Mounties face online harassment from 'globally well-funded' Fairy Creek protesters, police union says

As the Fairy Creek blockade on southern Vancouver Island becomes the largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history in terms of arrests, the national RCMP union says police have the support of the public.

On Thursday, the National Police Federation, which represents RCMP officers, released a survey it commissioned about the ongoing old-growth logging protests in the Fairy Creek watershed.

Since May, protesters have been arrested as they block logging company Teal Jones from a small old-growth cut block. A BC Supreme Court injunction has made it illegal for anyone to block industry in the area.

The survey by Pollara Strategic Insights found that 82 per cent of British Columbians agree the RCMP has a duty to enforce court injunctions.

It also showed those polled strongly believe protest is an important part of democracy.

“Our members have maintained their professionalism and composure against a steadily increasing barrage of verbal taunts; racial slurs; engineered physical barriers; human chains and bindings that threaten the health and safety of everyone in the area,” said Brian Sauvé, president of the National Police Federation, in a press release.

The union also says officers at the protest have faced online stalking and harassment from Fairy Creek activists and supporters.

“The protesters are extremely and globally well-funded, many of whom are highly experienced in media manipulation and propaganda, and they have demonstrated that they are increasingly desperate to intimidate our officers and mislead the public in their ongoing campaign against both the licensed forester and the Pacheedaht and Ditidaht First Nations upon whose traditional territory they are imposing,” said Sauvé.

CTV News reached out to the Rainforest Flying Squad, which represents old-growth logging activists and Indigenous land defenders at the remote blockade.

Noah Ross, a lawyer working with the group, says the survey indicates the RCMP is “trying to engage in a battle of public opinion” rather than simply enforcing the law.

“They feel like they’re losing the battle of public opinion and the reason they’re losing that is they’re going beyond their duty, which is to enforce the law, and they’re specifically trying to defeat the movement, which isn’t their job,” Ross said. 

Protesters have said for weeks that the RCMP are escalating their tactics and putting activists in serious danger. Dozens of complaints have been sent to the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP.

Twenty-one per cent of survey respondents agreed with the statement: “The RCMP are overreacting to the protesters and need to be held accountable.”

CTV News asked the provincial government for its response to the survey.

"We respect people’s rights to protest peacefully in the Fairy Creek watershed," the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General said. "Enforcement action by the RCMP in response to the court decision is an operational matter for the RCMP and is entirely at arms length from government."