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Rexton protester freed 2 months after RCMP clash

Jim Pictou pleaded guilty to seven charges stemming from anti-shale gas protest

CBC News

Two months after being arrested in an anti-shale gas protest clash with RCMP in Rexton on Oct. 17, Jim Pictou is free once again.

Pictou pleaded guilty to seven charges, including threats, mischief, obstructing a peace officer and assault, and was released Tuesday with a sentence of time served, which amounts to 62 days. He was also released on conditions including a period of six months of house arrest to be followed by a curfew period.

"For what it is, I'm happy I'm home for Christmas with my family," said Pictou, who lives in Saint André in Madawaska County.

"I support the people still doing what they're doing. Fight ain't over, there's a long ways to go."

Pictou was one of dozens of protesters, many of them aboriginal from Elsipogtog First Nation and other First Nations communities, who were arrested in a violent clash with RCMP on Oct. 17. For weeks, protesters had kept employees of SWN Resources Canada from accessing its vehicles and equipment used in seismic testing for potential shale gas development.

The equipment was located in a compound off Route 134 in Rexton. At various times since late September, the protesters had established barricades on the provincial road and prevented anyone from accessing the compound. A court injunction granted in early October ordered that the highway be opened and SWN Resources be permitted access to its equipment and be allowed to carry out testing without harassment.

Recalling the RCMP's move on the protest encampment on Oct. 17, Pictou said the police "over reacted."

"The way they came at us, they shouldn't have done that," he said. "We were peaceful all the way to that point."

Pictou said he came out of the protesters trailer at 7:20 a.m. that day and saw 100 police officers.

"Unbelieveable," said Pictou, adding there were only nine protesters at the site at that time.

Provincial court Judge Jolene Richard said in court Tuesday that she had reservations about releasing Pictou, based on his criminal record and similar offences dating back to 1998.

One of the conditions of Pictou's release is that he can't protest, or be around a protest, for three years.

"This warrior has gotta put up his coat for a while," said Pictou.

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