Arrests are piling up as protesters continue to stand at the Caycuse blockade against old-growth logging.
Meanwhile, another fight spawns: freedom of press.
A coalition of media outlets intend to take the RCMP to court over the “limited” access to cover a demonstration against the logging of an old-growth forest currently taking place in the Fairy Creek watershed, near Port Renfrew.
The Canadian Association of Journalists, among other Canadian publications including The Narwhal and Ricochet Media, are challenging the RCMP in the BC Supreme Court over fair access for media.
CPJ calls on @rcmpgrcpolice to cease blocking journalists from covering protests on Vancouver Island.
— Committee to Protect Journalists (@pressfreedom) May 26, 2021
Since the enforcement of the injunction on May 17th, set forth by the BC Supreme Court in favour of the Teal-Jones Group, the RCMP has set up exclusion zones for protesters and media.
Tensions are rising as both journalists and protestors are speaking out against the RCMP’s enforcement tactics and the exclusion zones that limit access for media.
A formal letter from the coalition was sent on May 25th to the RCMP.
The RCMP said they have shifted how they are proceeding with allowing media to cover the enforcement at the Caycuse Blockade near Lake Cowichan, since it began.
“Initially, we were only allowing the media during enforcement. But the RCMP discussed and decided that during enforcement, the media must be escorted,” said Cpl. Chris Manseau.
“Most journalists on scene were allowed access without issue. Because of the locking mechanisms [attached to protestors], we said, for their [the media’s] safety, that they back up. Everyone agreed, except one.”
Protesters with the Wilderness Committee at the Caycuse Blockades told Victoria Buzz that two journalists have been arrested; one of which was a documentary filmmaker, and another who was a Nuu-Chah-Nulth journalist.
According to the Wilderness Committee and RCMP, the journalists were breaching past the exclusion zones.
A video was posted to the Fairy Creek Blockade Instagram of the arrest of a documentary filmmaker.
“Over the past week, we’ve repeatedly seen the RCMP shift the goal posts on how it plans to allow journalists access in order to cover this important public interest story,” said Brent Jolly, CAJ president.
“Every day is a new day with new excuses from the RCMP about why access is limited. Enough is enough.”
As of this publication, there have been 58 arrests since Monday, May 24th, for a total of 127 people arrested since RCMP began enforcing the injunction.
In their daily press release on the enforcement on Wednesday, the RCMP said all arrests can be verified within the area of the injunction.
“There are a number of claims being made online that police are operating and making arrests outside the injunction area,” said the RCMP statement.
“Attached in this news release is the map of the injunction boundary, which was included as an addendum to the BC Supreme Court’s Order granted to Teal-Cedar Ltd. on April 1st, 2021.”
The map of the injunction area can be seen below: