Two climate action protesters in Nanaimo found guilty for protests disrupting traffic and business

Two climate action protesters in Nanaimo found guilty for protests disrupting traffic and business
Howard Breen is pictured at a protest in at the RBC branch in Nanaimo in 2022.

Two Nanaimo protesters were found guilty Friday for disrupting traffic on highways and business at a local Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) branch in 2022.

Howard Breen and Melanie Murray collectively face 17 criminal charges.

Breen was one of the several protesters who chained and glued themselves to the RBC’s entrance doors on April 7, 2022.

Demonstrators at the time said the purpose of the protest was to showcase displeasure towards the bank and its CEO, David Mackay, for authorizing bank investments, receiving lucrative bonuses, and enabling the constitutionally-illegal occupation of the unceded , unsurrendered Wet’suwet’en lands by the Coastal GasLink pipeline corporation.

READ MORE: UPDATE: Demonstrators glue themselves to RBC bank in Nanaimo demanding divestment from Coastal GasLink

Meanwhile, Murray was involved with a demonstration that blocked traffic along the highway in Nanaimo on Jan. 10, 2022.

Demonstrators set up at the intersection of Milton Street and Highway 1, with the protest lasting about 15 minutes.

“The provincial government has failed to end all old-growth logging by our deadline of January 9,” read a statement from the group at the time.

READ MORE: Arrests made in Victoria, Nanaimo as old-growth protesters shut down major streets

The pair’s lawyer argued a defense of necessity, that they had to break the law during their protests to stop imminent peril to all of humanity.

On Friday, the provincial court judge found while climate change poses an existential threat, their protests did not meet the test required for a defense of necessity.

“Not surprising, obviously it is disappointing,” Joey Doyle, Breen and Murray’s lawyer, said. “We knew going in Howard and Melanie was going to be a difficult battle given the state of the law, in B.C. in particular and in Canada. This isn’t an area we’re going to have a lot of success in defending against climate change.”

A date for sentencing will be set on May 14.

Mackenzie ReadMackenzie Read

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