Ongoing protests against the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline resulted in more arrests July 26 and the swarming of a police vehicle on the Morice River Forest Service Road near Houston.
Approximately 30 people, some using their own vehicles, blocked the police vehicle from moving until reinforcements from RCMP detachments in Houston, Smithers and Burns Lake arrived, indicates an RCMP press release.
Officers arrested one person and placed him in the police vehicle after stopping a car. According to the RCMP, the same car was also involved in several complaints from the previous week.
The man’s arrest led to a group from a nearby camp swarming the police vehicle.
“While interacting with the occupants of the vehicle and attempting to obtain information from the driver, a male passenger began and continued to blast an air horn towards the officers in an effort to prevent the investigation. The man was subsequently arrested for mischief and obstruction,” the release stated.
That’s when people from the camp surrounded the police vehicle, the Mounties said.
“Several individuals climbed onto the police car, some rocked it and one person kicked at the car, while others attempted to assist the man to escape,” the release stated.
But when the arrested man was taken to the Houston RCMP detachment and processed and released, RCMP said people from the camp also arrived at the detachment.
“Officers recognized one woman who participated in surrounding the police vehicle on the forestry road to be the person who consistently banged on a drum directly into the ear of a police officer. She was also thought to have been responsible for kicking at the police car, causing damage,” the release stated.
“The woman was arrested for mischief (for damaging the police vehicle) and assault a police officer (for banging a drum near an officer’s head).”
RCMP then determined the woman arrested was not the same woman who was thought to have kicked the police vehicle and are now trying to find that person.
The man first arrested and the woman arrested at the detachment are due in court Oct. 24. The woman is not to be within five metres of a police vehicle and not to to use any noise-making device that can cause harm within 10 metres of a police officer.
The chief superintendent of the RCMP’s specialized squad sent to areas of natural resource use conflict said officers “displayed excellence in de-escalating a serious situation after being surrounded by a disorderly crowd.”
“Violence is criminal and we will take action against anyone participating in these unlawful practices,” said Chief Superintendent John Brewer of the RCMP’s Community-Industry Response Group.
The pipeline section south of Houston has become a consistent flashpoint of ongoing protests and arrests of members of a Wet’suwet’en clan and supporters opposing the construction of the pipeline which will carry natural gas from northeastern B.C. to the LNG Canada facility under construction at Kitimat.
The latest arrests came two days before Coastal GasLink announced it would not pursue civil contempt charges against six people arrested at a protest camp last November.
RCMP officers have been patrolling the area before and since the company obtained a Supreme Court injunction and enforcement order prohibiting interference with the pipeline’s construction.
Meanwhile, Coastal GasLink says the 670km pipeline is nearly 70 per cent complete with a finishing date set toward the end of next year.
But it also says the construction cost has now virtually doubled, from a once-projected $6.6 billion to $11.2 billion.
TC Energy, the majority owner of the pipeline, made the announcement saying it had resolved a cost overrun dispute with LNG Canada.