Ben Isitt stops a yarding machine from taking timber out of the Bear Mountain Interchange right-of-way. (Photo: C. Knight)
A small but spirited group put their freedom and safety on the line today to stop the work crews that are destroying rare ecosystems and First Nations sites on Vancouver Island.
About 40 people turned out at noon in Langford, BC and marched up the highway to view the destruction. Two dozen or so were inspired to scramble over the fresh-cut trees and stand in front of the yarders and excavators that were working. All four machines had to be shut down. The handful of police on the scene made no arrests and issued no warnings.
After stopping the machines, many of us made our way through the stumps and slash to Langford Lake Cave, which has a huge mass of rebar crisscrossed over the entrance like a drunken spider web. The second entrance has a triangular steel cap welded over it. The forest was cut to within a few meters of the cave entrances.
(Photo: Pete Rockwell)
We found the spot where the camp kitchen had stood, and we were able to salvage much of the food, camping gear, and personal belongings that were piled up and left on the site.
Without a medium-sized army of RCMP and special forces to back them up, the contractors had no choice but to give up and go home. The police forces withdrew on Friday evening, and one officer said the operation had required 300 officers in rotating shifts on patrols, command and communications. We estimate the operation cost $5000 an hour for the 60 hours or so the officers were on the ground. The question of who is picking up the tab has not yet been answered.
We have raised the cost of aggressive development on the Island. If the greedy thugs want to force through this kind of horrific, destructive project, they will have to call in the army. Otherwise, we will stop them.
Today’s rally was organized in part by the Hundred Voices of Conscience, and here is their announcement.
A HUNDRED VOICES OF CONSCIENCE
Citizens scored a big victory in Langford today, re-occupying the site of the proposed Bear Mountain Interchange and forcing RCMP and “feller-bunchers” to retreat! Let us build on this victory by taking a new step…
Hundred Voices of Conscience
Call to Mass, Peaceful, Direct Action Against the Bear Mountain Development and Further Construction of the Interchange
This past week’s paramilitary-style police operation sanctioned by the City of Langford, to circumvent the growing legitimate public opposition to the Bear Mountain interchange, was a heavy-handed assault against land, local democracy and current, widespread ecological consciousness.
At a time of unprecedented ecological crisis, it is the moral obligation of the entire human community to take immediate action to prevent unnecessary harm and destruction to the natural world and all its inhabitants; and to reverse developments that systematically destroy the life-support systems of the earth for profit.
Hundred Voices of Conscience, inspired by the Gandhian tradition of mass civil resistance, is a call:
1. To gain the pledge of a minimum of 100 conscientious citizens who will peacefully, simultaneously and with dignity, incur the risk of arrest, to cross police lines surrounding the forest of the proposed Bear Mountain interchange;
2. To intervene between the land and earth-moving machinery;
3. And to act on our civic duty to prevent unnecessary harm to the delicate ecosystems around Spencer’s Pond and the Langford Lake caves; and to prevent further build-out of the Bear Mountain development on Spaet (Skirt) Mountain, shared traditional territories of Coast Salish peoples.
We seek solidarity with like-minded individuals willing to make a commitment to a community initiative of mass non-violent direct action at an undisclosed time and place. Legal training and support will be provided.
If you wish to be one of the Hundred Voices of Conscience, please sign the pledge and arrange to return it by emailing email@example.com as soon as possible.
I pledge to participate in the Hundred Voices of Conscience to peacefully take a stand of non-violent civil resistance to the unwise, destructive and unjust construction of the Bear Mountain Development and interchange.
By so doing, I agree to the Hundred Voices of Conscience Code of Conduct.
Hundred Voices of Conscience Code of Conduct
1. I refrain from any action that harms or damages nature or property.
2. I treat everyone I meet with friendliness and openness about my intentions and motivations for participating in this action.
3. I look after the safety of my fellow resisters.
4. I expect to be treated with dignity and respect — free from harassment, harm and injury by all who I encounter.