Four protesters were arrested Monday evening after occupying part of Castlegar’s main thoroughfare for hours as part of a rally organized by West Kootenay Extinction Rebellion.
The event began at noon at MLA and Minister of Forests Katrine Conroy’s office with about 150 people holding signs and organizing a march around downtown Castlegar. The primary goals of the event were to gain Conroy’s attention, show solidarity with the Fairy Creek blockade protesters and call for the end of logging in old growth forests.
After the march, a lot of the crowd dispersed, but about 40 people remained on Columbia Avenue near City Hall hindering traffic for about five hours.
Cameron Topp, a spokesperson at the action declared, “We will sit down on the road until Minister Conroy declares an end to old growth logging or we are removed by force by the police.”
According to organizers, police arrived around 5 p.m. and four people, including a 14-year-old high school student from Nelson, were arrested.
Castlegar RCMP Sgt. Monty Taylor confirmed four people were arrested after refusing to relocate to another suitable and safe location. Charges of intimidation are being recommended to the BC Prosecution Service for three adults.
“The primary concern of police was of course public safety, police officer safety and the preservation of the right to peaceful, lawful and safe protest,” said Taylor.
“Front line officers and city officials worked quickly to re-direct traffic safely around demonstrators and properly notify all other emergency services personnel. While RCMP established and participated in ongoing discussions with a group-appointed police liaison.”
The youth, who was not handcuffed, was released a short time later into the custody and care of a guardian. The adults have also been released from custody.
The group ranged in age from babies to seniors and came from all over the Kootenays and from as far away as Vancouver Island. A group of Nelson students were also a part of the event.
Minister Conroy was unavailable to provide a response before our press deadline.