No charges for pipeline opponents who dangled from bridge
Published Tuesday, October 9, 2018 4:38PM PDT
The activists involved in a dramatic anti-pipeline demonstration underneath the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge back in August will not be charged, according to prosecutors.
Seven people were arrested after spending about 36 hours dangling below the busy crossing, preventing a loaded oil tanker from leaving Burrard Inlet, and another five were arrested for helping them pull the eye-grabbing protest off.
North Vancouver RCMP recommended counts of mischief against all 12 of them, but the B.C. Prosecution Service said Tuesday that it won't be approving any of the charges.
"After a thorough review of the available evidence the BCPS has concluded that the charge assessment standard has not been met for any of the individuals arrested at the bridge," spokesperson Dan McLaughlin told CTV News in an email.
The Crown would not elaborate on its reasoning but noted that in every case, prosecutors weigh whether there is a likelihood of securing a conviction based on the evidence and whether charges would be in the public interest.
North Vancouver RCMP declined to comment on the outcome of its investigation Tuesday.
Some of the protesters involved in the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge demonstration recorded video of themselves suspended in air below and posted it to social media, leaving little question about their involvement.
Stewart Muir, executive director of the Resource Works, told CTV News he’s concerned the decision not to pursue charges could be perceived as a “licence to others” to take part in similar demonstration.
But he also suggested a trial could have been beneficial to Greenpeace, which organized the protest.
“At one level the public will be spared more free publicity for Greenpeace, which is really what this is all about,” Muir said.
Greenpeace’s Mike Hudema said the Crown’s decision is a bittersweet victory because so many other Kinder Morgan opponents are currently facing charges for taking part in peaceful protests. More than 200 people have been arrested for violating a court injunction at the company’s Burnaby terminal.
“We’re hoping to use this moment to put pressure to really get the charges for other people … dropped as well,” he said.
But Hudema believes pipeline opponents will continue to protest either way, regardless of the legal risks.
"I do think people are willing to potentially face arrest because of the damages that this project presents," he said.
Hudema told CTV News it's possible the public could see more dramatic anti-pipeline demonstrations, but "we hope it doesn't come to that."
With files from CTV Vancouver's Breanna Karstens-Smith