Anti-shale gas protesters found guilty of several charges
Two 21-year-old men have been found guilty of some of the charges against them, and not guilty on others, in connection with a shale gas protest in Rexton, N.B. in the fall.
On Oct. 17, police moved in to enforce a court injunction prohibiting protesters from interfering with shale gas exploration by SWN Resources. The officers arrested about 40 people when the protests turned violent.
Two of the protesters - Germain Junior Breau of Upper Rexton and Aaron Francis of Eskasoni, N.S. – have remained behind bars since the protest.
Several people stood outside the courthouse in Moncton on Thursday and beat drums in order to show their support for Breau and Francis.
“We need to keep showing our support and solidarity for them,” said Breau’s spouse, Suzanne Patles.
“I think the system failed our people again, our youth, our 21-year-old young youth,” said Susan Levi-Peters of the Elsipogtog First Nation. “We don’t belong in this system, this system does not understand us as First Nations people. We have different rights, we have rights to protect our land.”
Breau was found guilty of pointing a firearm and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, but was found not guilty of assaulting officers.
Francis was convicted of possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, but was found not guilty of throwing Molotov cocktails at police.
“I think it will take us a little time to sit down and digest everything that he said about the reasons for his decision, but he seems to have addressed all of the issues,” said defence lawyer Alison Menard.
Justice Leslie Jackson inadvertently left out an obstruction charge against Breau in his verdict, but the defence said it wasn’t surprised, as the trial is a complicated one.
Breau and Francis will remain behind bars at least until July 25, when Jackson is expected to deliver his final verdict on all charges.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Sarah Plowman