Contempt trial of four pipeline protesters begins with lengthy body-cam video

Pipeline protesters on trial

Anti-pipeline protesters could be heard loudly shouting, singing, drumming and screaming in an hour-long video played Monday morning in B.C. Supreme Court at the start of a week-long trial of four people accused of violating an injunction two years ago at a Trans Mountain work site in Kamloops.

April Thomas, Henry Sauls, Romily Cavanaugh and Jocelyn Pierre are charged with criminal contempt in connection with protest activities at a work site along Mission Flats Road on Oct. 15, 2020.

The four were arrested that day and later charged.

The trial got underway Monday with body-cam video captured by Const. Tim Samarasinghe, a member of a specialized RCMP unit that only deals with protesters alleged to be violating industrial injunctions.

Samarasinghe said he and a number of other Mounties were deployed to the Mission Flats area on the day of the incident for a report of a breach of a court injunction. In 2018, a B.C. Supreme Court judge issued an injunction barring protesters from interfering with Trans Mountain pipeline work.

His body-cam video shows officers assembling and then walking up to the protesters. When the two parties came face to face, the protesters began to drum, sing and shout. Some used zip ties to attach themselves to construction equipment.

“I am in ceremony, I am in ceremony,” one woman can be heard yelling in the video, while police try to arrest her.

A Mountie can then be seen reading the injunction to the protesters, who were eventually carried away to police vehicles.

Thomas, Sauls, Cavanaugh and Pierre are all self-represented. Thomas and Cavanaugh were reprimanded by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Shelley Fitzpatrick while cross-examining Samarasinghe on Monday morning.

Thomas, in particular, was told a number of her questions were not appropriate or relevant — including her first one: “What is your nationality and where are you from?”

She suggested the question was relevant because the trial is about race, but Fitzpatrick disagreed.

“This is not a racial case,” the judge said, ordering Thomas to move on.

Crown prosecutor Neil Wiberg has said he expects his case to close on Wednesday. The four accused have indicated they plan to call evidence of their own.

More Kamloops News