Protesters leave railway blockade south of Morris, Man., after initially refusing
Copy of court injunction sat on the snow, blew away because protest organizer refused to touch it
Protesters opposing a pipeline in northern B.C. said they are abandoning a blockade just outside of Morris, Man., late Monday afternoon after initially ignoring a court injunction to leave.
By 3 p.m., a CN police officer tried to hand a copy of the court injunction to Vin Clarke, one of the organizers, but he refused to touch it.
The officer left the court order on the snow-swept rail crossing with Highway 75. Some papers promptly blew away.
"I disregard it just like they disregarded our treaties," Clarke said moments later, after telling supporters huddled by the fire he wouldn't obey the injunction.
An hour later, Clarke approached CN police officers on his own to announce their protest with nearly a dozen supporters would end. He told CBC they were happy to let drivers and media know their objection to the pipeline in northern B.C. and the RCMP's conduct in the area.
The holiday Monday blockade was the latest show of support in Manitoba for the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs, who are opposing the construction of a natural gas pipeline in B.C.'s North Coast.
Traffic slowed for seconds at a time
Solidarity protests have emerged nationwide after B.C. RCMP arrested people who tried to prevent the pipeline from being constructed. Supporting rallies have halted train service and held up traffic in many cities.
Clarke vowed to hold more protests, regardless of any court actions.
"This war is far from over, man," he said. "We're going to fight again."
In Monday's blockade in Morris, demonstrators briefly held up each semi-trailer, but only for five to 10 seconds. They let other drivers pass through without delay.
Clarke said the protesters were demonstrating their power to block traffic — if they wanted to.
CN said train movement in the area was stopped because of the protest.
The demonstration began in the late morning. The supporters said that they handed out more than 1,400 pamphlets explaining that the federal government has never signed a treaty with the Wet'suwet'en Nation, and that the land in question in B.C is unceded territory.
Semi refused to stop
The protest was otherwise calm, but got heated shortly after the court injunction was ignored. Protesters shouted in anger when one semi driver refused to stop, forcing people to run out of the way.
The demonstrators responded by stopping the next semi driver, who became agitated and demanded the police intervene. The driver was let through after around 10 minutes.
RCMP and CN police were on site to monitor the protest.
While many drivers waved and one person came with donuts, a few folks lobbed racist language at the demonstrators.
Clarke shrugged off the detractors.
"It goes to show what the general public generally thinks of Native issues," he said.
Two other railway blockades ended in Manitoba in the last week after being served with court injunctions. There were demonstrations on Sunday near Letellier and seven kilometres west of Winnipeg on Feb. 12-13.