This weekend, tensions came to a dramatic head at the site of old-growth logging protests in Fairy Creek by Port Renfrew.
On Saturday August 21st, RCMP reported that pepper-spray was deployed against a crowd blocking the roadway and at least 30 individuals were arrested.
In a statement, RCMP said the pepper-spray was deployed when the group of protestors became aggressive.
The protestors were locked to an industry gate, preventing logging trucks from accessing the road. Approximately 30 individuals were arrested for contempt of court, including one minor.
“There was pushing and shoving and OC spray was deployed when the crowd failed to comply with police directions and became aggressive,” RCMP said in their daily update.
“One police officer was injured with a concession and transported to hospital. One protester was also assessed by EHS and transported from the area.”
Protestors have maintained that they are a non-violent protest group and said that RCMP are instigating the aggression.
“The RCMP have been told multiple times from multiple jurisdictions that their behaviour at Fairy Creek is unlawful and was to be ceased. RCMP have ignored the most recent ruling by Judge Thompson and have escalated the violence,” said one email.
Victoria Buzz received numerous anonymous emails over the weekend linking to videos of the incident.
The video below shows RCMP pepper-spraying the crowd of around 60 people and arresting protestors with physical force.
Warning: this video contains graphic imagery.
In light of the events from this past weekend, protests have been organized and are intended to occur at RCMP offices around Vancouver Island, Vancouver, and Toronto on Monday afternoon, August 23rd between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
“More and more it appears the RCMP is out of control at Fairy Creek. The news from the weekend is terrifying. Arrests have escalated. Please answer this call and rally at your community’s RCMP office against unlawful and violent RCMP actions at Ada’itsk/Fairy Creek,” organizers of the protest said.
RCMP Response to Misconduct
RCMP have been previously criticized for their use of excessive force in Fairy Creek, as well as been taken to court for establishing illegal exclusion zones for media.
“We would like to acknowledge that there are videos and comments which continue to circulate online of alleged police misconduct or excessive use of force in the course of their duties while arresting protesters, and of protesters receiving injuries as a result,” their statement read.
RCMP have also previously denied media exclusion; although, in July the Canadian Association of Journalists won a BC Supreme Court case against the RCMP after journalists were being restricted access at the sites of old-growth blockades.
Since RCMP enforcement began, 740 people have been arrested; including, 564 for breaching the court-ordered injunction, 147 were for obstruction, 13 were for mischief, 6 were for breaching their release conditions, and five for assaulting a police officer.