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Police arrest five protesters for refusing to leave anti-logging blockades in B.C.

5 arrested at blockade

UPDATE 5 p.m.

Mounties arrested five people at anti-logging blockades on southern Vancouver Island as they enforced a court injunction Tuesday.

Dozens of RCMP officers converged on a series of camps along a remote Vancouver Island logging road to begin the process of clearing the site for forest workers.

The officers stood outside at least two protest sites and read the details of a B.C. Supreme Court injunction prohibiting the protests in the forests near Lake Cowichan and Port Renfrew.

Staff Sgt. Jason Charley, who read the terms of the injunction issued by the court on April 1, told protesters the warning was a chance for people to leave on their own terms.

“We’ll be back in 20 minutes,“ Charley said.

Protesters have been camping in the Fairy Creek Watershed northeast of Port Renfrew for several months, drawing attention to what they say is the last unprotected, intact old-growth forests on southern Vancouver Island.

Officers marched back to the camp gates, which included a large culvert pipe blocking the road and a makeshift teepee, and arrested two people.

“I came here to protect the old growth trees, simply put," said Mitchell Steinke as he strummed a guitar and sang songs about trees.

Steinke and Vancouver Island resident Val Embree, a grandmother, who described herself as a longtime forests protector, were arrested and led away by police.

Minutes later at a second camp, RCMP arrested a man and woman but not before having to remove the couple from a road gate to which they had chained themselves.

“I feel like industry and government have put shackles around our people,” said Rainbow Eyes, an Indigenous woman from Knight Inlet. "I’m so happy to stand up for the trees."

Police asked Eyes and Brandon Busby, who was also chained to the gate, if they wanted to leave the area or face arrest.

Both said they wanted to be arrested.

Police said in a news release that a fifth person was arrested after refusing to leave and all five people were expected to be processed and released by the end of the day Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, more than a dozen police vehicles were seen heading south up the Caycuse Main logging road south of Lake Cowichan.

Police drones were above protest areas and an RCMP helicopter circled overhead. Dozens of supporters stood in the rain, chanting "this is what democracy looks like,” and carried placards with pictures of trees that said, "worth more standing."

Police are enforcing the injunction that allows Teal-Cedar Products to begin logging activities.

Teal Jones vice-president Gerrie Kotze has said logging plans for the Fairy Creek watershed have been "mischaracterized" because trees can't be cut in most of it. Harvesting is only planned for a small area far from the San Juan River, he said last month.


ORIGINAL 10:40 a.m.

An RCMP spokesman says there will be "police action" today as Mounties enforce a court injunction against an anti-logging blockade on southern Vancouver Island.

The RCMP announced Monday that they are temporarily controlling access to the Fairy Creek Watershed northeast of Port Renfrew, enforcing the April 1 injunction that allows Teal-Cedar Products to start logging activities.

The Rainforest Flying Squad, whose members are among those opposed to the harvest, say they were given 24 hours to leave the controlled area or face arrest.

The protesters have been maintaining multiple camps around Fairy Creek, as well as at cutblocks in the Caycuse area west of Cowichan Lake.

The Mounties have set up a checkpoint along a forest service road leading to the Caycuse camp and about two dozen police vehicles moved past it earlier today.

RCMP Const. Alex Berube says "police action" will occur, but a "measured" approach will be used so no one is hurt.

He says the police vehicles and other RCMP preparations are to ensure officers are adequately prepared.

Teal Jones vice-president Gerrie Kotze has said logging plans for the Fairy Creek watershed have been "mischaracterized" because trees can't be cut in most of it. Harvesting is only planned for a small area far from the San Juan River, he said last month.

Opponents of logging say the watershed is one of the last unprotected, intact, old-growth forests on southern Vancouver Island.



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