Civil charges could go criminal in case against logging protestors

·2 min read

Criminal contempt charges are being considered against 17 people arrested May 17 near Argenta-Johnson’s Landing during a logging protest.

On Tuesday, 19 people from the Last Stand West Kootenay and the Argenta Face community — two groups protesting logging in old growth forest between Kootenay Lake and the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy — attended the Nelson Courthouse on civil contempt charges.

The charges stemmed from two incidents near Argenta-Johnson’s Landing: arrests of two elders in June; and a mass arrest that happened May 17.

However, the day in court revealed that logging company Cooper Creek Cedar Ltd. would not be pressing civil contempt charges against the 17 people arrested in May, but have asked the Crown counsel to consider criminal contempt charges instead.

But the application for criminal contempt is now under review and a future court date — likely late August or early September — would render a decision on the change.

May 17

RCMP arrested 17 people on May 17 for violating a court injunction by allegedly blocking a logging operation near Argenta-Johnson’s Landing.

An injunction was granted in August 2019 for Cooper Creek Cedar Ltd. barring protesters from disrupting its operation at Salisbury Creek.

The order was to prevent anyone from physically blocking or interfering with Cooper Creek employees, contractors or agents, or their vehicles and equipment, according to RCMP at the time.

Three weeks before the arrests were made a Kaslo RCMP officer spoke to protesters blocking the Salisbury Creek Forest Service Road and instructed that they were considered in breach of the injunction.

Protestors were warned two more times before May 17 that arrests for mischief and contempt of court were imminent if the blockade stayed up.

On May 17, officers arrested 17 people for civil contempt, with one person removed from a locking device.

After the incident, eight people were released on conditions with a court date of July 19, while nine others were taken to the Kaslo RCMP detachment to be processed.

Timothy Schafer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Nelson Daily

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