RCMP officers removed protesters from locking devices known as “sleeping dragons” as they made seven arrests at blockades around the Fairy Creek watershed on Thursday, June 3.
Police reported that specially trained personnel assisted regular officers in removing protesters from various devices, including “sleeping dragons,” where a person secures their arm down a concrete-filled hole that’s reinforced with metal.
Seven people were arrested on Wednesday for breaking the BC Supreme Court injunction that prohibits protests and blockades on Tree Farm Licence 46, bringing the total number of arrests to 165, including some people who have been arrested more than once.
According to the Rainforest Flying Squad, the five people arrested at the Braden Gate camp, which protesters have renamed “Hayhaka,” were all women. Two of them held hands on a tarp before they were “carted away in dolly-like apparatuses,” two had chained themselves to a vehicle, and the fifth was chained underneath a van.
“I am here on Unceded Pacheedaht and Dididaht territory upon invitation by Elder Bill Jones and Victor Peter,” the RFS reported the fifth woman as saying just prior to her arrest. “I am here because we need Indigenous sovereignty; we need to protect the land and do our part and use our privilege to do something to better this earth. So I am here and I am chained in under this van and I’ll be here until the RCMP take me away.”
The RCMP have now arrested 165 people since enforcement of the injunction began on May 17. All arrested protesters have been taken to the Lake Cowichan RCMP detachment for processing.
Thursday marked the 300th day of direct action by protesters against old-growth logging on southern Vancouver Island, particularly in the Fairy Creek and Cayuse watersheds. The BC Supreme Court granted the injunction on April 1, and enforcement of the injunction began on May 17.
The RCMP said in their update on Thursday that they want to emphasize they are impartial in the dispute between the protesters and Teal-Cedar Products Ltd., which owns the logging rights to TFL 46.
“The Supreme Court of British Columbia granted an injunction order, which are mandatory directions for the parties and the police,” the police statment read. “The RCMP is not at liberty to choose which law to follow, nor do we have the option of refusing to enforce Court Orders and injunctions.
“While we respect the rights of individuals to peaceful, lawful and safe protest, within the terms set by the BC Supreme Court in the injunction, our primary concerns are public and police officer safety. Blocking roadways using the various methods and locking devices that individuals are being extracted from is contrary to the court order, and unlawful.
“The RCMP remain committed to enforcing the law using a measured approach. This includes providing an opportunity to choose to cease blocking access and, where individuals choose to continue breaching the court order, taking the time necessary to ensure those arrested are treated respectfully and with due care.”
Protesters have argued that police have set up exclusion zones and made arrests outside of the area immediately covered by the injunction.
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