Public Action Against the Tar Sands draws large police presence

by Zig Zag

On a sunny Saturday afternoon in East Vancouver, some thirty protesters gathered at a city park and then proceeded to blockade a Shell station located at Clark Drive and 12th Avenue.  Organized by BC Blackout, an anarchist project opposing industrial expansion & resource exploitation in the province, the rally targeted Shell for their participation in the Alberta Tar Sands and other environmental atrocities around the world.

The blockade lasted for approximately 1 hour, during which scores of leaflets were handed out to pedestrians and drivers, who were also exposed to banners reading “Blockade Pipelines” and “Get the (S)Hell Out of the Tar Sands- No Pipelines, No Tankers,” (both referring to planned pipelines including Enbridge’s Northern Gateway, the Pacific Trails Pipeline, and Kinder Morgan’s TransMountain pipeline).  Numerous motorists honked in approval as they drove by.

The same Shell station was blockaded on October 23 by Rising Tides Vancouver-Coast Salish Territories.   Unlike that picket, which saw no police presence at all, today’s direct action saw as many cops deployed as there were protesters (approximately 30).  This included motorcycle cops, bike cops, as well as members of the Public Safety Unit in “soft hats” (as opposed to helmets and shields).  The PSU were transported in two Sprinter vans.

Before the rally begun at China Creek Park on Broadway near Clark, commanders of the PSU approached the protesters gathering to “lay down the ground rules” for the protest.  A Staff-Sergeant informed the anarchists that this time “there won’t be any fires in the street” (probably referring to the previous May Day rally on Commercial Drive).

Although police prevented a total shutdown of the station, the blockade succeeded in drastically reducing business for the Shell station.  Some protesters asserted that the large police presence, and their surrounding of the Shell station, probably helped deter some motorists from using it.  There were no arrests made and the protest dispersed without incident (at the time of posting).