Anti-coal protestors dressed as Santa Claus and carrying sacks of coal were able to gain access to offices at Port Metro Vancouver and disrupt operations on Dec. 16.
According to a statement released by the port regarding the incident, “a group of masked protestors” illegally gained entry to port offices around 10:15 am and attempted to access a restricted area.
“A number of our employees were physically assaulted and property was damaged during this aggressive act,” according to the statement, which was issued the day of the protest. “We are concerned by the violent actions taken against Port Metro Vancouver and its staff.”
The environmental group Rising Tide has claimed responsibility for the unusual protest, saying that half a dozen Santas were trying to deliver sacks of coal to unspecified port employees to show their opposition to the proposed Fraser Surrey Docks (FSD) Coal Facility.
Fraser Surrey Docks has a project permit pending with Metro Vancouver to develop the direct transfer coal facility, which would export coal from the US Midwest to Asia and handle up to eight million metric tons of coal annually.
Opponents of the project say that it would result in 17 million tons of carbon dioxide being pumped into the atmosphere each year.
After the protest, the Rising Tide group posted a 30-second video on YouTube, showing the protestor Santas being ejected from the port headquarters building.
“The safety and security of our employees is paramount, and we will not tolerate actions which place them in jeopardy,” the port said in its statement. “Everyone deserves a safe workplace.”
The statement also said that port is “working with the authorities” to ensure that “appropriate action is taken and those responsible are held accountable.”