Shale gas tensions flare, but day passes in relative peace
One arrest and more than 20 police vehicles at scene, along Highway 11
The energy company that's been the focus of heated protests in New Brunswick finally made some headway Tuesday in its seismic mapping of Kent County, but only with the help of a court order and a small army of police officers.
SWN Resources Canada trucks were out working near Rexton, N.B., as more than 30 protesters gathered along Highway 11. The police presence was heavy, with at least 23 vehicles on site.
While there were tense moments, the day ended in relative peace. There was one arrest — blogger Miles Howe.
The protesters were based Tuesday at a nearby organic farm owned by Barbara Quigley. She brandished a letter she wrote to tell the RCMP the protesters are welcome on on her property.
Quigley said she's appalled at the money being spent to keep anti-shale gas protesters at bay, and is tired of the cause being referred to as an "aboriginal issue."
"There is no division here among us," she said. "We’re all together on this, it's not just aboriginals here, and the fact that they try to purport it as just a First Nations issue, I find extremely offensive"
The injunction issued by a Fredericton judge last week forbids protesters from getting closer than 250 metres to SWN trucks, and 20 metres from the side of the highway where work is being done.
One protester said it’s unclear why Miles was arrested. He said everyone is obeying court-ordered restrictions.
"As far as I know he was arrested because his car is parked to the side of the road — and it is actually off the road, it’s off the paved shoulder," Allan Marsh said.
"There is no signs up, that are posted, that say 'No Parking.' There's nothing that says you cannot park your car on the side of the road.
"The injunction states that protesters cannot be within 20 metres. Nothing about protesters' vehicles."
SWN is exploring for shale gas in the area, but for months has been hampered by blockades and protests.
At the scene Tuesday, RCMP served some of the protesters with a written warning to stay away from SWN's shale gas exploration trucks.
"Anyone that obstructs or interferes, or encourages such obstruction or interference, in regards to persons or property, will be arrested and removed from this area by police and remanded into custody," the warning states.
SWN Resources obtained a court injunction on Friday, ordering protesters not to interfere with the company's ongoing exploration work.
The protesters told CBC News they were doing their best to obey the injunction, staying 250 metres away from the company's equipment.
But the RCMP told them they needed to move away from the roadway for safety reasons.
Two women and a man were arrested in Moncton's Caledonia Industrial Park on Monday morning for violating the court order.
They were released without charges, but RCMP said they will appear in court at a later date and be charged with breaching the injunction. One protester could also faces charges of assaulting a police officer, RCMP said.
On Oct. 17, a protest in Rexton ended in a violent clash between protesters and RCMP officers. Six RCMP vehicles were set on fire and dozens of protesters were arrested in an incident that set off a wave of sympathy protests across the country.