The group Save Old Growth has organized roadblocks in the Vancouver area to draw attention to the felling of trees in the ancient forests of British Columbia.
A British Columbia Provincial Court judge chastises a group of environmental activists for the way they organized and carried out roadblock protests.
In a June 30 ruling, Judge Laura Bakan granted protester Ian Schortinghuis a conditional discharge and two-year probation for his participation in protests organized to save ancient forests. However, she accuses the organizers of these demonstrations of having used the man and other demonstrators as cannon fodder.
According to Judge Bakan, Mr. Schortinghuis is one of the naive people that the organizers use to have them arrested for them.
He is one of those people who are easy to fool , she adds.
The judgment follows the finding of guilt of Ian Schortinghuis on three counts of mischief and two counts of breach of promise not to obstruct traffic automobile.
His first arrest occurred on April 4, when he and others occupied the Ironworkers Bridge for about 30 minutes, blocking the south span. He was then released on a promise not to obstruct traffic again.
However, he did it again a few days later, blocking access to the Trans-Canada Highway. This time again, he was released after promising not to obstruct traffic again.
On June 13, he once again participated in a road blockade by standing on top of a stepladder at the entrance to the Massey tunnel. He was then arrested and remanded in custody for 17 days.
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Ian Schortinghuis had no criminal record. The high school graduate suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and mental health issues, writes Judge Laura Bakan.
He appears to be the kind of person that groups like [Save Old Growth] attract to use as sacrificial lambs on behalf of their cause, the judgment reads.
These groups train people like Schortinghuis to use it, she said.
Mr. Schortinghuis says he felt depressed because of the pandemic and says he suddenly found the sense of usefulness and belonging he lacked by participating in the demonstrations, adds the judge.
“Unfortunately, it's only a matter of time before someone is injured or killed during a protest like this.
— Judge Laura Bakan, British Columbia Provincial Court
Judgment of Judge Laura Bakan in the case of Ian Schortinghuis
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A spokesperson for the group Save Old Growth, which started the protests, describes the remarks as the judge of speculation based on defense arguments aimed at obtaining the most lenient sentence possible for the defendant.
I believe that the judge has painted a totally incorrect picture of the group, maintains Ben Holt, its principal coordinator.
According to him, all the participants in the demonstrations were ready to be arrested to defend their principles. He insists that Ian Schortinghuis was not manipulated.
While Save Old Growth interrupted its roadblocks this summer, Ben Holt intends to start again in the coming months.
With information from Jason Proctor