Fairy Creek blockade contempt charges collapse following judge's ruling that the RCMP did not properly communicate injunction to forest defenders.
Fairy Creek Rainforest defenders confronted by RCMP in 2021 (Photo by Alex Harris)
THE BRITISH COLUMBIA PROSECUTION SERVICE has withdrawn contempt charges against 11 forest defenders who had been accused of breaching a court injunction during blockades of old-growth logging by Teal Cedar at Fairy Creek on Vancouver Island in 2021.
The decision follows an earlier ruling that acquitted protester Ryan Henderson in February of this year. That acquittal resulted from the RCMP’s failure to properly read the injunction to people arrested during the protest.
The Crown is reviewing the remaining cases that were affected by the Henderson decision and that could lead to further withdrawals.
Lawyer Karen Mirsky, who has represented forest defenders, has said that the Crown is expected to withdraw charges against as many as 150 people in the coming weeks because of BC Supreme Court Justice Douglas Thompson’s February decision.
The RCMP’s Community-Industry Response Group (CIRG) had been responsible for enforcement actions at Fairy Creek. According to Mirsky, president of the BC Civil Liberties Association, the charge withdrawals resulted from police not “having the wherewithal to stand in one place and read an injunction fully and hand a copy of an injunction to an individual who is protesting.”
While the prosecutions against forest defenders may be collapsing, the dubious tactics employed by police against reporters and the public at the Fairy Creek blockades has resulted in a class action suit being filed against the RCMP.