Police moved in on Monday morning to clear a rail blockade by an indigenous group in eastern Canada that had been stopping freight and passenger traffic for more than two weeks on one of the country’s busiest lines.
Canadian National Railway Co obtained an injunction against those preventing rail traffic from moving along its trunk line near Belleville, Ontario, on Feb. 7, but provincial police had taken a cautious approach until now.
Dozens of Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) descended on the site of the rail blockade a little after 8 a.m. ET. At least three men were handcuffed and put into a police van, but there have been no scuffles.
“Unfortunately, all avenues to successfully negotiate a peaceful resolution have been exhausted and a valid court injunction remains in effect,” the OPP said in a statement. Police had given protesters a midnight deadline to move off the tracks.
The OPP said it would still encourage people to leave peacefully, and that more arrests would be made as a last resort.
The Tyendinaga Mohawk campaigners barricaded the line in solidarity with a British Columbia aboriginal band seeking to stop construction of a gas pipeline over its land.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will meet with top ministers later this morning.
On Friday Trudeau demanded aboriginal groups lift the rail blockades, which have also been staged in other provinces including Quebec, but the protesters at the heart of the standoff remained defiant, saying their conditions had not yet been met.
The Wet’suwet’en band in British Columbia has been fighting the construction of TC Energy Corp’s planned Coastal GasLink pipeline for a decade, but savvy social media use and years of outreach brought the group allies from across Canada.