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RCMP arrest seven, but six stayed locked in protest positions at Fairy Creek blockade

Obstacles change daily, slowing police enforcement
A 26-year-old in a sleeping dragon rested in the shade while police conferred in the background. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)

Protesters embedded in and around the the Fairy Creek watershed held their position at the Waterfall blockade on Wednesday, despite heavy police presence.

Seven people were arrested after a confrontation in the morning between two Teal-Jones excavator operators, who police say have been helping remove physical obstacles. Approximately 25 protesters were at the blockade when the two workers arrived, and they surrounded the huge machinery. Police arrested seven people, transferring them to Lake Cowichan for processing.

Police then faced six people who had locked themselves into hard-blocks along the logging road. Protesters say one person was extracted by police because the concrete hadn’t set, but the remaining six remained for approximately four hours until police left.

Four people were locked in ground holds dubbed “sleeping dragons”, where a person secures their arm down a concrete-filled hole that’s reinforced with metal. One was perched on a tripod about 20 feet in the air, and another was locked into a large log positioned across the road.

It can take hours for police to safely extract people from these holds.

On Tuesday at the same blockade, RCMP extracted several people. One man was injured when they cut the legs of a tripod he was locked on. Police say he was treated for a superficial head wound, and that video evidence of the extraction is available should someone file a complaint. A legal observer present said there were only eight supporters there, compared to about 40 on Wednesday.

READ MORE: RCMP arrest all but one at Waterfall blockade, protesters take it back next day

Seventeen-year-old Taylor Specht from Victoria was in a sleeping dragon said it took four hours for police to extract her on Tuesday. On Wednesday she was back in another hold, covered by a tarp for shade, with foam sleeping pad, a jug of water and a bag of snacks in arm’s reach.

Nearby a 26-year-old who withheld her real name, was making friends with the huge carpenter ants crawling over her, getting in her clothes. She used a banana peel to attract them away from her body. Otherwise, she said she was surprisingly comfortable.

Kassia Kooy, a 25-year-old farm worker from Salt Spring was lying face-down on a log, each arm wrapped through and locked into a hole they’d bored through the wood. The hole was lined with metal, reinforced with concrete. The RCMP’s media liaison on site that day, Sgt. Elenore Sturko said this particular design was new to them. Sturko wants the public to understand obstacles like this are why it may seem like the police are being slow to act to enforce the injunction.

A tactical team was there assessing the structures, but on Wednesday, they didn’t grind any metal or jackhammer any concrete as they had the day before. Instead, in the mid-afternoon orders came from the command centre up the mountain to pack up and leave.

The few dozen supporters cheered loudly as police loaded shovels, tarps and tool bags onto their trucks. When an officer rolled up the police tape that had cordoned off an area for supporters, legal observers and journalists, the protesters swarmed the road celebrating and helping their friends out of the hard-blocks.

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Kat Ellis, a 21-year-old protester was surrounded by police most of the day, but she was not extracted. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
This hard block that Kassia Kooy, 25, locked herself to, was a new design for police. Sgt. Elenore Sturko said ingenuity like this is the reason police’s enforcement action has not moved faster. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
Police take down a tent they’d set up as they prepared to leave the Waterfall blockade. A protester, Kat Ellis, lays on the ground still locked into the “sleeping dragon.” She unlocked herself as police drove away. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
Police gathered outside of the small area they’d established for media, legal observers and other protesters to be. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)