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Mud Lake advocate arrested at Muskrat gates

HAPPY VALLEY-GOOSE BAY - Melissa Best has been in the media in recent months for her work as a spokesperson for the community of Mud Lake, which was devastated by flooding in the spring.  

Many have blamed the flooding on the Muskrat Falls project, and the cause of the flooding is now the subject of a government inquiry. On August 25, Best was arrested at the gates of Muskrat Falls, on the same day the last transformer Nalcor has been transporting arrived at the site.

“We went up to the gates for support, knowing this was the final knell,” she told the Labradorian. “Knowing that final transformer was going through the gates made it real.”

She said she walked across the road from the area where people are allowed to protest to the gates to see who was named on the injunction posted on the gate.

“On the gates they have a big sign that is the injunction and it says page 1 of 2,” she said. “There are two copies and they both say page 1 of 2. So, being bold and really pissed off, I asked them to produce the second page of the injunction so I could read it all.”

She said she told security they needed to have the second page there and security told her they would make a call. They then asked her to leave, she said, and she went across the street.

Within five minutes, she said, the RCMP showed up.

“The most violent thing about it me is my mouth,” she said. “All those police officers showing up for me was pathetic.”

She said she asked the police whom they were there to protect and they would not answer her. At that point, she began to cross the road again, and the police told her to stop.

“I had a reason to cross the road. I asked security there for a copy of the injunction again and they said they’d get it to me. I said that was ridiculous, they’re a multi-million dollar corporation and they should be able to produce a physical copy for me.”

They handed her a copy and then the officers walked towards her again. They asked her to leave and Best admits she got angry and demanded to be arrested. The officers refused and more police showed up. She asked them to arrest her and they said no.

“All these officers there, I must’ve been quite dangerous,” she said. “More showed up then, about 20 police in total and then three sheriff’s officers showed up.”

She was then arrested and brought to a cell in the RCMP station in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. Best was kept overnight, which she said was a horrible experience for someone who hadn’t been in jail before.

The next morning she was brought to the courthouse and signed an undertaking to obey the injunction. She thought about refusing to sign it, she said, but has pre-existing medical problems that would have made it difficult.

“I’m glad I signed it,” she said. “It gives me a chance to think about it. Not to say I won’t go back to jail, we still aren’t being listened to.”

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