VANCOUVER (November 27, 2014) – Josh Paterson, Executive Director of the BC Civil Liberties Association, reacted this afternoon to the decision of the BC Supreme Court to throw out contempt charges against dozens of protesters on Burnaby Mountain because it was unclear whether they had violated the court’s order.
Paterson stated: “The RCMP made an unacceptable mess of this injunction, improperly arresting nearly 100 people. Today the court has cleaned up the mess. The RCMP arrested demonstrators for violating the court’s order when those people hadn’t crossed the line. Some of these people were deprived of their liberty over an entire weekend. The court made clear that the police had no authority do to that. This is a victory for the constitutional right of people to demonstrate and to express themselves.”
Yesterday, the BCCLA stated that it was concerned that many of the arrests may have been illegitimate because the RCMP had been arresting people for entering an “exclusion zone” that extended beyond the boundaries of the court’s original injunction. The court’s ruling confirms that it was inappropriate to re-interpret the injunction as applying to that larger zone, and to charge people with contempt for entering the zone.
The court refused to grant the company’s request to expand, and extend, the injunction. Paterson added: “We have argued publicly that there was no compelling legal justification to further infringe people’s constitutional rights on Burnaby Mountain and the court has agreed.”
The BCCLA did not have a lawyer arguing at the hearing.