Tensions are heating up at the Fairy Creek blockades this week, as three separate assaults involving protest groups, RCMP, and logging workers occurred.
A shocking video of an assault on non-violent blockaders at Fairy Creek was captured and posted to social media this week.
The assault took place on the night of Monday, July 12th.
Earlier that night, Lake Cowichan RCMP received a complaint that blockaders and several vehicles were preventing workers from entering the Honeymoon Bay area.
In response to the protests, several loggers working for the Teal-Jones Group approached the area on Gordon River Road near Honeymoon Bay.
RCMP reported that a verbal argument had taken place earlier which escalated to a physical dispute later in the night.
The suspect of the assault, Glen, is seen punching a male protester who chained himself to the gate on Gordon River Road – other protesters are heard crying for the suspect to stop.
WARNING – The video below contains graphic content
According to the social media post from the Fairy Creek Blockade official social media page, the RCMP hung up the phone when they called to report the assault.
Emergency Health Services was called and one male was assessed but declined to remove himself from the locking device or to be transported to hospital.
Three individuals were ultimately removed from their locking devices and arrested for mischief, two of whom were minors.
Lake Cowichan RCMP are investigating the physical assault and ask anyone with information to please call them at(250) 749-6668.
Victoria Buzz has reached out to the Fairy Creek Blockade for more information.
In a separate incident on July 12th, The Rainforest Flying Squad also reported an assault via their social media.
According to the social media post, the protester was surrendering to arrest when RCMP officers “roughed him up” on the ground while they were arresting him.
Victoria Buzz has reached out to both The Rainforest Flying Squad and Lake Cowichan RCMP more information.
Assault on an Officer
RCMP also reported that an officer was assaulted and struck by a vehicle.
RCMP said that while officers were arresting one of the individuals on foot, the vehicle containing three individuals broke through the access control point, lost control and drove into a ditch.
The driver refused to stop, and while driving out of the ditch, struck an officer who was arresting an individual, and continued driving up Braden Mainline FSR.
The officer reported no injuries.
With the assistance of RCMP Air Services’ Air 5, the vehicle was located, approached by additional officers and stopped. Three individuals were arrested, the driver and one other individual for Assaulting a Peace Officer and Obstruction, and one for Resisting Arrest and Obstruction.
“Assaulting an officer with a vehicle is a potentially life threatening act of violence. Peaceful protest can take place without a risk of harming others. Criminal acts of violence will not be tolerated,” says Chief Superintendent John Brewer, Gold Commander of the RCMP Community-Industry Response Group.
Tensions at Blockades
Conflicts have been exasperated as of late.
RCMP reported that protests are going to dangerous physical lengths to hold the blockade, and meanwhile protestors report RCMP using aggressive and dangerous means to extract protestors from their positions.
Protestors at Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew have been locking themselves to PVC pipes and gates, as well as creating a pulley system in trees or tree structures as a form of blockade against logging.
RCMP have been using excavators to extract some protestors.
There have now been 403 arrests since police began enforcing the injunction in May, including at least 27 people who have been arrested more than once.
Last month, the BC government approved the request of three Vancouver Island First Nations to defer logging in about 2,000 hectares of old-growth forest in the Fairy Creek and central Walbran areas for two years.
Still, the protests continue.
This week also saw Victoria City Councillor, Ben Isitt, resign in his position of Vice Chair of the CRD First Nations Relations Committee after a video went viral online depicting the councillor offering money to a tow truck driver to stop towing vehicles belonging to protestors.
The Chief Council of the Pacheedaht Nation, who are the title land owners of the Fairy Creek watershed, condemned the councillor’s actions.
“It has recently come to our attention that Councillor Ben Isitt, a CRD Board member, has been actively supporting and involved in exactly the type of disrespectful behaviour that PFN (Pacheedaht First Nation) has strongly objected to,” wrote Chief Jeff Jones in a letter to the CRD on July 8th.
“We take the view that this is deplorably unacceptable behaviour for an elected official who is in a position of power and influence, and is capable by vote or behaviour of imposing negative impacts on our nation,” he said.