A Fairy Creek old-growth logging protester has received a smaller number of community service hours than other demonstrators after his camping gear was repeatedly run over at the time of his arrest.
Judge Douglas Thompson handed down the lesser sentence after noting the demonstrator had $1,600 worth of gear trashed when he was arrested in 2021, according to a B.C. Supreme Court decision posted on Jan. 5.
Keith Cherry, who acknowledged he violated a court injunction against the logging protest in the Vancouver Island forest, was handed 70 hours of community service while similar protesters have received 100 hours.
The Fairy Creek protests became the largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history as more than 1,200 people were arrested during the blockades that were mainly during the summer of 2021.
On Sept. 13 of that year, Cherry was on a logging road and had chained his arm inside a log with large nails hammered into it to make it harder to cut through. The log did not block the full width of the road, but its presence on the roadway had the effect of impeding access by vehicle traffic.
Cherry had placed his camping gear in a ditch before his arrest but it ended up in the middle of the road and was repeatedly run over by a road grader, a court document said.
“I agree with Mr. Cherry’s point that even when one expects to be arrested that they should not expect that their belongings will be lost or damaged,” Thompson said.
“There are principles, practices and procedures to safeguard an arrestee’s property that I understand police in this country to operate by when they are arrested, and operation by these procedures is what I think citizens have a right to expect.”
The judge highlighted Cherry had no criminal record at the time of the arrest and he had an “admirable and extensive” volunteer history that included working with several Greater Victoria environmental groups.
One RCMP officer resigned from its specialized team that deals with resource extraction protests after what they called “unjustifiable” police behaviour during the 2021 crackdown on Fairy Creek protesters. Among other concerning behaviour, the officer noted other RCMP members smashed the windows of vehicles parked in the injunction zone, and seized and possibly trashed protesters’ personal property.
In a response to Black Press Media, the RCMP said it doesn’t possess a road grader.
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