Demonstrators arrested as police move to end blockades at Port of Vancouver

Demonstrators arrested as police move to end blockades at Port of Vancouver

Nearly two dozen people have been arrested after refusing to leave blockades across B.C. on Tuesday, after they came together in support of Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs.

Six people were taken into custody after police moved to clear a key entrance to the Port of Vancouver early Tuesday afternoon. 

Three others were arrested after blocking a CP Rail line in the B.C. Interior. RCMP arrested 14 more people, including a hereditary chief, near New Hazelton, B.C. overnight.

The three blockades have since ended.

The demonstrations were the latest in a series of disruptions organized by people acting in support of hereditary chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation, who oppose a natural gas pipeline project that crosses their traditional territory in northwestern B.C.

WATCH | Police arrest protesters at Port of Vancouver blockade

A fourth major demonstration is still in place on the steps of the provincial legislature in Victoria.

Vancouver police moved to dismantle the blockade at the coastal port around noon PT, nearly 24 hours after it began. The Port of Vancouver won an injunction barring the public from interfering with truck traffic travelling in and out of the busy harbour on Feb. 9, after a similar protest at the same site.

Most demonstrators packed up after police arrived with a warning Tuesday, but those arrested had refused to leave. The area has since reopened to traffic.

Maggie MacPherson/CBC

To the northwest, the RCMP said it arrested 14 people after a blockade, which had first interfered with a CN Rail line, shut down a major highway overnight. 

The railway, near New Hazelton, runs through the territory of Gitx'san Nation, members of which were at the blockade. 

Gitx'san Nation hereditary chief Spookw was among those arrested. He was later released.

The demonstration later shut down Highway 16, as protesters shifted their blockade to the only east-west highway route in the area. RCMP said the blockade ended around 3:30 a.m. PT.

Dinize Ste ohn tsiy (Rob)/Twitter

Mounties said its officers later noted that "four patrol cars parked across from the highway had their tires slashed." Officers are investigating the damage.

An initial statement from RCMP said its officers arrested seven people, but the number was later amended to 14.

Near Kamloops, Mounties arrested three people who continued to block the CP Rail tracks near the village of Chase. Other demonstrators on site left voluntarily. 

People who had blocked another rail line in Abbotsford on Tuesday left of their own volition.

Mike McArthur/CBC News

In the provincial capital, a number of demonstrators gathered on the ceremonial front entrance of the B.C. Legislature remained in place Tuesday afternoon. A handful locked themselves to the iron bars at the entrance.

The legislature was closed to the public Tuesday as a result.

Several hereditary chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation oppose the development of the Coastal GasLink pipeline — a project that would cross their traditional territory in northern B.C. Numerous similar rail and road blockades have sprung up in multiple provinces throughout the month, halting freight and passenger train service for much of the country.

More than 50 demonstrators were arrested at ports in B.C.'s Lower Mainland in earlier protests this month.

Tanya Fletcher/CBC