RCMP clearing new logging protest encampment near Fairy Creek, B.C.
Police say they arrested five people as they worked to clear a protest camp on Vancouver Island that's blocking access to a forestry operation in the Fairy Creek Watershed area Wednesday.
The camp, which protesters have called Sassin Camp, is located near the intersection of Haddon Main and Carrmanah Mainline forest service roads near Lake Cowichan, where a previous blockade had been created, according to RCMP.
Police said four of the five people arrested would be held in custody overnight before attending bail hearings on Thursday. Two of the people being held are repeat offenders, police said, adding that the other two are being held because they refused to identify themselves to officers.
Representatives of three local First Nations who are impacted by the blockade have been attempting to remove the group peacefully since the beginning of June.
On June 23, leaders from the Ditidaht, Huu-ay-aht and Pacheedaht First Nations asked the group to leave and dismantle the camp, which is located on Ditidaht Traditional Territory.
The coalition says that the request for protesters to leave comes from both the elected and hereditary chiefs of the Ditidaht First Nation, with support from the elected and hereditary leaders of the Huu-ay-aht and Pacheedaht First Nations.
On Tuesday, the Sassin Camp group said it plans to remain at the encampment and is "preparing for an assault" by RCMP.
Protesters say they were invited to the territory by "Ditidaht elders and community members," though the nation's leadership maintains they are not welcome.
"The governing structure of Ditidaht consists of the heredity chief and band council, and neither one of them invited the group," said Robert J. Dennis Sr., elected Chief Councillor for Huu-ay-aht First Nations on Thursday.
Sassin Camp says it's unaffiliated with other protest groups, including Save Old Growth and the Rainforest Flying Squad.
RCMP began sending in officers at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday to "clear the road of obstructions and arrest anyone in violation of the injunction" that was granted to Teal-Cedar Products Ltd. by the B.C. courts to continue its logging operation in the area.
"Officers worked on dismantling the structures of the blockade after taking individuals into police custody," the RCMP said in a news release Wednesday evening.
"There was a large amount of garbage and debris located within the encampment, and some flammable (gasoline) or dangerous materials that required proper and safe disposal," Mounties added. "The Ministry of Forests has been engaged and is making arrangements to remove the piles of debris tomorrow."