s guitar.
The ruling also took Mounties to task for wearing “thin blue line” patches on their uniforms and improperly constraining the rights of media to access and document the site.
In a statement, Teal Cedar said it had the legal right to work in the area and that removing the injunction would “allow anarchy to reign over civil society.”
It added that protesters tactics were creating a safety risk in the area, including allegedly diverting culverts, digging trenches through roads and threatening to spike trees.
“The blockaders have been flouting both the stated wishes of the local First Nations and the well-reasoned court injunction, while engaging in dangerous and illegal activity and spreading misinformation through sophisticated and well-financed campaigns,” the company said.
Indigenous support of the protest is disputed.
The Rainforest Flying Squad says many members of the local Pacheedaht First Nation, including respected elder Bill Jones, back their actions.
“Elder Bill Jones has invited us to remain in place and and people on the ground have embraced that again,” Code said.
“They are really determined not to go anywhere. I really have to admire their stamina and their resilience in the face of everything that’s happened to us. They’re still not willing to stand down there. They are still willing to remain in place to defend what’s left of the trees.”
However, an April statement signed by two of the nation’s leaders asked protesters to leave.
“Pacheedaht is concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities in our Territory,” reads the statement signed by Hereditary Chief Frank Queesto Jones and elected Chief Councillor Jeff Jones.
“We do not welcome or support unsolicited involvement or interference by others in our territory, including third-party activism.”
Code said with the injunction back in place, demonstrators were prepared to risk arrest once again.
Teal Cedar’s appeal is slated to be heard beginning Nov. 15.