Attack of the Contractors

Added 17 Dec

The Walbran Valley is a place of extreme majesty which has been taken advantage of for decades, and has also been fought for, for over a decade.

In the late summer of 1998, the Walbran valley hosted a gathering of the Rainbow Family for the week of the August full moon. Around 300 people were there . Later in the summer a rave was put on which had about 150 people in attendance . After the rave a camp was established deep in the Walbran to support the protests that were anticipated in the months to follow .

I was one of the people who was there from the start to help build a shelter before the rain and winds came . It was quite an interesting experience; in the depths of an old growth rainforst, accompanied by between 4 and 20 "new" people, the mission was to build a strong, livable shelter, and no one had any educated ideas on how to go about it . Most of the people there were motivated in one way or another, so eventually we erected a squared-off teepee with a smoke hole and a wood-area attached . We were pretty well stocked for food and clothes and such, and had a kitchen area separately built for kitchen-type things( which was usualy in a state of organized chaos ).

The first two months were pretty erratic for the amount of people who came. During the week life was pretty laid back, daily chores were usually accomplished, and most everyone got along pretty well . But on the weekends life was chaos . Our residence of 4-6 would turn into 10-20 . Some of the people who came from Victoria tried to act like they were in-charge-of or trying to run some part of what we were doing . We let them think what they liked, but not to the point of any affect on us . One "capitalist" even tried to pass around the idea of copy-writing the Walbran . We finally got the point into his head that that would only defeat the purpose . It's pretty interesting observing all of the different motives that can hatch from one cause .

The last month was the best in my opinion because of two reasons:

  1. The rain and the cold came, and thus all of the people whose motives were not as important as their luxuries and comfort took off and rarely showed their faces . At the very end it was myself {Lucy}, Jeremy, Dean, and L.S.. "Golden Eagle" as he likes to be called would drive in from Victoria with food and stuff . We eventually got a wood stove and moved our camp up on to higher ground, mainly because our first shelter was burned down by a person from our group (maybe I'll tell ya that story another day). It was raining every day,( we'd get half-day breaks ), and getting colder at night . We had a small bus that we built off of, and army-tarps for walls . We slept in the bus and we also had a couple of propane stoves . One in the bus, and a large kitchen stove with an oven .

  2. We started doing roadblocks and getting media attention . We had done other protests, but not blocked the road yet, and these new actions were a lot more interesting and involved ."WE" held "them" off for six days once, and got to know them a little better. I didn't think they were all bad-mannered . Some were even able to speak in the middle, not from "one extreme to the other" , but most of the debating that went on was so completely biased on both sides that not much was accomplish-able through discussion . When our friends Steve and Jim locked themselves into steel barrels full of cement,(above picture) the loggers got pretty pissed-off, and deservedly so if you look at it from their side . We were getting in their way and stopping them directly from going to work . I'd be pissed off to, but you don't always like what is right in someone else's opinion .
Anyway, the third morning they came an hour before light and started dismantling the roadblock, quite aggressively, and threatened the lives of our people . It was pretty intense playing defense to big angry men when you're a 5'5" female . Anyway, I got pushed around, whacked in the jaw, had my hair pulled and sprayed with grease, but I was ok . I just had to make sure my friends were okay . A few of them were defenseless locked into barrels . But enough of that . Richard gives a really detailed account of that morning below .

I would like to say that even though the logger guys were cowardly and juvenile, and acted upon their own barbaric initiative, I am not bitter at them personally ;} It is the companies to blame for the improper management of our forests . The world is beginning to awaken; Money is justice in our corrupt system . The judge told us that a roadblock is a "poor man's" injunction .

Lucy Carson

My name is Richard Boyce. I have been making documentary films as a camera operator for seventeen years. I worked hard to educate myself, earning both a BFA and MFA specializing in Film Production as a documentary cinematographer, and by completing a full apprenticeship as a camera assistant with the International Photographers Union IATSE 669. I choose to work mostly on social issues that I feel are important for the developement and education of our society. I have been acknowledged for my contribution in the documentary field by both my peers and the public through numerous awards. I have been privileged enough to witness many moments of human kindness as well as many acts of cruelty.
On Thursday November 26, 1998 I arrived at my lawyer's office to discuss my rights as the victim of an assault by fifteen loggers on Glad Lake Main Road at 5:30 am Wednesday November 25, 1998. These men work for Hayes Forest Services Limited, contracted by TimberWest to clear-cut sections of the Upper Walbran Watershed on Vancouver Island. The Walbran Valley has not yet been regulated by the Ministry of Forests as required by the Forestry Practices Code of British Columbia which was legislated in 1995 by the current government.
I found a large RV parked in front of the office building and a group of large muscle-bound men loitering at each entrance. I asked my lawyer to sue TimberWest Forest Limited, Hayes Forest Services Limited, and John Doe 1-15 for assault, uttering threats, and damages to my person as well as my equipment. I also asked that he seek a permanent injunction to restrain the logging company and their employees from harassing or interfering with the lawful activities of myself. I left the building and was stared down by the group of men still loitering by the rear entrance. I walked past them towards the next corner where I saw one of the men who had assaulted me in a large green pick-up truck. We made eye-contact as I crossed the street and he turned the corner. Everywhere I went for the rest of the day I was confronted by groups of large muscle-bound men who made it clear to me that they were stalking me and were proud of it. Having survived constant survailence earlier this year while filming in Western Sahara, a third world country which is currently occupied by the Moroccan military, I tried a few test with witnesses in attendance. I continued to do my job and get the story out through CBC radio, CBC Television, CHEK TV, Global, VTV, the Time Colonist, Monday Magazine, and others. Along the way I proved to three people individually that I was under constant intimidation by a large number of men who were following me everywhere. This immature behavior persisted until Saturday morning when these same men, verified and documented by my camera and witnesses, followed me 150 km north to my home in Errington where they set-up a 24 hour stake-out and tapped my phone. I later proved this by trapping them at it and documenting their sudden departure from in front of the yard after phoning to advise my father that he should photograph the men hanging around his house. I contacted the local RCMP and later phoned them to provide an update from the Errington Store. The operator decided to send a constable to speak to me which was broadcast to anyone with a scanner. The quite rural store was suddenly flooded with large pick-up trucks and muscle cars full of large muscle-bound men, all visibly angry. Three of these men I recognized from earlier survaillence. My four witnesses all agree that these men seemed intently focused on me and one friend had actually decided to leave before speaking to me because she thought she had walked into the middle of a really scary drug deal. Some of these men also came into the coffee shop where I work part-time for no purpose other than to intimidate me and then left without making a purchase. I again noted license plate numbers and photographed by now familiar faces on my return trip to Victoria where my lawyer filed a civil lawsuit on my behalf with three other assault victims. On Thursday December 4 we spoke to the press on the step of the law courts and informed them of our situation. I do not understand why the large muscle bound men continued to follow me since they had obviously failed in stopping me from filing charges against the companies and men who are responsible for assaulting me on a public access road in the Walbran Valley. However the intimidation and stalking continued so I set-up a trap. By using the same pay phone in a public mall repeatedly I was able to observe how my followers' routine worked. First they set a really big man near the entrance who stares at me and will not drop his look just to let me know that my every move is being watched. Once I pass him and go down the stairs he rolls away up the stairs. I am then escorted by another man who picks me up at the bottom of the steps and verifies that I go to the phone before entering the bathroom. Another man leaves the bathroom and lingers by the phones hoping to overhear my conversation or just to be in my face. The first man is now on the second floor looking down at me so he can observe my exit. The men differ from time to time but the routine is identical. How to document this co-ordinated intimidation activity? First take a photo of the man at the entrance to the mall then go to the phone and photograph the two close men as they enter then exit the bathroom. Run to a pre-planned location to photograph the first man at his new look-out as well as the two men across from him who are also starring intently towards the phone. Repeat this same routine later but get a friend to videotape the entire scenario with a hidden camera. Leave the mall and travel by car to a safe sleeping house. Next morning go for a stroll along the quiet street then turn around and run in the opposite direction around a corner. Photograph the three vehicles that pursue you as well as their drivers who are the same men you identified in the mall and whose plate numbers match those following you earlier in Errington, Ladysmith, and Victoria. I continued to identify my stalker and then gave them the slip in the night. Spent the week-end relaxing. On Tuesday December 8, 1998 I drove to Cowichan Lake with the other Plaintiffs and several witnesses. I presented the RCMP Staff Sergeant for the district with the video tape evidence I had gathered during the assault along with a photograph that identified five of the ten men who personally caused me bodily harm and destroyed my camera. I gave a statement to help the criminal investigation by identifying the men responsible and then proceeded to serve a Writ of Summons on one of these men at the Hayes Forest Services Limited garage at Gordan River. I still find it hard to believe that grown men would stalk and attempt to intimidate a member of the press to such an extent. Particularly in support of such a violent and unlawful attack as the one I witnessed and suffered injury from in a country we proclaim to be "the true north strong and free." The charter of rights and freedoms that the constitution of Canada upholds has been ignored by these men who took justice into their own hands. These fifteen men, supported by fifteen bystanders who did nothing to stop the assault, used excessive force to violently beat two seventeen year old girls, two women, and three none-violent men (one of whom was representing the public with a video-camera) while uttering death threats and other verbal abuse. So if anything should happen to me the public will know where to look for the culprits. Who were those vigilant men who stalked me for eight days and eight nights? Who hired them and for what purpose? If you can answer these queries let me know.

The original story

Sleeping through a hurricane was not very restful but the small pick-up truck I was protected by withstood the assault. At 5am on Wednesday November 25 I was woken up by the lights of five Hayes Contracting vehicles arriving at the "Poor-Man's Injunction Logging Road Block" set-up on Glad Lake Road, a narrow logging road with access into the Temperate Old Growth Rain Forest of the Walbran Valley Watershed.

I saw the Hayes Forest Services Limited Supervisor, John Doe #1, jump out of the first four door white crew cab truck and with several other men begin throwing aside the rock barrier which was set up near a bus parked well off the road. I put on my rain gear, tied my boots and pulled out my video camera as fast as possible. Josef, a humanitarian observer, ran toward me after the Hayes Forest Services Limited trucks had pulled through the first barrier. Josef told me that the situation was getting very dangerous at the barrel blockade where Steve Pittner and a 17 year old girl (Girl #1) were locked into three 45 gallon barrels full of concrete. Josef helped me get out of the back of his truck and I noted a van parked near us as we ran past the passenger sides of a "crummie", welding truck, four door crew cab truck, and Supervisor John Doe #1's crew cab truck.

The barrels were surrounded by men pulling at both Steve Pittner and Girl #1 whose arms were inside the outer barrels but not the center barrel which had been toppled onto its side. Supervisor John Doe #1, John Doe #2, and John Doe #3 were pulling on Steve Pittner as I ran between the barrels. Robin, a safety observer was talking to the men near Steve and Girl #2 with her dog was on the opposite side of the barrel from my approach. She was shouting at the men to stop hurting Girl #1 who was locked into the barrel nearest to the steep rocky slope while John Doe #4, John Doe #5.  John Doe #6, and John Doe #7 moved from the group with the girl towards the group with Steve after making eye contact with me. I saw everything in the headlights of the trucks which were all on. The men surrounded Girl #1 and were pulling at her arm which was inside the steel pipe inside the barrel which they were trying to topple over. Lucy was between the steep embankment and the barrel, she was using her body to stop the barrel from being pushed over by the men. I ran past all the people, barrels, and the dog and then I turned around. I had a good look around to identify the men in the light of the trucks and started recording the scene with my camera. I told the men to stop hurting these people and the men backed away from the barrels claiming that they were not hurting anyone. My response was that they had been hurting Steve and Girl #1 when I showed up.

The Hayes Forest Services Limited Supervisor John Doe #1 told me to: "Put that camera away or we'll put it away for you." John Doe #2 supported him verbally and moved towards me as did John Doe #1, John Doe #3, John Doe #4, and several others. I attempted to charge through the center space between the headlights of the first truck and it was my intention to run to the bank where I would have an escape route as well as a good vantage point. Between the center barrel and the truck I was surrounded by all these men who pushed me to the ground as I shouted for help. Lucy, Robin, Girl #2 with her dog, and Josef intervened which allowed me to get up and start walking around the driver's side of the truck past John Doe #2 on my left and Supervisor John Doe #1 on my right. I jumped over the ditch, took a few steps up the bank, and turned to see the men moving the people and the barrels again. Steve's barrel was moved towards ditch. Girl #1 's barrel was moving towards the embankment. John Doe #2 tried to grab me and told me to; "Get running, yeah that's right, get running ass-hole" I ask him "Why?" John Doe #2; "cause I told you too" I said "But I have a right to be here. You're hurting those people" I then began to run past the second vehicle and circled it so I was running towards Girl #1. Men were chasing me and a man standing by the trucks tripped me. I stumbled forward.

As I approached the barrels I saw Girl #1 lying on the ground and the barrel was on its side. John Doe #4, John Doe #5, John Doe #5, John Doe #6, John Doe #7 were dragging the barrel towards the embankment. Girl #2 was screaming hysterically "Stop You're hurting her." The Hayes Forest Services Limited Supervisor John Doe #1 was trying to pull the girl's arm out of the barrel which she was locked to stating; "You've got 10 seconds to get out of there" Lucy and Robin were trying to stop the men from pushing the girl and barrel off the edge of the road. Men were still chasing me so I circled around the middle barrel and moved beside Steve while Josef shone his light on his face. Steve identified the Hayes Forest Services Limited contracting crew verbally and shouted for me to video tape the license plates which I began to do. Josef used his flashlight to illuminate the first truck's plate while I taped it with my camera. Josef and I ran along the passenger side of the trucks and was followed by Girl #2 with her dog. We finished recording all four lead trucks license plates and then ran back towards Girl #1 who was still lying beside the barrel on the edge of the embankment since she was still locked-in while several men rolled the barrel closer to the embankment.

I ran around the front of John Doe #1's truck to the bank beyond the ditch where I was able to have a good commanding view of the people swarming around the barrels. I noted that the center barrel was no longer present. Supervisor John Doe #1 was between me and Steve so I walked up to him, put my mouth to his ear, and stated loudly, "Pull your boys off, this is crazy! Those people can't pull their arms out. Somebody's going to get hurt." He turned his head to look me in the eye and then turned away from me and grabbed Steve by the shoulder. Suddenly John Doe #2 was spraying my face with an "aresol" can. My eyes began to sting and he began to spray my camera which I pulled to my body with my right arm while shielding it with my left arm. I began to run along the ditch towards the 2nd truck hoping to out run John Doe #2 who grabbed my left arm by the wrist in an attempt to expose the camera to his spray can. The drivers door of the 2nd truck swung open blocking my escape and Pilot John Doe #8, who I had observed speaking to Steve Pittner for 20 minutes the day before (Tuesday November 24 around 2pm) He is heavy set in build with a black scruffy beard and is only slightly shorter than me at 6'2" and was accompanied by Pilot John Doe #9 who is short, early 40's, short graying hair, flat nose, and wears glasses.  Both claim to be helicopter pilots. Pilot John Doe #8 jumped out from behind the door in front of me and spreading his arms grabbed me. John Doe #2 still had a firm hold on my wristband was trying to pull me around to face him. I tried to move toward the space between the front of their truck and the rear of Supervisor John Doe #1's truck but my passage was being cut off by Pilot John Doe #9 who was wearing glasses is short and slim wearing a gray Stanfield sweater. I recognized him from the day before and got very scared of my situation because is was now surrounded by three aggressive men. Pilot John Doe #8 held me from behind by both my upper arms, John Doe #2 continued to twist my wrist and left arm while spaying my camera, and Pilot John Doe #9 moved towards me with arms outstretched and spread wide to grab me. Pilot John Doe #9 shouted over my right shoulder: "Get him!" and then I was shoved bodily towards Pilot John Doe #8. I lowered my head to shield my face from the frontal assault and used the momentum provided by Pilot John Doe #8 and John Doe #2 to help me run through and past Pilot John Doe #9.

I ran around John Doe #1's truck and was horrified to see that only one barrel remained in sight and it was lying the ditch. I could not see Girl #1. I ran past the front of Supervisor John Doe #1's truck to Lucy and asked her if Girl #1 was alive or had been rolled over the edge of the embankment with the barrel. Lucy responded by telling me she was in the bus. I told Lucy "They're going to take me out!" pointing at a group of about 10 men huddled around the passenger door of Doug's truck. I recognized Supervisor John Doe #1, John Doe #2, Pilot John Doe #8, John Doe #3, John Doe #4, John Doe #5, John Doe #6.  I also saw Girl #2 approaching me with her dog and Josef. I told Josef that the men were plotting to kill me and he needed to leave with me right away. The girls stood on the road and began to sing loudly at the men; "If you ravage the earth. If you ravage the land. You might as well cut off your own right hand." Josef and I ran down the logging road away from the trucks and men. About 200 meters down the road we climbed the bank and began to make our way through the re-planted clear-cut area. It was still very dark so we used Josef's flashlight to help us navigate through the bush and rubble as we climb the hill. I heard Lucy's voice shouting; "They're coming" so I asked Josef to turn off his light. We crouched quietly and witnessed many flashlight beams searching along the road below us. We began to move slowly forward in the dark and finally reached a logging spur that was made up of pile of rocky rubble created by dump trucks dropping their loads one after the other. We sat together and spoke in whispers. We decided that Josef should go ahead of me towards the end of this logging spur of rocky rubble which lead back to his truck where I had slept for the night. If I heard him shout I was to blend into the bush and eventually meet him down the road a ways when it got light. I let Josef get well ahead of me before moving towards the truck in the dark. When I got close enough to see the logging road, truck, and bus I waited and observed Josef and Robin at the back of his truck moving things around.

I saw no Hayes Forest Service Limited trucks so I ran down to the road and into the bus to make sure Girl #1 and Steve were not too badly hurt. I gave Girl #1 a hug of reassurance and asked her if she was seriously injured. I offered to take her to the hospital or the RCMP in the truck. She told me that she was not seriously injured just shaken up and did not want to leave the bus until the RCMP arrived. I then asked Steve if he need to go to the hospital. He replied that he wasn't leaving Girl #1 and that he would be able to heal someday. I jumped out of the bus and met Girl #2 with her dog and thanked her for he helping to deflect the constant assault on me. I asked her to come with us in the truck to the RCMP but she refused. I handed my video tape to someone for safe keeping and ran to the truck. Lucy and a camper decided to get in the back of Josef's truck and go with us to the Lake Cowichan RCMP detachment. I sat beside Josef as he drove away around 6 am. As we rounded a sharp corner leaving the cut block we were stopped by a Grader parked in the middle of the road with rocks in its blades and its lights on. The road fell off steeply into a creek with a steep granite cliff on the other side. I jumped out of the truck ran up to the driver's door and knocked on it with my right fist. The door opened and the operator (TV star from the initial blockade where he threatened to run over the girls with his machine) made eye contact with me with a big grin. I told him:; "I have a seriously injured person in the back of that truck who I am taking to the hospital and if you don't move out our way I will tell the RCMP that you blocked a public road." He told me he would back up and I returned to the truck. The grader backed up leaving the rocks but pulling to the side enough for us the drive past. Two more graders were approaching towards us but we drove past them without any problem. On the way to Lake Cowichan we passed many crew cab "crummies", vans, tractor trailers with loading machinery, grapple-yarders, and logging trucks. A few civilian trucks passed us as well but most trucks looked like Hayes Forest Services Limited vehicles. I estimate we passed 50 vehicles and arrived at Lake Cowichan RCMP detachment at 7:30 am where all four of us gave full reports to the officers who arrived shortly after I picked up the wall phone.

Friends of the Walbran
Media Alert - Dec 2/98

Civil law suit and injunction application to be filed Thursday over
logger assault in Walbran

Victoria:   The assault of blockading protesters by a large group of
loggers last November 25 has led to a civil law suit being filed
Thursday December 3rd against the companies - Hayes Forest Services
LTD., TFL Forest Ltd. - and the men responsible.  11AM press conference
to follow.
Protesters had been blockading the Walbran in a "poor man?s injunction"
for three days prior to the 5am surprise attack that injured several of
the protesters.  The civil suit is for general  damages for assaults and
threats, special damages for damage to property, punitive and exemplary
damages, special costs and court costs.  The suit will also seek a
temporary and permanent injunction to restrain the logging company and
their employees from harassing the protesters or interfering  "with the
lawful activities of the plaintiffs".
Videographer Richard Boyce was one of the main targets of the assault
and has been followed around and intimidated since the attack.
A decision by Cowichan Lake RCMP to lay criminal charges for assault and
threats still has to be made.  The victims of the assault hope that
criminal charges will be brought up against the men as well as the civil
The Walbran is one of the last stands of old growth in this bio-region.
Even though it is, in theory, protected as a "special management zone"
the forest companies Timber West and Hayes Logging are continuing to
clear cut the Walbran in an apparent attempt to degrade its ecological
value.  These multi-national backed logging companies are also
continuing to export raw logs out of the province denying forest workers
of  future jobs.
Under the forest?s canopy are countless species of  plants, fish,
animals and insects, many unique to the Walbran area and near
extinction, that have yet to be properly studied.   In approving these
cutting permits the government of B.C. is violating the international
bio-diversity convention.
11AM press conference Thursday on the Law Courts Steps with the
plaintiffs:  Blockader and assault survivor Steve Pittner who will talk
about his reasons for blockading in the Walbran, and the areas
bio-diversity and violations of international law by the companies and
government.  Richard Boyce will speak about the freedom of the press and
the right for a journalist to be report on issues on behalf of the
public.  Others TBA.
* The quote is from B.C. Supreme Court Justice Curtis who issued the TFL
injunction against the blockaders on November 17 against Steve Pittner
and others.
Contact:        Padra Ahmadi at 885-3017 at the Walbran Victoria office or
Robert Moore Stewart, Lawyer at 380-1887 or (for background) Ian Hunter,
CFS, at 381-1141