Teal Cedar Products’ application to extend an injunction against old-growth logging blockades at Fairy Creek has been denied by a B.C. Supreme Court judge.
In a decision made Tuesday (Sept. 28), Justice Douglas Thompson said the way the injunction was being enforced was having a “depreciation” of the court’s reputation. Thompson noted video evidence where RCMP officers pulled down face masks to pepper spray protesters, as well as grabbing objects from protests and destroying them. Thomspon also noted that some RCMP members removed their individual identification and wore thin blue line patches, a symbol that some consider offensive.
“On the other hand, methods of enforcement of the court’s order have led to serious and substantial infringement of civil liberties, including impairment of the freedom of the press to a marked degree.”
The injunction was granted in April of this year. Since then, RCMP made over 1,000 arrests.
Teal Cedar Prodcuts, which holds tree farm license 46 in Fairy Creek, sought to extend the injunction by a further 12 months.
Many of those protesters have accused the RCMP of using heavy-handed tactics and the Canadian Association of Journalists took the RCMP to court over their use of exclusion zones to keep media away from areas where protesters were being arrested.
“One journalist who has reported on all manner of police events in Canada and elsewhere, in both rural and urban settings, including civil disobedience events, deposed that the level of police restriction on journalist movement in TFL 46 was familiar to him from his work in China where he was accompanied by police who decided what he was allowed to see. In every other democratic society this journalist has worked in, he has been allowed to do his job without police escorts and exclusion zones,” Thompson wrote.
Thompson wrote that protest tactics had continued to escalate to a point where serious property damage has been done and risk of personal injury has emerged as protesters have dug multiple trenches in roadways and have built tripods up to 30-feet high that protesters suspended themselves from. However, Thompson pointed out that the protesters were largely peaceful and called them “good citizens” that strictly adhered to non-violent civil disobedience.
Thompson’s decision means the injunction ends at 4 p.m. Tuesday. Though the injunction is no longer in effect, RCMP still have the authority to enforce the law on matters that contravene the criminal code, which includes many of the civil disobedience tactics used by protesters.
In a statement to Black Press, Teal Cedar Products said they are reviewing the decision and maintain their work in Fairy Creek is vital to sustaining jobs and producing essential goods.
The Rainforest Flying Squad, the group behind much of the protests, said in a statement that they were encouraged by the court’s decision.
“We call on politicians and decision-makers to step up and fulfil their political obligation to protect ancient old-growth forests,” spokesperson Kathleen Code said. “We invite all those who recognize the vital importance of our remaining ancient rainforests to join us in protecting these forests now, and for future generations.”
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