Unidentified coal mine protesters leave mess in Courtenay
An unidentified group of young people caused a few thousand dollars worth of damage in Courtenay Monday during an apparent protest of the Raven underground coal mine.
Around noon, Comox Valley RCMP said group members had glued and posted numerous signs and posters on private and public property throughout the downtown core, and as far south as 26th Street.
Although the signs referenced the proposed Raven project, CoalWatch Comox Valley president John Snyder was not even aware of Monday's activity, let alone the vandalism that coincided with what police describe as "a boisterous protest in front of the Bank of Montreal at 585 England Ave."
"None of our board members were involved, I can assure you that," Snyder said.
Some of the group members' faces were concealed by bandanas. RCMP said they were banging on windows and doors at the bank, and yelling at staff and police. Some blocked traffic while others climbed onto the roof of the bank and hung a banner which proclaimed: BMO Supports Coal. Stop the Mine!
Police said some bank employees and members of the public were frightened by the behaviour displayed. Most group members fled when police arrived.
"It wouldn't be unusual to be frightened by that type of a protest," BMO spokesperson Laurie Grant said. "You would feel as if your safety and security were being threatened. That would be a normal response...It is unfortunate that, whoever these protest groups are, that they would take these kinds of actions and damage property and threaten the sense of security that employees and customers would want to have in a business."
The bank is located near the lawn of the courthouse where a separate crowd had garnered media attention during the first day of trial stemming from last year's death of James Denton.
According to police, removing the signs and posters will cost city taxpayers between $2,000 and $5,000, depending on the extent of damage to underlying surfaces.
RCMP is requesting assistance to identify the vandals. Anyone with information is asked to call the local detachment at 250-338-1321 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).