Nearly 200 individuals since March 10 have been arrested on the grounds of violating Supreme Court injunction while protesting the construction of the Kinder Morgan Pipeline in British Columbia, Canada. These people were given civil charges; however, the B.C. Prosecution Service announced that they will begin to treat some arrests of the Kinder Morgan protesters as a matter of criminal contempt rather than civil.
Some of the arrested protesters include B.C. MPs Elizabeth May and Kennedy Stewart, and Greenpeace International co-founder, Rex Weyler, along with many others for breaching the court order of staying clear of the Kinder Morgan terminal by five metres.
Protesters say the protest against the Kinder Morgan Pipeline is founded on the basis of environmentalism and protecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples and are not derived from criminal contempt. Some people are concerned regarding the contribution the pipeline will have on climate change, the consequences of a spill, and the lack of consent the government received from Indigenous communities surrounding the pipeline.
Alex Neve, Amnesty International Canada’s Secretary General addressed his concerns about the arrests occurring.
“Far too often, governments in Canada have overreacted to land rights protests and protests perceived to threaten favoured resource development projects,” Neve said. “It is clear that pipeline development is a high stakes issue for politicians. This means even greater vigilance is required to ensure that the right to protest is not sacrificed.”
The act of peaceful protest is a recognised protected human right, thus Kinder Morgan Pipeline protesters believe they should not be arrested unless they endanger others or property.
Protesters have since organized a petition opposing criminal charges and are close to reaching their goal of 13,000 signatures.
With the Kinder Morgan Pipeline garnering more and more attention, some British Columbians said they believe they must take this opportunity to voice their concerns regarding the project.
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