ELSIPOGTOG, NEW BRUNSWICK – 12 more people were arrested today in their attempts to stop SWN Resources Canada from conducting seismic testing along highway 126, in Kent County, New Brunswick.
At about 1:15pm, a convoy of cars parked themselves on River Lane, near the town of Kent Junction, about 100 metres from the thumpers. About 40 people then stationed themselves on the side of the road adjacent to the 3 thumpers, and began drumming and singing. The thumpers stopped their procession, and a group then stationed themselves in front of the trucks, blocking their paths.
RCMP forces then arrived, and a confrontation – as happened last Friday morning when 12 people were arrested attempting to halt the thumpers – ensued. The RCMP approached the gathered crowd in a line formation that spanned the highway. The crowd in front of the thumpers thinned to about ten people while the remainder of the crowd moved to the shoulder of the highway and continued to drum and sing.
RCMP then arrested 8 people, including one Mi’kmaq woman eight and a half months pregnant. It should be noted that one non-Indigenous woman from the local community who had stationed herself in front of the thumpers – and who claimed that it was her full intent to be arrested – was instead forced to the side of the road by RCMP. Whether this was based on an intent to paint those arrested as being from the local Indigenous community is unclear.
Things continued for about 2 hours in something of a standoff, with a line of RCMP in front of a line of Indigenous and non-Indigenous protestors. The thumper trucks sat parked on the highway.
What happened next happened very quickly, and is it difficult to precisely determine the exact chain of events.
A signal came from one RCMP officer, and the line of about 20 police that flanked those opposed to shale gas exploration and drilling began moving into an action pattern. The RCMP officer closest to the thumpers stepped from the highway onto the shoulder of the road, effectively creating a human barricade between the thumpers and the last person on the shoulder of the road. The thumpers then started their engines, and began to drive off.
From the back of the line, one man then quickly broke through the line of RCMP and threw himself under the lead moving thumper. Another man then ran across the road and was quickly taken down. A woman – who witnesses say is the partner of the first man who went under the truck – was then removed from the line by RCMP officer Plourde. Eyewitnesses say that the woman was dragged from the shoulder of the road, and was never on the highway. Eyewitnesses also say that she was subsequently punched in the face. Photographs show the woman with blood coming from the side of her mouth.
In total, today's 12 arrests - which just happens to be National Aboriginal Day - brings us to 29 arrests from both the Mi'kmaq and non-Indigenous communities.