Three members of Rainforest Flying Squad are heading to court regarding the RCMP’s continued use of exclusion zones.

Rainforest Flying Squad members Keith Cherry, Saul Arbess and Rani Earnhart will be applying to Justice Thompson for an order that the continued use of exclusion zones by the RCMP is unlawful and that the RCMP is in contempt of court.

“The court has already said these exclusion zones are unlawful, but the RCMP still insists on using them,” said lawyer Matthew Nefstead, who brought the initial challenge of the exclusion zones earlier this summer. “The remedy when someone refuses to follow the court’s directions is to hold them in contempt.”

Justice Thompson first issued an oral decision in July, and then a written decision on August 9. In both, he stated that the RCMP’s use of exclusion zones was unlawful to bar members of the public, as well as peaceful protestors and members of the media, from accessing parts of the injunction zone established by Justice Verhoeven’s injunction order of April 1, 2021.

Since that time, the RCMP have continued to use exclusion zones to restrict access to areas beyond Granite Main Road from its intersection with the Pacific Marine Road, and to other areas within the injunction zone. Currently Avatar Grove is not accessible to the public.

“Not only has the order of the court on exclusion zones been ignored, but the RCMP have stepped up their enforcement since August 9th with the use of increasingly violent and dangerous arrests of protesters, including removing protestors’ face masks and then directing pepper spray in the faces of peaceful protestors,” said Rani Earnhart, a member of Rainforest Flying Squad and one of those named in the application.

Earnhart said she acts as a support person who assists those arrested at the blockades on a daily basis, and hears disturbing stories of how they have been treated.

“I am appalled by the way illegal exclusion zones are being used to hide RCMP tactics from the public’s sight,” she said. “Justice Verhoeven’s injunction order specified that peaceful protesters had the right to oppose old growth logging. He made that clear in the injunction, but RCMP have been ignoring that fundamental and democratic right.”

The application is currently set to be heard the week of September 13, alongside the application by Teal Jones for an extension on the end date of the injunction order (currently September 26, 2021). RFS lawyers will argue that an extension should not be granted.