Judge Rebukes Mounties’ Handling of Fairy Creek Logging Protest

This week, the Supreme Court of British Columbia refused to increase an injunction in opposition to outdated progress forest protests in and round Fairy Creek on Vancouver Island. But the rejection had nothing to do with logging or the actions of the protesters.

Instead, Justice Douglas W. Thompson turned down the logging firm’s request due to how the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have behaved whereas implementing the injunction, providing a stinging rebuke of the nationwide police pressure.

“I have never heard of anything like it,” Kent Roach, a legislation professor on the University of Toronto, advised me in an e-mail. “I am not aware of any case where police misconduct has been cited as a reason to stop such an injunction.”

While Justice Thompson discovered that the logging firm that was trying to have the injunction prolonged was struggling “irreparable harm” from the protests, he wrote that the actions of the Mounties in implementing it “have led to serious and substantial infringement of civil liberties.”

The mounted police didn’t instantly remark. The workplace of Bill Blair, the general public security minister, declined to remark.

Fairy Creek turned a middle of protests after the New Democratic Party of Premier John Horgan, within the view of the protesters, backtracked on a promise he made to guard outdated progress forests throughout final yr’s provincial election.

While outdated progress logging was suspended in some areas of the province, it was continued in and round Fairy Creek till June by the lumber firm Teal-Jones. The firm was logging in partnership with the three First Nations whose territories embrace the Fairy Creek forests.

The Mounties got here to the protests in massive numbers and arrests started rising after the logging firm, which declared this week that “it is a myth that old growth in the area is at risk,” was given an injunction in April in opposition to efforts by protesters to cease its work.

In his choice, Justice Thompson described some actions by protesters, like digging deep trenches in roads or dangling from wood tripods as much as 30 ft excessive, as “examples of the escalation in illegality.” But he additionally concluded they weren’t the norm.

“The videos and other evidence show them to be disciplined and patient adherents to standards of nonviolent disobedience,” he wrote. “There have only been occasional lapses from that standard.”

By distinction, Justice Thompson discovered that the Mounties repeatedly eroded “the court’s reputational capital” as they went about implementing the injunction.

In specific, he strongly criticized the Mounties’ management for ordering officers to take away their names and all different identification from their uniforms. The police advised the choose it was a essential transfer to spare them and their households from potential on-line harassment.

Noting that anonymity makes it successfully inconceivable for residents to efficiently file complaints about police misconduct, Justice Thomson wrote that the transfer was inappropriate for anybody ready of authority, together with judges.

“We identify ourselves,” he wrote. “Accountability requires it.”

As of Sept. 24, the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the R.C.M.P. has acquired 230 complaints about police actions at Fairy Creek. It is investigating 93 of them.

Most of the officers on the protest additionally wore “thin blue line” patches on their uniforms regardless of a nationwide directive banning the apply. Justice Thompson stated that an Indigenous girl stated in an affidavit that folks in her group noticed the patches, which normally overlay the road on a Canadian flag, as “symbolic of the history of R.C.M.P. involvement in enforcing policies that brought about the genocide of Indigenous peoples.” In the United States, related patches and flags have developed from being an emblem of help for police into an emblem of opposition to the Black Lives Matter motion.

Justice Thompson additionally discovered that regardless of an earlier court docket directive, the police continued to intrude with journalists reporting on the protests.

The choice of Justice Thompson is just not the primary rebuke of the Mounties in recent times, together with the pressure’s dealing with of different protests. And Robert Gordon, a professor of criminology at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, stated it’s unlikely to be the final. Nor is he assured that the embarrassment it brings to the pressure will result in any vital change.

“For almost 20 years ago, there’s been a series of incidents and reports and boxes full of recommendations about changing the R.C.M.P.,” Professor Gordon, who was a police officer in Britain, advised me. “The bottom line is that the R.C.M.P. sees itself as the last word in policing in Canada, and is reluctant and highly resistant to engage in any kind of change other than superficial band-aiding.”


A local of Windsor, Ontario, Ian Austen was educated in Toronto, lives in Ottawa and has reported about Canada for The New York Times for the previous 16 years. Follow him on Twitter at @ianrausten.


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