Fairy Creek Protesters Warn of Dangerous Police Tactics

The use of heavy equipment to dislodge blockaders creates unacceptable risks, says lawyer for group.

Police employ an excavator to extract a protester chained to a log at an anti-old-growth logging camp outside Port Renfrew on June 22. Photo by Jen Osborne.

Protesters blocking logging activity on southern Vancouver Island are complaining that dangerous tactics are being used to remove them, including the unsafe use of heavy equipment.

But a spokesperson for the RCMP says people have been putting themselves into increasingly risky positions and that the police and excavator operators take precautions to make removals as safe as possible.

Noah Ross, a lawyer acting for the Rainforest Flying Squad, the group co-ordinating the Fairy Creek blockades, said there’s a high risk of injury when the machines are used close to people who have locked themselves in place and can’t move away.

“These machines are very powerful and difficult to move with precision, so my understanding is typically they are kept away from human bodies,” he said. “That seems dangerous to me.”

People blocking old-growth logging and road building have been using a variety of devices to make themselves difficult to remove. One frequently used method involves using a chain to lock an arm into a “sleeping dragon,” a length of PVC pipe set in concrete in a hole dug into a logging road.

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When the RCMP began enforcing the BC Supreme Court injunction against blocking logging and roadbuilding in Tree Farm Licence 46 — which includes the Fairy Creek watershed and where the Teal-Jones Group is the licence holder — they used jackhammers and hand tools to remove people from the devices.

Around June 7, the police brought in excavators in what blockaders believe is an effort to make the job quicker that also makes it more dangerous.

In a recent press release, the Rainforest Flying Squad described an excavator bucket working “just inches from a young woman’s head as she lay on the ground beneath it.”


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