Protesters not 'terrorists': Lawyers argue against Fairy Creek injunction extension

Protesters not 'terrorists'

A British Columbia court heard today from lawyers who say people from all walks of life with concerns about protecting old-growth trees from logging on Vancouver Island are being treated like terrorists by the police and a forestry company.

The lawyers represent about half a dozen people who oppose a court application by Teal Cedar Products Ltd. to extend an injunction order against protest blockades in the Fairy Creek area by one year.

About 1,000 people have have been arrested in the area north of Port Renfrew since May when the RCMP started to enforce an earlier B.C. Supreme Court injunction against blockades erected in several areas near logging sites.

Lawyer Elizabeth Strain showed the court videos and photographs of police allegedly unsafely removing protesters from trees and ditches, and pulling off the face masks of people at the blockades before dousing them with pepper spray.

She says the protesters include youth, teachers, retired scientists, doctors, lawyers and students with fears about climate change and they want to protect the trees, but they are being treated like terrorists.

During the hearing, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Douglas Thompson said the protesters appear to be employing tactics purposely designed to make enforcement of the injunction difficult for the police.

Lawyer Matthew Nefstead, who is representing several members of the Rainforest Flying Squad protest group, says granting the injunction extension should be denied because it could be viewed by the police as granting them further powers.

Teal Cedar lawyer Dean Dalke told the court Tuesday the blockades are impeding the company's legal rights to harvest timber and alleged the actions of the protesters pose dangers to employees and the RCMP.

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