The day started with a prayer and ended in arrests.
Action against the Trans Mountain pipeline escalated Saturday afternoon when Burnaby RCMP arrested 28 people for violating the injunction granted in favour of Trans Mountain earlier this week. Those arrested were processed and released on the promise to appear in court. The B.C. Supreme Court ruling prohibits protesters from setting up blockades or interfering with work at the terminal.
The 28 protesters staged a sit-in blocking the entrance to the Trans Mountain pipeline’s terminal in Burnaby at around 10:45 a.m inside the five-metre zone from the entrance covered by the injunction. The federally-approved expansion doubles the existing pipeline by building 980 kilometres of new pipeline, and will transport 890,000 barrels of diluted bitumen a day from Alberta to B.C.
“Put ‘em on,” said a woman known as Kat, extending her wrists to police, gesturing that they should put her in handcuffs.
Officers had asked her – as they did for the other protesters – if she wanted to stay and be arrested, or leave.
“Let me think about it,” she had said, chewing the cookie handed to her moments before by one of the volunteers bringing snacks, sunscreen and other supplies to the protesters throughout the day. Looking over the fence toward the tank farms, she said she saw an eagle flying in a circle in the sky, and that gave her the answer: she would be arrested. But first, she took a moment to drink her coffee.
She carried flags attached to wooden poles with her, escorted by police to the mobile processing station set up about 50 metres from the gate.
Still here for @BurnabyNOW_News. 28 or so people still sitting directly in front of the gate. Another 20 or so are behind the injunction line with banners. #KinderMorgan #TransMountain pic.twitter.com/fUCzOVh2Pz— 𝙇𝙖𝙪𝙧𝙚𝙣 𝘽𝙤𝙤𝙩𝙝𝙗𝙮 (@laurby) March 17, 2018
Emma Campbell was arrested Saturday alongside her parents Charlie Campbell and Gillian Johnstone. Emma said she was there to support Indigenous peoples’ rights to their land, and because she is concerned about how climate change will affect her son.
“I’m a parent of a two-year-old,” she said. “I’m worried about his future and the future of all children.”
Clayton Thomas-Müller, of the Pukatawagan Cree Nation from northern Manitoba, led the march toward the tank farm Saturday morning, singing and hitting a drum. He is from environmental activist group 350, and one of the protesters who attached his wrist to the gate with a zip tie and was later arrested. He came to support the local opposition to the pipeline, Indigenous people’s opposition to the tar sands in Alberta, and is concerned about the effect the expansion will have on the environment.
“I have a responsibility to my kids, to make sure that their hunting grounds, their fishing grounds are protected,” he said. “Water knows no border. Climate knows no border.”
Some 60 people gathered in the gravel fields near Forest Grove park Saturday morning around 10 a.m. to prepare for a demonstration at the Trans Mountain terminal in protest of Kinder Morgan’s pipeline expansion. Protesters walked up from the fields and stopped at the watch house to sing and pray before moving toward the tank farm. That building was constructed on the pipeline path last week during a protest where more than 5,000 people marched in opposition to the expansion.
Burnaby RCMP arrived before 11 a.m. Saturday, but did not intervene until around just after 2:30 p.m. after 12 protesters had attached their wrists to the fence with zip ties.
An officer approached the gate and began reading the injunction aloud to those blocking the entrance, but his voice was overtaken by the sound of the protesters singing. They handed out copies of the injunction to all those blocking the entrance before they began making arrests around 15 minutes later.
Cpl. Daneila Panesar, spokesperson for the Burnaby RCMP, said protesters were arrested for violating the court injunction, but charges were not criminal. She said initially there had been no complaint made from Kinder Morgan, and so they did not intervene earlier. The injunction prohibits obstructing, impeding or preventing access to the terminal.
“That didn’t happen until when they started wrap-strapping themselves. At that point, as the police of jurisdiction, we are legally bound to enforce the injunction, so that’s why Burnaby RCMP made the arrests that they did,” she said.
Kinder Morgan said in an emailed statement that the police were notified because the blockade was a safety concern for their employees.
“We respect the right to peacefully protest and there are many ways to express opinions in a safe and lawful manner,” reads the statement. “The RCMP were notified when several individuals attached themselves to the gate of Burnaby Terminal, blocking emergency access to our facilities and employees onsite in contravention of a court order.”
Those arrested who re-enter the injunction zone risk being re-arrested. They are due to appear in court June 6.
Protests are expected to continue over the next week.