Follow the Soapbox
"My grandson was dragged across the line and was arrested! I'm disappointed and it grieves me because of the respect we have for you!" Suzuki shouted.  
Vancouver Observer-- Linda Solomon Wood Mychaylo Prystupa Nov 23rd, 2014
Legendary environmental leader David Suzuki walked up to a police line defending Kinder Morgan drill crews on Burnaby Mountain on Sunday, at a protest gaining world-wide attention.

"I have nothing but great thoughts of the RCMP," he yelled.  Suzuki spoke about his own experience growing up in Japanese Canadian internment camps during the Second World War, and how police treated him at that time.

"I can tell you they treated us like human beings," he said. "But now you're here to enforce the law. That doesn't mean that you're above the law! Or that you make your own laws!"

"My grandson was dragged across the line and was arrested!" he shouted, his voice filled with emotion. "I'm disappointed and it grieves me because of the respect we have for you!"

Hundreds of supporters crushed against the police line on Burnaby Mountain and screamed, "Shame!

Moments earlier, Suzuki's granddaughter Midori Campos and women from the Klabona Keepers, a group from the Tahltan Nation in northern B.C. -- the same First Nation that pushed out Shell from its territories a few years ago -- announced to the crowd that they were going to cross the police line. They crossed a wall of about 20 RCMP officers and were detained. Suzuki's daughter, Tamiko, was present as well.  After the women were arrested, tension in the crowd rose. People screamed angrily, and shoved and pushed officers.  Someone in the front of the crowd held up a large stand-up mirror sideways so that the RCMP officers could look at themselves.
Comments from the RCMP regarding Suzuki's speech are pending.  Asked by the Vancouver Observer what he would say to Kinder Morgan, he responded:

"You're a sunset industry. What do we expect Kinder Morgan to say? Their job is to make money and they'll do it however they want. I'm not going to change their mind on that."

According to an eyewitness, around a 'dozen' protesters were said to be taken in by police today, among them an 11-year-old girl and her mother. Yesterday, acclaimed author J.B. MacKinnon was arrested, while a retired schoolteacher was among those taken by police today. 

"It's mainstream thing. But it's a clash between two world views. But unfortunately the one world view represented by Kinder Morgan is all-powerful economically and politically. People are desperate and need to put their bodies on line," Suzuki said.

When a reporter from Sun News asked if he would comment on whether people should bring children to the Burnaby Mountain event, Suzuki said it's people's choice. He paused, looked at her more closely and said, "Who are you with?"

"Sun News," she said. 

"I'm not talking to you," he said, indicating he'd long ago had enough of Sun News's reporting style. 

He then said, "Canada should be ashamed of itself," adding that he was there supporting his grandson, Tamo Campos, who was on the mountain today and was arrested on Thursday. "We as Canadians need to wonder why so many are willing to be arrested."
He said he wasn't surprised that Tamo would do that, and said he was "blown away" by what happened.More than 50 people have been arrested so far since police began enforcing the injunction by Texas-based pipeline giant Kinder Morgan on Burnaby Mountain. Those arrested include SFU molecular biology department chair Lynne Quramby.
Many people who have already been arrested, are returning again.  Seen at the front of the police line, working her cell phone, apparently coordinating protesters is Brigette DePape, a Vancouver-based activist arrested last week on the mountain, but also infamous for holding a "Stop Harper" sign in Parliament in 2011.

Suzuki was surprised to hear that his letter to his grandson had gone viral on The Vancouver Observer, read by more than 130,000 in one day alone.  "How did you even get that?" he asked. 

He wrote in the letter which found its way to Facebook: 

"(Campos) is a role model for young people today, inspiring them to get involved in issues of their future...Before corporations had become so powerful, every generation aspired to leave a better future to their children. That is not on the corporate agenda. I beg you to consider the fact that there are few legal avenues to protest what I believe is criminal activity of corporations like Kinder Morgan so citizens are being forced to participate in civil disobedience."

Kinder Morgan is currently conducting the geological survey work necessary to twin the existing Trans Mountain pipeline and run a second pipeline through Burnaby Mountain. The project has sparked heavy citizen opposition as its intent is to carry 890,000 barrels of diluted bitumen from Alberta's tar sands through Burnaby per day, and oil tanker traffic through Burrard Inlet is expected to increase six to seven-fold if the pipeline is built.

In a move that galvanized community opposition, Kinder Morgan cut trees in the Burnaby Mountain conservation area without permission from the city in September. Citizens have held vigil on the mountain ever since to prevent the company from further work, although Kinder Morgan's workers have now won an injunction against protesters and have begun working twenty-four hours a day to complete preparatory work as soon as possible.

Another scientist, SFU molecular biologist Lynne Quarmby, also felt compelled to go to the mountain on Friday.  After a dramatic speech before TV cameras, she turned and walked up to the police tape and got arrested.

Jenny Uechi and Zack Embree contributed to the reporting for this story.


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