Nfld. & Labrador

Muskrat Falls opponent in custody, protesters block court vehicle

Protester Beatrice Hunter couldn't promise to stay away from the Muskrat Falls site — so a judge ordered her to be held in custody.

Beatrice Hunter wouldn't promise to obey court order and stay away from the site

Beatrice Hunter, far left (wearing headband) is being held in custody. (Katie Breen/CBC)

A Muskrat Falls protester is being held in custody after refusing to tell a judge in Happy Valley-Goose Bay court that she'd stay away from the site — and a group called Labrador Land Protectors are protesting her detainment.

Beatrice Hunter was one of four people who appeared in court Monday afternoon for protesting at the project's main gate on May 20 and 21.

The other three individuals were released after promising Justice George Murphy they would obey the existing court order. Hunter, however, said she couldn't promise to stay away from the site, and Murphy ordered her to be held in custody. 

As Hunter was being loaded in a police van Monday afternoon, members of a group called Labrador Land Protectors laid down in front of the vehicle. Hunter was then led back inside Supreme Court. 

"That's exactly what Nalcor is doing to us, they're keeping us away," said Erin Saunders, one of three who said she'd refrain from protesting. 

"I guess I'm going to have to obey this because if I go back down there — or anyone else — the judge said, 'Arrest them right on the spot,' and he gave that order to the sheriff's department." 

The RCMP advised the crowd outside the courthouse that if they continued to obstruct a police vehicle, protesters would be charged with obstruction.

Erin Saunders also appeared in court on Monday but was let out on the promise that she wouldn't break the injunction or her undertaking again. (Katie Breen/CBC)

The group Labrador Land Protectors gathered at the main gate over the Victoria Day weekend in reaction to the flooding at Mud Lake. 

The lawyer for Nalcor said the Crown corporation identified 10 people who broke the order, but that the four in court Monday were "repeat offenders."

The lawyer said Nalcor would be pursuing contempt of court proceedings against the rest of the group, as well as five people who walked onto the North Spur site prior to the May 20 and 21 protest. 

The undertaking that Hunter and the other protesters signed states that they will stay at least one kilometre away from any Muskrat site.

The three people who agreed to uphold the existing injunction are due back in court next Monday.