VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – Five Indigenous protesters have been arrested after refusing to leave the Legislature, Victoria Police said.
The demonstrators were arrested for mischief just after 9:00 p.m. Wednesday following a meeting with the Indigenous Relations Ministry. The protesters apparently promised to clear out of the building after the 90-minute discussion, which centred on the ongoing controversy over blockades sparked by a pipeline dispute, but then back-tracked and stayed put.
That’s when they were handcuffed by police.
“[Protesters] called for others to surround the Legislature building and actively obstruct officers,” the Victoria Police Department said in an email. “With the large crowd, it took several hours for our officers to be able safely transport the [protesters] to VicPD Headquarters.”
VicPD added that at one point, officers were surrounded by more than 100 protesters, “and were unable to respond to emergency calls for service.”
This is just one of many clashes between demonstrators and police over the past several weeks.
At issue is Coastal GasLink’s natural gas pipeline from Alberta to Kitimat through Wet’suwe’ten territory, with some hereditary chiefs saying the company didn’t get their consent for the project, despite it receiving approval from a number of elected band councils along its proposed 670-kilometre route.
The protests, which were originally centred around this point of contention, have since grown to also speak out for Indigenous rights and broader issues.
Blockades and protests have had major impacts on businesses and communities across the country.