Twenty-eight demonstrators were arrested sitting outside of Kinder Morgan’s Vancouver worksite on Saturday only days after a court-ordered injunction created an indefinite five metre “exclusion-zone” around the Burnaby Mountain worksite. This was meant to keep away protesters that have for months been attempting to delay a pipeline twinning project that would stretch between Alberta and British Columbia.
Instead of backing off, the group has said they will continue to fight Kinder Morgan despite the injunction, even under threat of arrest. Before actions began Saturday, demonstrators ran a workshop on how to be arrested peacefully, and what information they would need to give police in case they were arrested.
That’s because actions at the Kinder Morgan site were a direct challenge to the injunction, and all participants did so knowing they would likely be arrested. The 28 arrested had physically blocked an entrance gate to the property, intentionally putting themselves within the five metre exclusion zone. About two hours into the demonstration, 14 then attached themselves to the fence with cable ties.
Though there was a limited police presence on the scene from the beginning, a large number arrived after the protestors tied themselves to the gate. Officers went through the crowd handing out copies of the injunction, before returning ten minutes later to perform arrests.
The group says their ultimate goal is to delay construction long enough to make the project unattractive to investors, as they claim every hour of delay costs Kinder Morgan tens of thousands of dollars.
“We’re putting our bodies on the line in the right way,” said Clayton Thomas-Müller, a Manitoba Cree man and environmental activist with the group 350.org who attached himself to the gate. “Investors in Kinder Morgan, we’re putting you on notice. You need to divest from Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain projects now.”
Thomas-Müller was later arrested by the RCMP after being cut free from the fence.
Although all of those arrested were allowed to leave after being processed by police, they are required to appear in court in the upcoming months. This is only the most recent string of arrests tied to the controversial energy infrastructure company’s work in the area; over fifty were arrested over a series of days in 2014 while attempting to halt Kinder Morgan’s survey work on Burnaby Mountain.
In that case, the courts had also granted an injunction to defend Kinder Morgan. Protesters claimed that using the courts to control and remove protesters was unjust, and that the document was an example of a SLAPP suit (strategic lawsuit against public participation).
That event included the arrest of Dr. Lynne Quarmby, a scientist and SFU’s molecular biology department chair who tweeted her support this weekend for “all of the brave people arrested in the fight for justice on Burnaby Mountain.”
As in 2014, demonstrators have said they plan continue blocking Kinder Morgan’s progress despite arrests. They will attempt to hold out until at least March 26, when federal migratory bird protection laws may force Kinder Morgan to halt construction until August.
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