Observers raise concerns about RCMP tactical unit used in B.C. pipeline arrests

The use of heavily armed RCMP officers to enforce a court injunction and breach an Indigenous blockade along a remote northern British Columbia logging road Monday was unnecessary given the circumstances, an expert says.

Kevin Walby, an associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Winnipeg, said social media video that has emerged shows no escalation of violence from protesters that would have necessitated the substantial intervention.

Fourteen people were taken into custody Monday at a blockade southwest of Houston, B.C., where members of the Gidimt’en clan of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation had set up a camp to control access to a pipeline project across their territory.

TransCanada subsidiary Coastal GasLink had obtained an injunction from the Supreme Court of British Columbia ordering the removal of obstructions so preliminary work could begin on a pipeline carrying natural gas from the Dawson Creek area to Kitimat.

The RCMP said officers moved in for the midday arrests after it was determined there could be no resolution, even after meeting with locals a day earlier. It gave warning the blockade would come down.

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