Police began making arrests at an old-growth logging protest camp near Port Renfrew on Saturday, while continuing action at a similar site in the Caycuse area.
Protesters at both sites, the RCMP say, are breaching a B.C. Supreme Court injunction order that applies to a Tree Farm Licence owned by Teal-Cedar Products, Ltd.
Six protesters were arrested at the camp near Port Renfrew on Saturday, one day after they were informed that enforcement would begin at their location. At the Caycuse camp on the McClure Forest Road, two people were removed from a structure that had been built above the ground between two trees.
Around noon on Saturday, police say a large group of people crossed police tape at a checkpoint on the McClure Forest Service Road and entered the access control area, contrary to the Supreme Court order. They told police that they wanted to perform a ceremony past the checkpoint and were allowed to proceed.
“While returning, the large group stopped at the checkpoint near the parked police vehicles, blocking traffic in both directions along the McClure Forest Service Road,” BC RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Chris Manseau said. “The court-ordered injunction was read to the group of individuals blocking the roadway and [they] were provided an opportunity to leave or face arrest. About 25 individuals were arrested for breaching the injunction (civil contempt of court), and more arrests are pending as they continue to refuse to abide by the injunction and leave the area.”
On the previous day, Friday, May 20, police had attempted to remove one protester from the tree structure at the Caycuse camp, but they used a zipline to escape. The individual was tracked down later in the day and arrested. Another person was arrested for obstruction and later arrested without charges.
Since enforcement of the Supreme Court injunction began on Monday, May 17, the RCMP have arrested 59 protesters: 47 for breaching the injunction, and 12 for obstruction. Police are recommending additional charges — including obstruction, possession of stolen property, and assaulting a police officer — against some of the 47 who have been charged with breaching the injunction. All arrested protesters have been taken to the Lake Cowichan RCMP detachment for protesting, and court appearances have taken place in Nanaimo.
Manseau also acknowledged claims online regarding treatment of arrested protesters at the camps and during transport to the Lake Cowichan RCMP detachment and court in Nanaimo, encouraging anyone with a complaint to contact the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP.
“Ultimately, our officers are equipped with video recording devices and we are prepared to submit all footage as evidence in the court of law,” he said. “Body-worn video provides increased transparency, while also providing a first-person view of what a police officer encounters, oftentimes in highly dynamic and tense situations.”