Blockades Go Up and Come Down near New Hazelton

Kathy Brookes / Canadian Press

Protests near New Hazelton Monday night blocked rail traffic and then Highway 16 for several hours.

Gitxsan Hereditary Chief Spookw, who also goes by Norman Stephens, said he was among 14 people arrested as RCMP broke up the demonstration that had begun Monday afternoon on the C.N. Rail line, in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en Hereditary Chiefs opposing Coastal GasLink pipeline construction on their traditional territories.

In a news release, RCMP said they were called to assist C.N. Police after at least two dozen protesters blockaded the tracks west of New Hazelton. They say a train reportedly nearly missed a person on the tracks before C.N. was aware of the situation.

RCMP confirmed Tuesday that they arrested 14 people who refused to leave, processed them at the New Hazelton Detachment and released them shortly after 3 am with an upcoming court date, and conditions to abide by the injunction order against blocking the tracks.

Hereditary Chief Spookw said this morning that three other hereditary chiefs were among those taken into custody.

A similar blockade was set up by Gitxsan members earlier this month and removed as a show of good faith on February 13th, but Canadian Press reported that Spookw said the protest resumed because the RCMP have not acted quickly enough to leave the Wet'suwet'en's traditional territory where Coastal GasLink wants to work on its pipeline project.

Following the arrests on the tracks, supporters blocked Highway 16 until about 3:30 in the morning.

RCMP say during the highway blockade, the tires of four patrol cars parked nearby were slashed and they are investigating that. 

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