The RCMP are encouraging pipeline protesters to leave the area of the Morice West Forest Service Road to avoid being arrested, as police prepare to enforce a court order granting Coastal GasLink access to their worksite near Houston.
At a news conference in Surrey Wednesday afternoon, Assistant Commissioner Eric Stubbs, Criminal Operations Officer in charge of Core Policing for the BC RCMP, outlined three levels of arrests to be used if necessary – the first being voluntary, peaceful arrest with no handcuffs. For those who refuse to move, he said they would be carried off with minimal force.
“If the above scenarios do not occur, our members will respond to the behaviours that are presented before them,” Stubbs said. “They are instructed to use at least the least amount of force that is reasonable to safely arrest a protester.”
He also addressed last year’s enforcement of a temporary injunction in which 14 people were arrested at the pipeline site, saying the RCMP learned much from the event and a subsequent review.
He said all of the members deployed to the area this time received cultural awareness training last weekend, and will record the event with body cameras, handheld cameras and aerial cameras.
He noted the review indicated members did not punch or kick any protesters nor use weapons of any kind.
Finally, he commended all parties for attempting to work out a solution, but that orders from the B.C. Supreme Court are not optional.
He did not say when the enforcement action would begin.
“Again, I want to encourage continued dialogue with the RCMP, so all the people who are breaching the injuncti0n can be arrested safely with no use of force necessary.”
The Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who oppose the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline had not commented immediately after the news conference.