Rallies planned in support of anti-pipeline protesters arrested in northern B.C.

Rallies are planned for Tuesday in support of those arrested at an anti-pipeline protest camp in northern B.C.

The RCMP say officers arrested 14 people Monday evening for allegedly violating the conditions of an interim court injunction that required the removal of a blockade on a forest service road that is preventing access to a pipeline project.

The interim injunction, issued by the B.C. Supreme Court in mid-December, orders anyone who interferes with the Coastal GasLink project in and around the Morice River Bridge to remove any obstructions.

The pipeline route travels through Wet’suwet’en First Nation territory, and the nation’s elected leaders signed a benefits agreement with the province for Coastal GasLink in 2014.

One rally is planned to take place in Victoria starting at 12 p.m.

Called Rise and Resist, organizers are asking participants to meet at the B.C. legislature totem pole.

There is also a rally planned in Courtenay from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. Participants are asked to meet at 437 5th St.

In Vancouver, participants are asked to meet at the B.C. Supreme Court at 11:30 a.m. for a march to Victory Square.

Vancouver rally organizer Natalie Knight told Global News they are expecting 500 to 700 people.

These events in B.C. are part of dozens of rallies planned across the country Tuesday.

“We are responding to and echoing a call on all people of conscience to act in solidarity through an international day of action on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019,” read a post on the Climate Justice Edmonton Facebook page. The group is organizing a rally in Alberta’s capital along with a group called Indigenous Climate Action.

Tuesday morning, Jeffery Brown, Chief Madeek, a head chief of the Gidumt’en clan of the Wet’suwet’en Nation, told Global News, RCMP are now on their way to dismantle the second camp, where about 22 demonstrators are stationed.

“I really appreciate all the support we are getting all over the world,” Brown said. “We should have done this probably a month ago to start this rally because we waited for the court injunction, we waited for the police to arrive and everything was in the last minute. So we have to be a little bit more prepared in the next round.”

Brown added he wasn’t happy with the amount of force the RCMP used against the protesters on Monday.

“There was over probably 100 cops out there with the tactical team. That was way too many people, way too many officers out there.”

“We lost this battle but the war continues and I want to emphasize war on that. Our battle is not finished yet,” Brown added. “We still [have] a lot of work to do and we are going to step up and do it.”

In statements issued Monday, the RCMP say they arrived at the camp in northern B.C. around 11 a.m. that day. By 3 p.m., they entered the blockade after a meeting with a number of hereditary elders and Coastal GasLink failed to resolve the issue without police involvement.

By 6:45 p.m., police had made a number of arrests from the blockade set up by Gitdumt’en on Morice West Forest Service Road. RCMP also say they observed a number of fires being lit along the roadway by “unknown persons,” with large trees felled across the roadway.

In their statement, RCMP dispute reports that they jammed communications in the area in order to prevent the media and public from communicating the unfolding situation to the outside world. They say the area is extremely remote, and even police had limited access to communication other than their radios.

Police also say reports that the Canadian military was present are erroneous, saying they have deployed tactical and emergency response teams as part of their “measured and scalable approach to enforcing the court-ordered injunction.”

RCMP say they set up a “temporary exclusion zone,” where the police do not allow access to anyone — media or otherwise — who is not part of the enforcement team.

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