The mood has changed at a standoff that turned violent today in Rexton, N.B., between shale gas protesters and the RCMP.
The majority of police at the scene left around 7 p.m., to cheers from a crowd of protesters.
John Levi, a First Nations chief on the scene, had earlier spoken to RCMP officers — trying to reach an agreement on ending the standoff.
It is not known what was said but, at the end of the conversation some 40 officers, who were wearing shields and helmets, left. About a dozen remained.
Levi later said that First Nations may have “lost the battle” referring to the fact that SWN Resources, the company at the centre of the conflict, has not agreed to stop shale gas seismic testing, as the protesters demand.
But “we have not lost the war,” he added.
Earlier in the day, protesters and RCMP clashed, leading to at least five police vehicles being set on fire and the arrest of a First Nations chief.
In a news release, the RCMP said more than 40 protesters were arrested for various offences including firearms offences, uttering threats, intimidation, mischief and for refusing to abide by a court injunction.
The protesters arrested were taken to three different communities where they are expected in court Friday morning around 9:30 to face charges. Police spread the arrested protesters out in an effort to prevent the courthouses being overwhelmed by protest supporters during the arraignments.