Vancouver police arrest 2 protesters at anti-pipeline railway blockade in East Vancouver

·3 min read
Vancouver Police say two protesters were arrested after allegedly assaulting officers during an anti-pipeline railway blockade early Saturday morning.  (Ryan Stelting - image credit)
Vancouver Police say two protesters were arrested after allegedly assaulting officers during an anti-pipeline railway blockade early Saturday morning. (Ryan Stelting - image credit)

Vancouver Police arrested two protestors Saturday morning after police officers were allegedly assaulted while trying to clear a demonstration that had blocked train tracks in East Vancouver for several hours.

The demonstration began late Friday night when a group called the Braided Warriors blocked a rail line near Renfrew and East Broadway in opposition to the expansion of a crude oil pipeline that extends from Alberta to Wisconsin.

VPD says the group of approximately 30 people violated an existing court injunction obtained by CN Police in 2020 after a similar protest blocked the rail lines for an extended period.

The pipeline project they oppose is Line 3, owned by Enbridge Energy. The pipeline starts in Alberta and clips a corner of North Dakota before crossing northern Minnesota en route to Enbridge's terminal in Superior, Wisconsin.

The 542-kilometre line in Minnesota is the last step in replacing the deteriorating pipeline that was built in the 1960s.

"VPD officers, with assistance from CN Police and Transit Police, allowed the group to peacefully assemble for several hours before reminding them of an existing court injunction and directing them to leave," explained VPD spokesperson Sgt. Steve Addison in an email to CBC News.

At least 30 law enforcement officers from the Vancouver Police Department, Transit Police and CN Police responded to an anti-pipeline protest near Renfrew Station in East Vancouver late Friday night and early Saturday.
At least 30 law enforcement officers from the Vancouver Police Department, Transit Police and CN Police responded to an anti-pipeline protest near Renfrew Station in East Vancouver late Friday night and early Saturday.(Ryan Stelting.)

Police, protesters clash

Video from the scene shows protesters chanting "VPD have no authority" as at least 30 law enforcement officers look on.

One protester can be seen shouting at the officers, while staying at a distance of a few meters.

While protesters chant and beat drums, a police officer can be heard over a loudspeaker informing the crowd that they are in violation of a court injunction. The officer offers to distribute a copy of the injunction and says anyone who chooses to remain on the property will be arrested.

She proceeds to read out the injunction as the protesters seem unperturbed.

An anti-pipeline protester yells at police as officers look on.
An anti-pipeline protester yells at police as officers look on.(Ryan Stelting)

As officers move in to disperse the crowd, a female protester can be heard shouting at them to "get the f--k off Indigenous land" and "this is unceded Salish territory and all of you are trespassing."

Tensions escalate as the protesters continue shouting at police. In one video, police officers shove several protesters to the ground, but it's not clear what set off the physical confrontation.

"As the protestors were being directed away from the tracks, two people allegedly became violent and were arrested," said Addison.

He says a 21-year-old woman was arrested for allegedly spitting on VPD and Transit Police officers. She was later released from jail and will appear in court at a later date on two counts of assaulting a police officer.

A second person was arrested for breach of peace, which does not lead to a criminal charge, explained Addison.

"To arrest a person for breach of peace, police officers need to articulate that there is a tenor of violence in their behaviour," he wrote in an email.

Vancouver Police officers cleared a blockade of railway tracks near Renfrew and East Broadway early Saturday.
Vancouver Police officers cleared a blockade of railway tracks near Renfrew and East Broadway early Saturday.(Ryan Stelting)

According to him, as police officers were arresting the 21-year-old woman who allegedly spat on officers, a number of people allegedly encroached on the officers.

"This man was exhibiting violent behaviour and he was released when it was determined that there was no longer a tenor of violence in his behaviour," wrote Addison.

The Braided Warriors describe themselves on Twitter as Indigenous youth on Salish, Squamish and Musqueam territories "defending the land and the people from capitalist colonial violence."