(USA) Tar Sands day of action - Over 50 Enter Tree Blockade in Defiance of Police Repression to Defend Tree-Sitters
WINNSBORO, TEXAS – MONDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2012 – Following a weekend of nonviolent civil disobedience training in North Texas by Tar Sands Blockade, many dozens of protesters and supporters are rallying today at the site of the largest and longest tree sit in Texas history to stage the largest walk-on site protest and civil disobedience in the history of Keystone XL pipeline construction. Several individuals are defending the tree sitters and the trees by locking themselves to construction equipment being used in proximity to the forest blockade. Solidarity actions are also taking place in Washington DC, Boston, Austin and New York City.
Altogether more than 50 blockaders are risking arrest to stop Keystone XL construction and bring attention to TransCanada’s repression of journalists attempting to cover the blockaders’ side of the story. They are joined by dozens of supporters who are rallying on public property with colorful banners and signs alongside the easement’s closest highway crossing. A massive media team is in tow to document the day of action and any possible police repression.
As the Winnsboro tree blockade enters its fourth week, the blockaders are resupplying their friends in the trees with fresh food, water, and cameras to further document their protest despite the threat of a newly-expanded Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) by TransCanada and egregious criminal overcharges by local law enforcement. Due to the SLAPP suits’ outrageous claims, the tree sitters have by-and-large felt too threatened to safely reveal their identities, despite their protest being nonviolent. That the defiant walk-on protest is the largest yet attempted in the history of protests surrounding Keystone XL construction sends a clear signal that the blockaders will not be deterred by SLAPP suits and other legal threats to limit their civil liberties.
“Three weeks is a long time to be sitting in a tree. The training I got this weekend has me ready to rise up and join the sitters in defending Texas homes from the toxic tar sands,” shared Glenn Hobbit, 28. “They’re saying we might get sued or worse, but stopping this pipeline is too important.”
Last week, the multinational corporation opened a civil suit in which it named 19 individual defendants, 3 organizations, and 6 anonymous tree sitters for a total of 28 defendants seeking an injunction, declaratory relief, and damages. All the named defendants are former arrestees of Tar Sands Blockade actions with the exception of media spokesperson Ron Seifert, who has yet been arrested in connection with a protest, and area landowner Eleanor Fairchild, who acted independently with activist and actor Daryl Hannah. Hannah was not named in the suit.
Tar Sands Blockade is a coalition of Texas and Oklahoma landowners and climate justice organizers using peaceful and sustained civil disobedience to stop the construction of TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
“In reality, Tar Sands Blockade is not trespassing on TransCanada’s property. Many of TransCanada’s easement contracts were brokered through fraud and intimidation, and their entire legal foundation is being challenged in the courts for those reasons,” explained Ron Seifert, Tar Sands Blockade spokesperson. “If anything TransCanada is trespassing on the property of landowners who never wanted anything to do with their dangerous tar sands pipeline.”
UPDATE 8:15AM - Supporters rally nearby to stop the pipeline.
UPDATE 8:20PM- A beautiful morning in what remains of our East Texas forest. TransCanada has clear-cut outside of their designated pathway and around the west side of the tree blockade leaving a muddy path of destruction in their wake.
UPDATE 8:35PM- Over 50 blockaders march through the woods toward the tree blockade
UPDATE 9:00AM - One blockader arrested after sitting down in the path of Keystone XL and refusing to leave.
UPDATE 9:06AM- Three blockaders have been arrested. We outnumber TransCanada’s police 3 to 1. Two blockaders have locked down to excavator equipment protecting the tree blockade.
UPDATE 9:45AM- Small group of ground blockaders break through police line and enter tree blockade!
UPDATE 10:00AM- 4 arrests so far. Freelance journalist/livestreamer Lorenzo Serna has been released. The rally at the easement near the highway is going strong with chanting, singing and lots of colorful banners. TransCanada is barking orders at the police. We should have video and pictures soon.
UPDATE 11:00AM- Today’s first solidarity rally in Washington DC is beginning now outside the American Petroleum Institute!
UPDATE 11:10AM- 6 blockaders have been arrested at the Tree Blockade.
UPDATE 11:35AM- Picture from the DC solidarity rally. Over sixty people turned out over their lunch hour to stand with the Texas blockade and stop Keystone XL.
UPDATE 12:50PM-We have now confirmed that a 70-year-old woman participating in the blockade was thrown to the ground and tackled by TransCanada’s hired thugs. Video will be coming soon.
UPDATE 1:55PM – At least eight people have been arrested after walking onto the Keystone XL clear cut in defiance of recent repression. Two blockaders are still locked to huge excavator in the path of toxic pipeline.
UPDATE 3:20PM- Solidarity rally in Denton, TX has begun!
UPDATE 3:45PM- In case you missed it, Tar Sands Blockade was on Democracy Now! this morning. Our spokesperson Ron Seifert was joined by landowner Susan Scott and actress Daryl Hannah to discuss the blockade, TransCanada’s bullying and the SLAPP lawsuit against 21 people associated with stopping tar sands.
UPDATE 3:50 PM - Two blockaders who locked themselves to Keystone XL machinery have been arrested. A crowd of supporters stood by and cheered for as they were taken into police custody to the cheers. These two most recent arrests make eight total for the day.
UPDATE 4:00PM – Our first arrestee has been released without charges. He was arrested early this morning when he sat down in the Keystone XL’s pathway and refused to move. His defiant action helped delay police officers and allowed other blockaders to breach the police line and enter the tree blockade. After he was arrested he was made to lie face-down in the mud for several hours. He continued to refuse compliance with the police and siting health concerns had to eventually be removed on a stretcher. He was later released from the hospital without charges.
UPDATE 4:15PM- Solidarity photo in front of the TransCanada offices in Westborough, Massachusettes.
UPDATE 4:30PM -We’re getting sued!
As the Winnsboro, Texas tree blockade enters its fourth week, over 50 blockaders publicly demonstrated on the Keystone XL easement despite the threat of a newly-expanded Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) by TransCanada and egregious criminal overcharges by local law enforcement.
Due to the SLAPP suits’ outrageous claims, the tree blockaders have by-and-large felt too threatened to safely reveal their identities, despite their protest being nonviolent. Today’s defiant walk-on protest is the largest in the history of protests surrounding Keystone XL construction sends a clear signal that we will not be deterred by SLAPP suits and other legal threats to limit our civil liberties.
Apparently we’ve been causing some serious delays of Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
UPDATE 6:00PM- Six of the eight arrested today have been released from jail on charges of criminal trespass which is a class B misdemeanor. The bail was $1,500 each, a total of $9,000. The two blockaders who locked themselves to Keystone XL machinery will see a judge in the morning.
UPDATE 8:00PM- Today was our biggest day of action yet! More video and stories will be trickling out over the next couple of days as we try and wrap our heads around everything that happened today. In the meantime we have a ton of brilliant and beautiful photos that begin to tell the story. Check them out.
UPDATE 6:00AM – Read the excellent coverage about the blockade in today’s Washington Post.
On Monday, after a weekend of nonviolent civil disobedience training, supporters of the Tar Sands Blockade rallied in Winnsboro, Tex., where protesters were holding a “sit-in” 70 feet off the ground in a swath of trees. The trees stand in the middle of a corridor already cleared for the pipeline. The tree-climbing pipeline foes unfurled a banner that reads: “Rise Up and Defend Your Homes.”
“The only option afforded to powerless individuals who have been abused by the system is this tactic of nonviolent civil disobedience,” said Seifert, the Tar Sands Blockade spokesman. “Everything has been done to petition for justice at every level. And the institutions failed. This is a clear case of injustice, and it’s up to people to rise up and defend themselves.” Read the full story here.
UPDATE Oct 16th, 7:00AM - Watch our intense action video!
For further updates visit http://tarsandsblockade.org