HOUSTON, B.C. — British Columbia RCMP have confirmed two journalists were among 15 people who were arrested on Friday for breaching an injunction barring protesters from blocking an access road used by Coastal GasLink pipeline workers.
While their names were not released by RCMP, lawyer Frances Mahon says photojournalist Amber Bracken and documentary filmmaker Michael Toledano were arrested at the site near Houston, in northern B.C., and remained in custody as of this morning.
B.C. RCMP said 11 individuals were arrested at structures that had been erected along a road leading to a drilling site, including two who identified themselves as journalists following their arrest. Four other people were arrested at a different location.
Sgt. Janelle Shoihet said all those who were arrested for breaching the injunction have been taken to Smithers, B.C., and are expected to appear in court on Monday in Prince George.
B.C.-based journalism outlet The Narwhal says Bracken was hired by them to report on the events unfolding in northern B.C., where Mounties have arrested Indigenous protesters who have blocked access roads leading to the pipeline worksite.
Editor-in-Chief Emma Gilchrist said in a statement that the publication is “extremely disturbed” by the arrest, which she described as a violation of Bracken’s charter rights and of press freedom.
The Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) has also issued a statement demanding the RCMP immediately release Bracken and Toledano.
“As was the case this past summer in Fairy Creek, and several other instances before it, the RCMP has gone outside the law in its efforts to prevent the press from covering events taking place in the public interest. It is an absolute disgrace,” said Brent Jolly, CAJ president. “In fact, in late September, Justice Douglas Thompson of the Supreme Court of British Columbia refused to extend an injunction around Fairy Creek on Vancouver Island because of police misconduct.”
The CAJ also said it is unsure where Bracken or Toledano’s camera equipment is located, adding that if the police have it, they need to return it with the contents intact.