Protesters and police confront at the barricades

Arrests continue at Fairy Creek, allegations of police violence surface online

Warning: The following report contains trigger words and accounts of violent actions that some may find offensive. The opinions expressed belong to the people speaking and are necessarily shared by Cortes Radio, its staff, reporters or volunteers.

CKTZ News, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

There have been more arrests and more allegations of police brutality, as protesters continue to resist RCMP enforcement of a BC Supreme Court injunction order in the Fairy Creek Watershed.

Yesterday, a video of 82-year-old Pacheedaht First Nations Elder Bill Jones inviting people to the Fairy Creek Watershed was posted on the Raincoast Flying Squad Facebook page.

Photo credit: Shawna Knight with a police hat that was left behind when the RCMP raided her camp. Screenshot taken from a video on Rainforest Flying Squad Facebook page

“Help us save the last of the old growth and I plead you to bring your friends, all of your friends, to show them how important and tender this ecosystem is,” he said in the video.

There were 49 arrests Wednesday, which brings the total over the last ten days to 167.

“Throughout the day, officers once again removed individuals in locking or tripod-like devices, and deep trenches dug in the roads. Police were also met with a large group of protesters along the road. Despite requests to disperse and leave the area, individuals remained and were subsequently arrested,” The RCMP stated in a press release Aug. 18.

A  protester named Luke Wallace posted allegations of the physical violence police meted out to some of the women. Two Indigenous women, one of them a member of the Pacheedaht Nation, needed medical attention after being set upon by groups of RCMP officers. Another woman was not able to walk the night after she was forcibly extracted from a “dragon,” Wallace said in the video.

“RCMP have no clue what they are doing extracting people. They are using excavators beside people’s heads, to try and dig up ditches,” said Wallace.   

Woman flees the trench she occupied, as heavy machinery is brought against her. Screenshot taken from a video on Rainforest Flying Squad Facebook page

“We have gotten to the point that we are having internal conversations about ‘what ifs’ and I never want to ask what if this happens. It is frightening to talk about the potential of human death and extreme injury in these circumstances, when we are exerting our peaceful right to protest and are here standing up for the land in a completely non-violent fashion,” he continued.

Wallace claims people have fallen as much as 25 ft when police chainsawed the tripods they are in.

Another protester took to Facebook to talk about their experience at Fairy Creek.

“No matter what these guys do up here: cut down our sits; or take all our s___, raid our camps and ruin everything that we’ve tried to build over the past year – and it takes them such a short time to destroy and ruin everything — it doesn’t matter. We’ll just build it again,” posted Shawna Knight on Facebook.

“It is absolutely disgusting and mortifying to think this is what we’ve come to as a species,” she added. “We do not even care about all the other things that we are affecting on the planet, all the other species and our future as we know it. We just want the money, now. Well there are some of us that don’t feel that way and you are never going to be able to stop us.”

A protester looks up from one of the trenches. Photo courtesy of the Rainforest Flying Squad Facebook page.

It has been a year and ten days since the forest defenders set up the first blockade to stop the Teal Jones Group from logging what protesters claim is the last intact old growth watershed in southern Vancouver Island.

There have been 690 arrests since police began to enforce the injunction three months ago.

The struggle has been particularly intense since Aug. 9, when a BC Supreme Court judge released his finds that the RCMP exclusion zones and associated checkpoints “are unlawful.”

Top photo credit: Three RCMP officers remove a young woman from one of the barricades at Fairy Creek – Photo courtesy Rainbow Flying Squad facebook page