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CN Rail files lawsuit over pro-Palestine protesters' rail blockade in Winnipeg

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CN Rail has launched a lawsuit against a group of pro-Palestine protesters who set up an hours-long blockade on train tracks in Winnipeg.

The Canadian National Railway Company filed a statement of claim in Manitoba's Court of King's Bench on Nov. 21 – one day after the protest.

The group of protesters, who described themselves as pro-Palestine supporters, set up a blockade on the rail line north of Union Station last week. Protesters told CTV News at the time they were planning to block the movements of Israeli goods on CN railways.

Now, CN Rail is seeking damages from the protesters, along with a permanent injunction restraining them from trespassing on CN railway lines in Manitoba.

The claim says, as a result of the blockade which lasted roughly five hours, it was forced to close the tracks. It says 16 CN trains were impacted by the blockade along with two Via passenger trains which had 176 passengers on board.

"The acts of the Defendants engaged in the Blockade were unlawful and have caused and will continue to cause CN irreparable harm," the claim reads, alleging the defendants are liable for the damages.

The claim names Dasha Plett as a defendant along with several other unnamed people it alleges were involved in the protest.

During the blockade, Plett told CTV News the group – Queers for Palestine Winnipeg – was calling for a ceasefire amid the Israel-Hamas war.

When asked for comment on the claim filed against them, Plett directed CTV News to a statement on the Queers for Palestine Winnipeg social media pages.

"No one involved in the November 20th rail blockade has been served with a lawsuit," the statement reads in part. "Should CN Rail decide to seriously pursue civil litigation against protesters, we must defend any individuals caught up in a lawsuit as part of the broader movement’s resistance against repression."

The statement went on to accuse media of running "alarmist headlines" and focusing on "sensational news of protesters being sued." The group says the goal of this type of civil lawsuit is typically to dispel protesters, and claims most plaintiffs drop the civil lawsuit once an injunction is granted.

CTV News has reached out to CN Rail for comment but has not yet heard back.

As of Tuesday evening, no statement of defence had been filed.

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