Probation, community hours for Elaho tree sitters 

Four activists who took part in blockades in the upper Elaho Valley last July and August, known as the Artemis Tree Sit, pled guilty at the courthouse in Squamish on Monday (Aug. 13) to "obstructing an officer" and "intimidation," and received suspended sentences on Aug. 15.

The activists are Dennis Zarrelli, 23, of Victoria, Trevor Schatz, 24 of Ottawa, Jonah Fertig, 21, Portland, Maine, and Rebecca Averett, 24, of Augusta, Georgia. Each brought their own lawyer to the proceedings.

Although Crown Prosecutor Greg Diamond demanded a short term of incarceration for the defendants, the judge decided that it wouldn’t help matters to give the activists higher sentences than the five loggers who pled guilty to assaulting protesters in September of 1999.

She gave each of the protesters, one day in jail, one year of probation, 25 hours of community service, and three "ride-alongs" with the RCMP after the four were taped insulting the RCMP officers who attended the tree-sit.

The week before, the court threw out a constitutional challenge by the defendants that the court had no jurisdiction over unceded Squamish Nation land.

The four entered guilty pleas after their constitutional challenge fell through in order to speed up the process – two of the activists are students – and to get lighter sentences.

Last year, a 72-year-old great grandmother was sentenced to a year in jail without the possibility of parole for her involvement in road blockades. She was released after four months when the sentence was appealed.

The protesters suspended two platforms and a bridge blockade connected by a rope system, and shut down Interfor’s logging operations in the valley from July 26 to Aug. 2.

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