A gang of seniors marched on logging roads in Fairy Creek on Tuesday (May 25) and said they completely overwhelmed the few RCMP officers who were there holding an exclusion zone.
Saul Arbess, 82, said when the officers saw more than 100 seniors marching up the road, they just rolled up their police tape that marks the exclusion zone at Road 2000 and left.
“We made quite an impression,” Arbess said.
Road 2000 is between the Fairy Creek blockade headquarters and a newer camp called Waterfall, which Arbess calls the last two outposts before any vehicles can enter the Fairy Creek watershed, where the whole thing started last August. That was when a group of people, Arbess included, started a blockade on the logging roads to stop Teal-Jones from logging in the Fairy Creek watershed.
That protest has since grown to include at least five blockades, the two major ones being Fairy Creek and Caycuse over near Lake Cowichan. Teal-Jones asked the court for an injunction that would remove the protesters, which was granted April 1. On May 17, the RCMP began to enforce it.
The exclusion zones, he said, are not in the injunctions and Arbess and others think they’re illegal.
“Of course, the whole object here was to get the government to respond, to get Premier (John) Horgan to respond. We cannot understand why he hasn’t responded.”
The seniors hiked on to Waterfall camp up a steep hill, taking by surprise the three protesters who were locked down in what Arbess called very uncomfortable positions. They gave encouragement and moral support to the young people who have been holding the line with their bodies.
Alison Acker, 92, was there on Tuesday, as she had been in Clayoquot Sound during the famed War in the Woods in the early 1990s. She was arrested there and was prepared to be arrested now.
“I’m not seeking arrest unless it’s necessary, but it’s one of the few ways you can get your voice heard. As an old person, there are many things I can’t do, but I can walk up a hill and sit on my bottom,” Acker said.
There are reports of arrests at another location on the west side, but the RCMP has not yet confirmed those. Across the forests at the Caycuse camp, a record number of people were arrested, possibly bringing the total number arrested since May 17 to 100. RCMP did not confirm the number of arrests from May 25.
The protest does not seem to show signs of slowing down.
“This is our great disappointment. People don’t risk arrest and so forth without a strong purpose,” Arbess said. “The idea of direct action like this is to let society pause, to allow a reconsideration. And that’s just not happening.”
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