Arrests continue to mount despite paused old growth logging on southern Vancouver Island

Number of arrests approach 200 in Fairy Creek protests as activists complain about RCMP tactics

Police monitor protesters at a blockade in the Fairy Creek area of southwestern Vancouver Island on Wednesday, June 9. (Facebook photo)

Police monitor protesters at a blockade in the Fairy Creek area of southwestern Vancouver Island on Wednesday, June 9. (Facebook photo)

The RCMP have responded to accusations that they used unneccesary tactics in making arrests at old-growth logging blockades in the Fairy Creek area on Monday and Tuesday.

Protests and arrests have continued this week despite a two-year deferral on old-growth logging in Vancouver Island’s Fairy Creek and Central Walbran areas announced by the provincial government in response to a declaration put forth over the weekend by three southwestern Vancouver Island First Nations.

The RCMP arrested 12 people on Monday, eight on Tuesday, and four on Wednesday, bringing the total number of arrests to 198 since enforcement began on May 17. At least 10 people have been arrested more than once.

The Rainforest Flying Squad, which is coordinating the protests, expressed concerns about some the arrests on Monday and Tuesday on the Fairy Creek Blockade Facebook page

According to the RFS, the first protester arrested was part of a group carrying supplies to Hayhaka Camp on the Braden Main Forestry Road. Police later made seven arrests at the camp, including two senior women, one of which was using a walker. Three of the people arrested were chained to the ground in “sleeping dragon” devices, one was chained to a tripod, and another was chained to the top of the tripod.

The RFS reported that the RCMP used an excavator to extract the protesters in the sleeping dragons.

“There are other safer methods they could employ, but they choose the intimidation of large machinery,” the Facebook report said.

There were also concerns about the arrest of the woman atop the tripod. She had attached her chains around her groin, and asked for a female officer to remove them, but her requests were allegedly denied.

The police responded that they are taking necessary precautions to keep all members of the public safe.

“Generally, the operation on June 7 and 8 to remove those using locking devices to block access was slow, methodical and completed by specially trained teams who took necessary safety precautions,” the RCMP said in a statement to Black Press Media. “The interaction between police and those arrested was observed by independent media, legal observers and protestors in close proximity. Much, if not all of this was captured on video. We are unaware of any complaints or injuries regarding the work done over these two days.

“Safety and respectful treatment of all persons is important to maintaining public confidence in this challenging operation. We will review the concerns contained in the post to ensure that we have benefit of the available evidence.”

The RFS also reported that the RCMP had bulldozed the Hayhaka Camp on Tuesday, but the police said that was a decision made by the logging company.

“The use of equipment to remove obstacles in the direction of [the camp] by Teal-Cedar Products Ltd. and not the RCMP.

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READ MORE: Behind the line at Fairy Creek: Inside B.C.’s old growth forest battleground

READ MORE: Vancouver Island First Nations declaration not enough for old-growth protesters

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