- Category: news
- Created: Tuesday, 22 October 2013 13:42
- Published: Tuesday, 22 October 2013 13:42
- Written by Administrator 3
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A judge has lifted an injunction ordering demonstrators to end their blockade of shale gas exploration in New Brunswick.
Members of the Elsipogtog First Nation and other opponents of the SWN Resources Canada development celebrated the Court of Queen’s Bench ruling, saying it sends a strong message to the energy company.
"They need to go the frack home and they need to realize that they are not above any law," Suzanne Patles, who was among those named in the injunction, said outside court in Moncton.
Judge George Rideout said the injunction was no longer necessary because SWN Resources has removed its equipment and vehicles from a compound near Rexton and the protesters are no longer blocking the road.
SWN Resources and its lawyer had no comment on the judge’s ruling Monday.
The company has been performing seismic testing -- a precursor to fracking -- in New Brunswick.
When the RCMP enforced the injunction last week, anti-fracking protests turned violent.
Six police vehicles were set ablaze and officers responded with tear gas, and “bean bag” rounds.
At least 40 protesters were arrested for firearms offences, threats, intimidation, mischief and violating the injunction.
RCMP said they also found improvised explosive devices at the protest.
The protesters, however, maintain they were unarmed and acting peacefully.
Days after the violence, Elsipogtog First Nation Chief says his community has begun the healing process.
During a news conference on Monday, Elsipogtog members said their goal is to remain peaceful as indigenous people in the province continue protesting the development of the shale gas sector and the irreversible environmental damage they argue it will cause there.
"What the RCMP have put our people through, it's almost horrendous, if I can say the least," Elsipogtog First Nation Chief Aaron Sock told reporters. "But one of the things that our community does well is heal."
Sock said his community has already begun the process.
“We are on the path to forgiveness, although it is a long road," he said.
The final eight individuals who were arrested during last week's protest appeared in court Monday, but their case was put over until later this week.
Protesters were humiliated: Chief
One Elsipogtog member who was injured when the protest turned violent also attended the morning news conference. Amy Sock, who described herself as a "peaceful warrior" showed bruises on her arms which she said were inflicted by police during Thursday's altercation.
"People were violated, people were humiliated and people were injured greatly by what has transpired here," Sock told reporters. "It's a great injustice and Canada should not stand for the use of that kind of injustice against peaceful people."
Sock also questioned degree of police surveillance at the protest -- noting that an RCMP surveillance plane has been flying over the protest site for the last few days.
"One of the things that really makes me wonder is how much the federal government tends to cut programs to First Nations, yet we have a surveillance airplane," he said. "Could you imagine how much money that is costing the government just for little old Elsipogtog," he said.
The RCMP said its involvement in the protests has always been about public safety. A spokesperson said police are encouraged by meetings and discussions among community leaders that took place over the weekend.
Manitoba Assembly of First Nations Grand Chief Derek Napinak said the indigenous protesters are attempting to protect the water not just for themselves, but for future generations.
"(People) rely on these waters and fish to survive," he said. "This is an effort that indigenous people are making for everybody."