LETTER: Last Stand faces RCMP misconduct

From reader John Alton

I am part of the Last Stand West Kootenay group that has set up non-violent direct action camps first at Enterprise Creek and now near Argenta at Salisbury Creek. We believe direct action is necessary now because of B.C.’s failure to protect ecological biodiversity in our region and across the province, and particularly old growth forests.

We have the support of the Autonomous Sinixt elder and we know that many local people are with us in spirit. We are for ecosystem-based, planned forestry and value-added production to create jobs and local economic prosperity. Continuing to clear-cut swaths of forest unsustainably will doom the industry and ecology.

We speak respectfully with police and industry and do not escalate conflict. We are not radical, but rational and doing the best thing for the well-being of our communities and environment.

We are called Last Stand because people have been letter writing and pleading with the B.C. governments and industry for over 40 years and this has failed. Destruction of our forests continues despite reassuring words from politicians. The evidence of this failure can be seen in the devastation of mountain caribou herds, the loss of biodiversity, floods, forest fires and escalating climate change.

In addition to this environmental damage, we faced RCMP misconduct at the Argenta Salisbury Creek camp. RCMP arrested everyone including observers and casual visitors. RCMP previously had said they would only arrest those directly blocking the road.

They threw tents, musical instruments and other personal possessions into bins and trucks and disposed of them. Our estimate is that up to $20,000 of personal gear was trashed and effectively stolen by the RCMP and the logging company.

Nonetheless, we are not finished. We will continue to stand up to protect our forests. We have to, it’s the environment that sustains us, our air, water and climate.

John Alton