Don’t Criminalize Protesters of The Kinder Morgan Pipeline
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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.
The protests against the Kinder Morgan Pipeline is clearly founded on the basis of environmentalism and protecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples - not derived from criminal contempt. 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, stating, “Far too often, governments in Canada have overreacted to land rights protests and protests perceived to threaten favoured resource development projects. 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 should not be arrested unless they endanger others or property.
With the Kinder Morgan Pipeline garnering more and more attention, British Columbians realize they must take this opportunity to voice their concerns regarding the project. The number of individuals occupying the zone of injunction to do so will likely not lessen. These acts of bravery and protest should not be considered nor treated as criminal.
(Photograph by Jennifer Gauthier ; Quotation retrieved from https://www.amnesty.ca/news/amnesty-international-bc-government-avoid-criminalization-pipeline-protesters )
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