THE RCMP announced on Monday that they attended the Morice River Bridge in Houston, BC, to enforce the interim injunction order granted by the Supreme Court of British Columbia.
Just prior to 11 a.m., police officers from the Division Liaison Team spoke with representatives of the Gitdumt’en camp about the removal of a road block that they had set up along the Morice West Forest Service Road, several kilometres away from the Morice River Bridge but within the court ordered injunction. The RCMP said they also facilitated a meeting between hereditary chiefs and CGL in the hopes that this could be resolved without police involvement. When it was determined that the matter could not be resolved, at 3 p.m. the RCMP proceeded to enter the blockade in order to facilitate open access to the service road.
(TransCanada PipeLines Ltd.’s Coastal GasLink pipeline is to deliver natural gas from Dawson Creek to a facility near Kitimat.)
As of 6:45 p.m., there were 14 persons who had been arrested from the blockade set up by Gitdumt’en on Morice West Forest Service Road for various offences, including alleged violations of the injunction order. All those arrested continue to be processed at this time. During the arrests, the RCMP said they observed a number of fires being lit along the roadway by unknown persons, and large trees felled across the roadway.
As with other injunction orders and police enforcement clauses, the RCMP noted that they are given discretion to decide how and when to enforce the order.
The primary focus for the police is the safety of everyone involved – protesters, police , area residents, motorists, media and general public. This was done by creating a temporary exclusion zone, which under civil injunctions are similar to criminal search warrants, where the police do not allow access to anyone w ho is not part of the enforcement team. There are both privacy and safety concerns in keeping the public and the media at the perimeter, which should be as small as possible and as brief as possible in the circumstances, based on security and safety needs. The temporary exclusion zone remains in place and will be consistently re-assessed, the RCMP said.
The RCMP said they respect the Indigenous rights and titles in BC and across Canada. It was inappropriate for them to make any reference to the materials provided to the court during the injunction application process, the RCMP added. “Our role is to enforce the injunction and not to interfere with any ongoing discussion between our Indigenous communities and any other level of government. The language has been removed from the revised backgrounder,” they said.
The RCMP said that there are also erroneous reports that the RCMP jammed communications in the area, preventing the media and public from providing information
about the unfolding situation, and that the Canadian Military were present during the police enforcement operation. “We would like to clarify that both of these allegations are incorrect. The area is extremely remote and even police had limited access to communication. Police officers, including members of Tactical and Emergency Response
Teams, have been deployed as part of our measured and scalable approach to enforcing the court ordered injunction,” they said.