Police arrest pipeline opponents on Burnaby Mountain

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It was a tense Thursday morning on Burnaby Mountain, as RCMP arrested at least a dozen anti-pipeline protesters.

Police cordoned off sections of Centennial Way, where protesters set up a barricaded camp, and anyone caught inside the yellow tape was subject to arrest.

The people were arrested for defying a B.C. Supreme Court injunction banning the protesters from interfering with Kinder Morgan’s survey work for a new pipeline route. Some have been released already.

“It’s a very emotional event, and I respect the people who have decided to commit civil disobedience,” said Alan Dutton from Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion. Dutton was also one of the five protesters named in the court injunction. “We’ve advised people to respect the law and allow the court process to continue to see what the resolution will be.”

Dutton said it will be difficult for police to clear the area as more people convene on the mountain.

“There are a lot of people coming into this area, and the longer it takes, the more people are going to be here and the more peaceful it will become because there are more people to witness what’s going on,” Dutton said. “I anticipate this is going to continue, and this is going to be a long, long struggle.”

Burnaby resident Ruth Walmsley slept in the park overnight and was on the scene when a large number of police officers showed up and read the injunction to those in the camp area.

“A number of protesters locked arms and refused to get off of the premises,” she told the NOW.

Police were also dealing with protesters at a clearing in the woods at another spot where Kinder Morgan needs to drill for soil samples. Vancouver resident Adam Bognar was one of three people who camped overnight in the clearing, which is about a five-minute hike from Centennial Way

“There have been no arrests made yet (in the woods),” he told the NOW.

Police arrived as Bognar and two others were waking up, still in their sleeping bags.

“They came in, in a line, and set up a perimeter and made us move outside of it to not be arrested,” Bognar said. “They said this is in the injunction perimeter, … since then it’s grown three times that size, and it’s just been on whim.”

At press time, Bognar was outside the cordoned-off area, documenting the scene. He also reported that one man chained his neck to a tree, about 25 feet from the ground, and two police officers were up the tree with bolt cutters trying to remove him. The RCMP’s aerial extraction team removed him and arrested him.

One of the more intense and emotional moments was when Clarrisa Antone from the Squamish Indian Band arrived on the scene singing and drumming. As the crowd began to sing along with her, she marched right under the yellow police tape into the protesters’ camp as RCMP looked on. By press time Thursday, only Antone and another indigenous woman were allowed to stay inside the camp, where a “sacred” fire is burning.

There’s been a call out for more protesters to convene on the mountain, and many more arrived Thursday morning, as word spread of the arrests. People from the Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish First Nations were reportedly on their way at press time, although this is not confirmed.

Burnaby RCMP Staff Sgt.-Major John Buis said there were 14 arrests, but the number is fluid, because some protesters are being released if they agree to appear in court and not return to the protest site. Seven have been released.

“We will secure the site,” he told the NOW.

As for the remaining women inside the camp, Buis said RCMP were working on that.

Kinder Morgan released a media statement Thursday, saying crews were back on the mountain, clearing the work sites.

“As of 12:45 p.m., Trans Mountain staff and contractors have arrived at Burnaby Mountain to begin preparing the work sites for our geotechnical field studies. Trans Mountain is pleased that the majority of the individuals occupying the area complied with the order and continue to exercise their rights to express their views in a respectful manner, while allowing our team to begin the work safely. Our crews will be respectfully relocating any items that are in the designated work area. It will be secured and handed over to RCMP.”

© Burnaby Now