Demonstrators set up a blockade at the CN overpass at Gardiners Road on the morning of Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020.
The blockade was one of several demonstrations organized to take place throughout Kingston in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en and the Tyendinaga Mohawks, however, all other activities were cancelled later in the day. The Tyendinaga Mohawks have been demonstrating since Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020, the same day the RCMP moved in on the anti-pipeline camps on Wet’suwet’en territory.
Demonstrators gathered in McBurney Park — also known as Skeleton Park — at 8 a.m. before splitting off into smaller groups headed to undisclosed locations, one of which was the CN overpass at Gardiners Road.
The blockade was not actually on the CN Rail tracks, and traffic flowed as normal underneath the overpass. Both Kingston Police and Kingston Fire and Rescue were on scene at the blockade, and Kingston Police were seen speaking with demonstrators as early as 8:45 a.m.
A demonstrator identifying himself as Josh said that they were there to show support for their friends and neighbours in Tyendinaga, as many others across the country have and continue to do. The demonstration was intended to be peaceful and informative and no disruptions were planned. Josh indicated the demonstrators would remain at the overpass until midnight.
While there are wooden pallets and bundles of wood on scene, Josh said there were no plans for setting fires on the tracks.
Sgt. Steve Koopman described the situation on the overpass at approximately 9:30 a.m.
“Protesters have placed themselves at a CN rail line, which is technically on private property. So not only is it trespassing but there’s also an ongoing court injunction that is Ontario-wide, so it also includes Kingston. Right now we’re in dialogue with the group, and it’s a peaceful protest at this time and not obstructing but it is still a safety issue due to proximity to the tracks. CN Police are on scene as well,” he said.
While Sgt Koopman did not have specifics, he did confirm that the tracks were currently active and trains were expected at some point through the day.
By 10:30 a.m., Frontenac Paramedics had also staged on scene as a precaution.
All demonstrators cleared the area by 11:05 a.m. after dialogue with Kingston Police.
“Shortly before 8:00 a.m. on February 27th approximately 30 protestors in relation to Wet’suwet’en solidarity attended the property of the CN rail line overpass, located near Gardiners Road and Golden Mile Road,” Sgt. Koopman said in a statement to Kingstonist following the events.
“While there were no rail blockages protestors were still trespassing on private property, were in contravention of a current court injunction, and posed safety concerns for themselves, rail workers and officers on scene. Kingston Police, working in partnership with CN Police, were able to speak to the protestors and, at approximately 11:00 a.m., they departed the rail line and CN property without any requirement for physical intervention,” Koopman continued. “No arrests were made or charges laid.”
Those demonstrating have indicated they have plans for further demonstrations in the coming days. Kingstonist will continue to monitor this fluid situation and provide updates when new information becomes available.