For Immediate Release, Tuesday December 8th 2020 Contact: Maayan Kreitzman 604 723 9577
Two Extinction Rebellion Vancouver spokespeople targeted for fines and one arrested by CN police for anti-pipeline actions
Unceded Coast Salish Territories (VANCOUVER, BC) — Yesterday, CN Police arrested an Extinction Rebellion Vancouver spokesperson, Zain Haq, for alleged criminal contempt of court relating to an anti-pipeline Indigenous solidarity action on November 27th. Haq’s arrest took place in Vancouver while he was present at an Indigenous-led ceremony near CRAB park on Monday. While the VPD was attending the scene to clear the road, a different group of CN police appeared especially to find and arrest him for an alleged offence from over a week before.
They have also served fines to Haq and fellow spokesperson Maayan Kreitzman for alleged infractions of the Railway Safety Act at an earlier action on November 17th. Both Haq, an undergraduate economics student at SFU, and Kreitzman, a recently-graduated environmental science PhD and former BC Green Party candidate, often speak to the media on behalf of Extinction Rebellion Vancouver. These retroactive punitive measures represent an escalation of tactics on the part of police against peaceful demonstrators.
“By picking off the more visible people in our group with fines and nonsensical charges, they are trying to intimidate and scare us.” said Kreitzman. “It’s a classic situation where the state tries to suppress anyone pointing to the injustice it is perpetuating. But their intimidation won’t work - we’re just a couple everyday people who happen to be on XR’s media team at the moment, and we’re not going to hide. The group’s ability to function in solidarity with our Indigenous relations and call attention to the climate and ecological crisis doesn’t depend on just us. Building ecocidal fossil fuel infrastructure on unceded land must be prevented.”
“Occupying private and public spaces is an essential step towards truly understanding what a democracy looks like.” said Haq. “CN’s current authority to make arrests as a private corporation should be challenged through mass action. It is impossible to frighten people who have declared a non-violent rebellion against the government.”
These examples of delayed targeting of those taking action against the Trans-Mountain (TMX) pipeline are the latest in a troubling trend where protesters are surveilled and targeted after the fact. Contrary to the 5-step arrest process laid out in the TMX injunction, two Indigenous land defenders (Stacy Gallagher and Jim Leyden) were targeted out of a crowd, charged and convicted of criminal contempt of court this year, using only surveillance - neither were arrested on the scene. The rail blockade actions for which the two XR spokespeople are being targeted were both peaceful and ended with no arrests or tickets on the scene.
The anti-TMX protests, and the severe police response take place as Canada legislates its climate targets this month. According to the UN’s Gap report, published this week, Canada’s proposed policies forecast an increase in oil and gas production and will not align with the Paris Agreement to hold global warming to 1.5 degrees C. The BC and Canadian governments are pushing ahead with construction of both the Coastal GasLink pipeline and the TransMountain Expansion, despite resistance from hereditary leaders and First Nations along both routes and a recent warning from economists that the TransMountain project is no longer financially viable. In November, the Canada Energy Regulator released a report stating that there is no need for any pipeline expansion if Canada takes measures to curb GHGs. Indigenous groups, as well as the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls have pointed out the connection between resource extraction man-camps and violence against Indigenous women.
TMX was purchased by the federal government from KinderMorgan in 2018. In February, TMX announced the cost of the pipeline expansion had soared from $7.4 billion to 12. 6 billion.
In February 2020, demonstrators set up rail blockades across Canada in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs’ opposition to the Coastal Gas Pipeline.
Over 200 people have been arrested in peaceful civil disobedience actions on Burnaby Mountain in opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline, mostly in 2018. Opposition continues, with nine people including Secwepemc hereditary leaders getting arrested near Kamloops for standing in the way of pipeline construction in October 2020.
About Extinction Rebellion:
Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction, global pollution, and abrupt, runaway climate change. Societal collapse and mass death are seen as inevitable by scientists and other credible voices, with human extinction also a possibility, if rapid action is not taken. Extinction Rebellion (XR) is an international grassroots movement that uses nonviolent direct action to mobilize the public to drive systemic change in the face of the climate and ecological crisis. Extinction Rebellion is fully made up of volunteers and relies solely on donations.
Extinction Rebellion believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by their Government. Extinction Rebellion’s key demands are: TELL THE TRUTH - Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change. ACT NOW - Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025. BEYOND POLITICS - Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice. ###