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Line 9 Blockaders arrested near Woodstock

INNERKIP – Five protesters trying to stop work on the Line 9 pipeline project which is yards away from the Thames River near Innerkip, Ontario, were arrested Sunday afternoon after locking themselves on the construction site and refusing to leave.

INNERKIP – Five protesters trying to stop work on the Line 9 pipeline project which is yards away from the Thames River near Innerkip, Ontario, were arrested Sunday afternoon after locking themselves on the construction site and refusing to leave.

Two of the protesters, Wolf Chrapko, of Guelph, and Dave Vasey of Toronto, devised a scheme to make taking them away from the site much more difficult for police. They brought a large barrel in which they cut two arm-sized holes in the sides, stuck their arms in and had the others pour quick dry cement into the barrel. By the time police arrived, the cement was set.

They were eventually cut out with concrete saws and chisels before being taken to the OPP lock up in Paris, Ontario where they and three others were detained overnight.

Four women and one man, members of “Dam Line 9,” an environmental group, were taken into custody on violations of an injunction put in place Sunday morning by Enbridge to prevent such work stoppages.

Among those arrested were Trish Mills, Erica Rathie, Rachel Avery, Wolf Chrapko and Dave Vasey. All were in Woodstock court Monday morning, but appeared separately to face various charges related to the blockade.

“This is not about pipelines versus rail; it’s about harmful resource extraction as a whole. Tar sands and fracking related industries are environmentally and economically unsustainable,” said Chrapko.

Dan Keller, spokesman for the group, said the group which had been blockading Line 9 the construction site for a week, came from all over southwestern Ontario.

At first the media was kept away when the road to the protest site was blocked by OPP, however upon insistence, a media liaison officer eventually escorted the Two Row Times closer to take pictures, but still would not allow direct contact with the protesters themselves or allow a view of the two locked down blockaders.

The Thames River is a stones throw away from the work being done at the Enbridge Line 9 site at Innerkip, near Woodstock, Ont. More than 500,000 residents of the region depend on the Thames watershed for their drinking water. There are also rare species of turtle, snake and other endangered species living in the region as well.

To get to the site, one has to drive through acre upon acre of fertile farmlands that is a maze of 8-10 foot tall corn stocks ready for harvest.

“We’ve tried pursuing avenues with the National Energy Board and within local and regional governments. The concerns expressed by individual people and municipalities were ignored. The official processes have merely rubber-stamped dangerous tar sands projects and failed to protect us, so we are here out of necessity,” says blockader Rachel Avery.

Most of the two dozen or so protesters who have been at the site left after the injunction was read at about noon, Sunday but about 10 remained.

Protesters report that the OPP took away their food, blankets, and all other materials needed to stay safe while locked down. They were only left with a bottle of water each.

The Dam Line 9 group is only one of several similar groups across Canada who have been active in protests against Enbridge’s plan to reverse the flow of toxic and corrosive Bituman oil from the Alberta Oil Sands project, through a 40 year old pipeline that was not designed to carry this kind of heavy oil. Environmentalists and Native land protectors have joined together in their opposition to the oil sands project in general, but especially reverse flow of bitumen which they fear to be a major oil spill disaster just waiting to happen.

In an act of solidarity with those arrested, a second blockade was started at another Enbridge construction site the day after the arrests, this time in the north-end of Toronto. Approximately a dozen protestors, who identified as members of the Citizens Response Unit for Decontaminating our Environment (CRUDE), participated in the action. Police compelled the protestors to leave late Monday afternoon.

CRUDE spokesperson Umair Muhammad commented to the Toronto Star that there has not been sufficient consultation with communities regarding the Line 9 reversal. Both Six Nations Elected Council and the Haudenosaunee Development Institute have publically stated their reservations about Enbridge’s project and expect greater consultation with Six Nations.

Dam Line 9 Blockade organizers are asking for donations to help with legal costs for those arrested. Go to http://www.gofundme.com/cso110 for more information.

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Jim Windle

Jim Windle

Jim Windle is a veteran news and sports reporter who has been published in a number of mediums and publications. contact Jim: windlejim@rocketmail.com

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