Police arrest 33 anti-pipeline protesters at Vancouver port as they enforce court injunction

Police arrested 33 demonstrators at the Port of Vancouver at Hastings and Clark streets early Monday as they enforced an injunction against protesters blocking access to the site.

The protest was organized in support of the Wet’suwet’en heriditary leaders’ opposition to the development of a gas pipeline through their traditional territory in Northern B.C. Over the weekend, the RCMP arrested 21 people blocking the Coastal Gaslink workers from accessing the site.

Dozens of officers arrived at the intersection in Vancouver around 5:30 a.m. PT, and the text of the injunction was announced several times over a loudspeaker. Police removed barricades blocking access to the port, and the ramp to the port is now open to vehicles.

Shortly after 6 a.m. PT, about a dozen protesters remained around a fire burning in the roadway. Officers reminded people they would be arrested if they remain in the road. By 8 a.m. PT, the police had successfully cleared all demonstrators from the intersection and put the fire out.

Whess Harman, multidisciplinary artist from the Carrier Wei’at Nation, said non-Indigenous volunteers had remained in the roadway as a strategy to prevent Indigenous youth protesters from being arrested.

Demonstrators had blocked two other port entrances in Vancouver, as well as the Deltaport, where local police arrested 14 protesters early Monday morning. Delta police said an ambulance was called for one person “out of an abundance of caution.” Protesters had first blockaded the Deltaport on Feb. 8.

In Vancouver, there were reports of a firecracker and a few bottles being thrown in the crowd, but the situation appeared fairly peaceful, with officers telling people they can remain in the area, but must contain themselves to the sidewalk.

“We are peaceful people, and no one is here to incite any violence,” said Harman, adding they will not stand down until the RCMP withdraw from  Wet’suwet’en territories.

Speaking as a guest on CBC Radio’s The Early Edition, federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said these protests make clear that a significant portion of people remain firmly opposed to the project. He noted, however, that 20 local First Nation band councils continue to support the pipeline’s development, despite the opposition of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary leaders.

Wilkinson added that jurisdiction dictates this project as primarily a provincial matter.

Train blockade in northwestern B.C.

In New Hazelton, west of Smithers, B.C., protesters were blocking railways and affecting Canadian National Railway service.

Sean Finn, executive vice-president and chief legal officer of Canadian National Railway, said the blockade was preventing trains from servicing the Port of Prince Rupert.

According to Finn, neither freight nor passengers have been able to move in or out since Saturday. He said the disruption is impacting the national economy, as consumer goods are stuck in the port and grain and coal aren’t able to make it to market.

“We recognize the right for our First Nation partners to protest, but we think occupying the main line is not a safe thing to do,” said Finn.

Finn said RCMP were at the blockade monitoring the situation and the company is “looking at legal remedies” to get service running again.


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