Dramatic arrest of Kinder Morgan protesters met with defiance and pride (VIDEOS)
"I am really proud of each and every one of the people who stood up.... Civil disobedience is the last straw in our political system, when we're facing unjust laws" - Dr. Lynne Quarmby
Thursday was the most dramatic day in a months-long battle between citizens and Texas-based Kinder Morgan over the company's controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.
In a rapid sweep, RCMP arrested as many as two dozen Kinder Morgan protesters on Burnaby Mountain, stirring strong emotions among opponents to the Edmonton-to-Burnaby pipeline.
The arrests were for “civil contempt” of a court order permitting the company's pipeline survey work. The first wave of arrests took protesters by surprise around 8:30am.
The RCMP stormed in with their vehicles, netting Erin Flegg and five others. No one had much time to react, according to protester accounts. Their wrists were bound with plastic cuffs, and they were shoved into a police van into separate compartments.
They could still see and talk to each other for support, said Flegg.
“The personal vibe inside the van – everyone was there because they knew what they were getting into, and they believed in it.”
“So people were fairly relaxed and happy to be with each other,” said Flegg.
As the van drove away, Flegg said supporters outside yelled, “Stay strong! We love you! You’re awesome!” She was eventually released without charge.
A man bound with plastic hand cuffs was arrested on Burnaby Mountain on Thursday morning around 10am. Photo by Mychaylo Prystupa.
By 10am, the second wave of arrests struck. Another half dozen were detained including Brigette DePape and two others photographed by the Vancouver Observer.
DePape smiled broadly as she was hand cuffed and directed into a police van, shouting to the array of TV cameras and photographers. Before the doors were closed on her, police let her shout her statement:
“This pipeline goes against the will of the people! And we are here to defend [against] and undemocratic pipeline!” yelled DePape.
“It will take all of us to stop this pipeline! But we can do this, and we can transition to a clean and just future for all people, for my generation and all generations as well!”
DePape is a Vancouver activist known for her 2011 stunt in Ottawa, where she silently held up a “Stop Harper” sign in Parliament.
Also arrested were activists Adam Gold and Kaleb Morrison.
SFU professor Lynne Quarmby speaks to media about RCMP arrest of Kinder Morgan protesters on Thursday. Photo by Mychaylo Prystupa.
Proud of those arrested: SFU professor
SFU biochemistry professor Lynne Quarmby is being sued by Kinder Morgan for speaking out against the pipeline. She told media:
"I am really proud of each and every one of the people who stood up. I think they are the leaders of our society right now. Their willingness to take that stand. Civil disobedience is the last straw in our political system, when we're facing unjust laws and an unjust situation."
"We know that the Tar Sands cannot expand. The arguments that this is some sort of economic necessity are bogus," said Quarmby.
No Kinder Morgan spokespeople have been present on the mountain since the conflict heated up in September, but it said Thursday in a statement:
"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."