Two anti-pipeline protesters who were arrested after police forced their way into a camper on Burnaby Mountain Wednesday evening are facing obstruction charges.
The RCMP said the First Nations women locked themselves inside while officers were trying to execute a warrant at the camper, which is parked at the protest site across the street from Kinder Morgan’s TransMountain pipeline terminal.
Videos captured by activists depict a chaotic scene, with onlookers screaming as a large group of Mounties surround the camper and use a battering ram to break open the door. Mounties used a portable battering ram to enter a camping trailer and arrest two elderly First Nations women at a protest camp on Burnaby Mountain. (Michael Ages) “She’s a matriarch! She’s a mother! Do not put your hands on women!” someone can be heard yelling in one clip.
On Thursday, Supt. Chuck McDonald said the Burnaby RCMP detachment respects people’s right to peaceful demonstration, and that officers did their best to ensure protesters’ safety during the arrests.
“I thought things went very smoothly last night,” McDonald said. “I’ve seen the videos, they look chaotic but … it’s the way the video was taken as opposed to depicting what actually occurred.”
But protesters said there was little time spent trying to coax the women out before police brought out the battering ram.
"They were knocking on the door – probably took about 30 seconds and then decided to go full force," Uni Urchin said. “They smashed the glass, removed the door and created this damage in front of youth and elders.”
Witnesses told CTV News they were horrified at the level of force used to make the arrests.
"I had my three children with me so I was terrified I was going to get arrested in front of them, or that they were going to get arrested," Megan Bryden, who lives nearby and sometimes joins protesters at the camp, told CTV News Wednesday night. "It was the first time in my life I’ve ever been terrified of the police."
The RCMP’s warrant, which allowed officers a 90-minute window to make the arrests, was for one man and one woman who allegedly prevented the removal of the camper on Tuesday.
McDonald said he believes the women taken into custody on Wednesday were the intended subjects of the warrant.
"The warrant was based on the information we had at the time and from what we understand right now, they are the correct people," he said.
Back in 2014, dozens of people were arrested at Kinder Morgan survey sites higher up the mountain for violating a court injunction ordering them to stay away.
No such injunction has been granted for the current site, which has been occupied for several weeks, and protesters have vowed to remain even if they face more arrests.
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