Tag Archives: Activists

RCMP And ERT Arrest 7 Activists On Kinder Morgan Drilling Barge (VIDEO)


Update: Several activists arrested on Kinder Morgan barge

Police arrested seven activists aboard a Kinder Morgan drilling barge near the Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby Monday morning.

According to anti-pipeline activist Adam Gold, two protesters boarded the barge Sunday and stayed overnight. More protesters arrived to join them and bring supplies Monday morning. That’s when police showed up and removed the group.

Video: Burnaby Mountain Updates

According to the Burnaby RCMP, seven protesters were arrested with help from the Lower Mainland Emergency Response Team.

“Early this morning, the Burnaby RCMP was asked to remove the protestors as it was not safe for them to remain onboard and they were impeding the work being performed on the barge,” the police stated in a release. “The Burnaby RCMP would like to remind the public that the drilling barge is private property and as such those persons arrested will be facing criminal mischief charges.”

On Sunday, activists issued a news release saying they had seized the Kinder Morgan drilling barge on the Burrard Inlet, around noon.

In the release on Facebook, it said, “Kinder Morgan has not undertaken the necessary consultation with Hereditary Chiefs, and they are infringing upon the sovereignty of indigenous people of the unceded lands and waters here in Coast Salish Territory.”

It also announced that two activists had taken direct action, stating “This action is in solidarity with all indigenous nations displaced by the Tar Sands, along the current and proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline routes, and in solidarity with the Secwepemc Nation and Secwepemc Woman Warrior Society.”

Kinder Morgan is drilling boreholes around the Westridge Marine Terminal – similar to the survey work that spurred mass protests on Burnaby Mountain last fall. The work will continue until Feb 29.

Kinder Morgan’s $6.8-billion plan to expand the Trans Mountain pipeline includes expanding the Westridge Marine Terminal, where tankers fill up with crude.

The Westridge dock is slated for expansion if Kinder Morgan gets approval to twin the Trans Mountain pipeline. The company is drilling around the dock to collect soil samples, which is upsetting some pipeline opponents. Photograph By Jennifer Moreau

The Westridge dock is slated for expansion if Kinder Morgan gets approval to twin the Trans Mountain pipeline. The company is drilling around the dock to collect soil samples, which is upsetting some pipeline opponents. Photograph By Jennifer Moreau. Burnaby Now

The Westridge Marine Terminal falls within the traditional territory of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, which is opposed to the pipeline expansion.

By Red Power Media, Staff, Updated Jan 19, 2016

Civil Disobedience Often Leads To Jail. But Now, Protesters Can Explain Themselves


Above Photo: Activists blockaded an oil train like this one in Minnesota. A judge will let the jury consider why they did it. Photograph: Tom Wallace/AP

By Tim DeChristopher, www.theguardian.com, Jan 14th, 2016

In a historic ruling, several environmental campaigners will be able to argue at criminal trial that their political motives are a defense to their illegal acts.

Note: The necessity defense is an old defense but it has been blocked in most courts in the US, essentially taking away the jury’s right to consider all the facts in the case. Good to see this breakthrough in Washington State. Last year we tried a necessity defense in Cove Point with activists arrested for trespass as part of a campaign to stop the building of a fracked gas export terminal but the judge immediately stopped us from proceeding. See Twenty Cove Point Activist Move Calvert County Court.

I first ran across the necessity defense in my work on medical marijuana. Medical marijuana patients were able to use the defense in two states and the District of Columbia. People who were suffering severe and chronic illness were successful in their defense. The first case involved Robert Randall in Washington, DC — a key leader in the medical marijuana movement who had glaucoma and went on to become the first patient to legally get a prescription for marijuana. He won that when after his acquittal he sued the federal government in a civil case for denying him much needed medicine. The government settled the case and agreed to provide him marijuana. They tried to silence him as part of the settlement — we’ll give it to you but don’t tell anyone. Randall refused and he and his partner, Alice O’Leary-Randall, went on to lead the medical marijuana movement in the 70s and 80s.

In the face of governmental failure in addressing climate change, the climate movement has seen a dramatic increase of civil disobedience. The threat of jail is real to activists who use these tactics – as I learned first hand. But now activists now have a powerful form of defense: necessity.

For the very first time, US climate activists have been able to argue the necessity defense – which argues that so-called criminal acts were committed out of necessity – to a jury. The Delta 5, who blockaded an oil train at the Delta rail yard near Seattle in September of 2014, have been been allowed to use the defense in a historic climate change civil disobedience trial being heard this week. They said they acted to prevent the greater harm of climate change and oil train explosions.

Like all civil disobedience, this new wave of climate disobedience is an inherent critique of the moral authority of government. The necessity defense is an opportunity to elaborate that implicit critique into a fully developed legal argument for the responsibility of citizen action in the face of governmental failure.

In addition to gaining the permission to openly argue the necessity defense, the Delta 5 defendants have so far been winning the crucial legal maneuvers in the courtroom. The trial started with several motions from the prosecution to limit how the defense could present “sympathetic” evidence or anything related to their backgrounds. These motions were denied.

The judge has shown himself to be committed to a fully open trial of all the factors that would drive people to risk their bodies to stop fossil fuel expansion. This kind of openness is distressingly rare for civil disobedience cases in American courts. Why this particular judge, Anthony Howard, is breaking ranks in this climate trial is unknown, but I suspect it may have something to do with the fact that he is young enough that he will still be alive in 2050.

This willingness to weigh deep questions of justice in the courtroom is already paying off with a thought-provoking trial. The jury selection developed into an insightful conversation about civic engagement, protest and how to express one’s disagreement with the government.

This work of arousing consciences is an essential feature of good civil disobedience. Just by participating in the selection process, 60 potential jurors were pushed into a thoughtful discussion about the role of protest and challenging unjust power.

One of the critical dynamics that emerged in the jurors’ discussion on the first day was the difference between protest that uses force to intimidate compared to protest that uses one’s own vulnerability to awaken a community. The Delta 5 clearly fall into the latter category, but the prosecution used references to the Ku Klux Klan and abortion clinic bombers to suggest that the activists were relying on intimidation. This crucial dynamic will probably continue to be developed as the trial progresses.

But even as the state tries to paint the defendants as nefarious, the activists are establishing their moral advantage. The prosecution can tell by the media attention and standing-room-only crowd that these activists have power, but like most government officials, this prosecutor seems to only understand coercive power.

As he tries to put them in a box into which they don’t fit, the principled position of the activists demonstrates the potential of power rooted in love rather than force. The activists bring a vision of justice that shames the mere legalism of the state.

Around the globe climate movements are trying to build power. Some of those are trying to build power based on an old model from a dying empire. Here, in the trial of the Delta 5, the climate movement is building a new kind of power, grounded in interdependency and wielded through vulnerability. Our rapidly evolving and unstable world demands no less.


New War In The Woods?

Camp 'checkpoint' in the Bulkley Valley; Freda Huson

Camp ‘checkpoint’ in the Bulkley Valley; Freda Huson

An escalating conflict in traditional wilderness territory is unfolding in near real time through YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, culminating this week in a July 30 rally in downtown Vancouver.

The powder keg that is the Unist’ot’en camp in the Bulkley Valley of B.C.’s Central Interior is the top issue behind a rally tonight (July 30) CBC Plaza, 700 Hamilton St., 5:30-7:30 p.m.

The event, organized by Rising Tide, will be in support for Unist’ot’en camp’s continued effort to turn away RCMP, security contractors and pipeline employees attempting to enter unceded territory, access necessary to connect oil to tankers on the West Coast near Prince Rupert.

“This event hopes to confront the police violence brought to people all over the world. This is not an isolated issue,” a press release from the Unist’ot’en camp states. “Join us to hear from those who have been to the camp and learn about how powerful life on the land has been.”

Freda Huson, spokesperson for the Unist’ot’en clan of the Wet’suwet’en Nation, has maintained a checkpoint at the bridge into her territory for the last six years.

“I am not demonstrating. I am not protesting,” she is quoted as saying in the Rising Tide call to action. “I am occupying our traditional homelands.”

Activists Say Oka Crisis Sparked Important First Nations Movements

A Mohawk Warrior sits in golf cart and uses binoculars to view approaching Canadian army armoured vehiches on Highway 344 on the Kanesatake Reserve at Oka, Que., September 1, 1990. (Tom Hanson / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

A Mohawk Warrior sits in golf cart and uses binoculars to view approaching Canadian army armoured vehiches on Highway 344 on the Kanesatake Reserve at Oka, Que., September 1, 1990. (Tom Hanson / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

OKA, Que. — It was a crisis that grabbed international headlines, with armed Mohawks and Canadian soldiers involved in a lengthy standoff that often appeared on the verge of exploding into full-blown combat.

Twenty-five years on, the legacy of the Oka Crisis for many of those who experienced the tension west of Montreal is a greater awareness of native issues.

Native activists, artists and professors say while it’s difficult to draw direct links, the Oka uprising in 1990 inspired First Nations movements across the country such as the Idle No More protests in 2012 and the ever-increasing calls for a federal inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.

University of Ottawa professor Marcelo Saavedra-Vargas, who specializes in the studies of indigenous peoples, called the Oka Crisis “an awakening” heard around the world.

“I can tell you — from my own experience — that the indigenous social movements in Bolivia, which ended up bringing an indigenous person to the presidency, were also inspired by the Oka events,” he said in an interview.

Saavedra-Vargas added that at powwows and other celebrations around the continent, “you can always meet Mohawk Warriors talking about how they are proud of what happened. They keep the memory alive.”

When the town of Oka decided in 1990 it was going to allow the expansion of a golf course on disputed territory — including on a Mohawk burial ground — people living in the neighbouring Mohawk community of Kanesatake rose up in defiance.

In response to the council’s decision, Mohawks barricaded a dirt road leading to the golf course.

After they refused to obey a court injunction to stand down, a shootout ensued with provincial police officers and resulted in the death of Cpl. Marcel Lemay on July 11.

Where the bullet came from remains a mystery.

The Quebec government called in the Canadian Forces and roughly 800 members of the Royal 22e Regiment encircled the Mohawks in the pines with barbed wire.

“(Premier Robert Bourassa) called us into his office the day after (the shooting) and told us — he made it clear, he didn’t want any more death,” Sam Elkas, who was Quebec public security minister at the time, said in an interview.

Mohawk Warrior known as Noreiga clutches a Mohawk woman as he is taken into costody Sept. 26, 1990 by Canadian soldiers during the surrender at the Kanasehtake Reserve at Oka. (Bill Grimshaw / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Mohawk Warrior known as Noreiga clutches a Mohawk woman as he is taken into costody Sept. 26, 1990 by Canadian soldiers during the surrender at the Kanasehtake Reserve at Oka. (Bill Grimshaw / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

After 78 days of negotiations, both sides struck a deal: the barricades made of dirt and mangled police vehicles were to come down in return for the cancellation of the golf course expansion.

The disputed territory remains an unsettled issue, however, and was never officially ceded by the Mohawks or handed over to the native community by federal or provincial governments.

“You reach a point after a while where you have to make a stand,” Kanesatake resident Linda Simon, who experienced the violence, said in an interview.

“The common lands had slowly been given away and sold and there came a point where people weren’t going to take it anymore.”

The 1990 events led to the Royal Commission of Aboriginal Peoples, which helped usher in new agreements between natives and non-natives such as the resource-sharing deal in 2002 called the Paix des Braves (Peace of the Braves) between the Quebec government and the Grand Council of the Crees.

Alanis Obomsawin, an award-winning filmmaker who made a much-praised documentary about the conflict called “Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance,” said the events of 1990 inspired native people across the country and raised awareness among Canadians regarding land claims.

“When I go out West, (indigenous) people tell me, ‘Alanis, we could never thank the Mohawks enough for what they did.”‘

Back home, Quebec Aboriginal Affairs Minister Geoffrey Kelley said provincial and federal governments have appreciated since Oka that First Nations groups need to be consulted when development projects affect their territory.

“Back then I think we would have acted more unilaterally,” he said.

Kelley mentioned provincial funding for the Kateri Memorial hospital on the Kahnawake reserve south of Montreal — which he said required several bureaucratic hurdles to overcome such as modifications to labour laws — as an example of a change in government attitude toward native people.

“It’s a small example but a good one to show how we are adapting our institutions with native realities and I think they will bring great benefits in the future,” he said.

But while native people have received more respect from non-native governments since Oka, there are many outstanding land claims across the country, and some Canadians still harbour prejudices against Aboriginal Peoples, Kelley said.

Tom Siddon, federal minister of Indian affairs and northern development at the time under Brian Mulroney, said he believes Oka played a key role in improving the thorny issue of land claims.

“I think we were able to make some major progress and I do believe that Oka was an important turning point in our natural history,” he said in an interview.

Kanesatake Grand Chief Serge Simon

Kanesatake Grand Chief Serge Simon stands in the Pines Thursday, June 18, 2015 in Kanesatake, Que., (Ryan Remiorz / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The current grand chief in Kanesatake says that while the Mohawk Warriors might have inspired people around the world, the aftermath of the crisis led to the “social disintegration of the community.”

Serge Simon said it has taken a generation for people to overcome the trauma of the crisis and band council politics have only recently started to calm down after years of tension and sometimes violence between community members.

Simon said the 25th anniversary of the crisis has forced difficult memories to the surface including what he called human-rights abuses he alleges his people suffered at the hands of the provincial police.

“(The provincial police) took my cousin Angus Jacob and brought him to the back of a barn and handcuffed him to a metal chair,” he said in an interview.

“They pulled his pants down and they started electrocuting his testicles to get him to talk.”

He said events like Oka can happen again in Canada but it’s critical that natives and non-natives continue to talk to one another.

“Oka is what happens when dialogue stops,” he said.

By Giuseppe Valiante and Peter Rakobowchuk, The Canadian Press