Six people have been arrested following the RCMP’s enforcement of a Supreme Court injunction removing a blockade along the Morice West Forest Service Road south of Houston.
Just after 4 a.m. officers went into the camp at the 39.5-kilometre mark to remove those whose presence would interfere with Coastal GasLink’s construction of a natural gas pipeline from Dawson Creek to Kitimat. Wet’suwet’en hereditary leadership and their supporters oppose construction of the pipeline.
Individuals were told that the area they were occupying was, as of 3 a.m., part of an RCMP exclusion zone and were given the option to depart the area or be arrested for obstruction.
Six people refused to leave the area and were arrested for obstruction. One individual was arrested for resisting arrest as well as obstruction. Several people, including members of the media, were transferred out of the area, but not arrested.
One man, dressed in a costume, fled from police and climbed up a tree. He was taken in custody a short time later without incident.
Another protester locked herself inside a vehicle, and removed her clothing, police say. A window was broken in order to gain access to that vehicle. No injuries were received by the protester and she was subsequently taken into custody.
All six people were transported to the Houston RCMP detachment for processing. They have all had access to counsel and it is anticipated that they will be released with an upcoming court date.
The exclusion zone established by the RCMP is expansive from the onset of the enforcement operation due to the remote location of the blockades. At this time, there are no restrictions on anyone from returning back to the 27km point, which has been designated as a protest and media site. However, due to the nature of the work being undertaken, the heavy machinery that is being brought in by the company, the treacherous weather and road conditions in the area, and other unforeseen circumstances, anyone traveling the Morice West Forest Service Road should anticipate being stopped and restricted from the area at any given point because the situation is dynamic and ongoing.
Once company employees have completed their work, the exclusion zone will be removed allowing for protests to resume within the area currently in the exclusion zone.
“While optically, due to the number of police officers deployed, our presence may appear imposing,” reads an RCMP statement. “In reality, a minimal amount of force was required to support the arrests or removal of individuals from within the exclusion zone.”