Early morning on June 24, eight individuals — including OMNI Center of Fayetteville members Joanna Pollock and David Garcia — blocked construction of a pump station for TransCanada’s controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline on Seminole land-by-treaty, by locking on to equipment in the largest action yet by the Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance — a group specifically geared towards stopping the construction of the pipeline through direct action.
The Report From Protestors:
The police arrived very quickly and demanded that they unlock. When they refused, officials threatened to use jaws of “life” to break their arms. Police brought out the jaws, and put up a tarp between observers and two protesters so they couldn’t see what happened to them. But they could hear sounds of the metal grinding, and very soon the protesters began to scream in pain. An ambulance arrived and took the two injured protesters away.
Police approached the Blockade police liaison and demanded that he use the lockdown key to release the other protesters, and when he refused they threatened to arrest him for “kidnapping.” Threats of brutality continued, and at about 9 a.m. the other six protesters decided to unlock for their own safety and were arrested.
The Larger Picture:
The group took action on June 24, physically halting the construction process, as a part of an effort, they said, to prevent the Great Plains from being poisoned by inherently dangerous tar sands infrastructure, as well as to demonstrate the necessity for direct confrontation with industries that profit off of continued ecological devastation and the poisoning of countless communities from Canada to the Gulf. This action comes during the first day of a nationwide week of coordinated anti-extraction action under the banner of Fearless Summer.
“As a part of a direct action coalition working and living in an area that has been historically sacrificed for the benefit of petroleum infrastructure and industry, we believe that building a movement that can resist all infrastructure expansion at the point of construction is a necessity. In this country, over half of all pipeline spills happen in Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. Looking at the mainstream keystone opposition, this fact is invisible — just like the communities affected by toxic refining and toxic extraction,” said Eric Whelan, spokesperson for Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance. “We’re through with appealing to a broken political system that has consistently sacrificed human and nonhuman communities for the benefit of industry and capital.”
“The pipelines that poisoned the Kalamazoo River and Mayflower were not the Keystone XL. Tar sands infrastructure is toxic regardless of the corporation or pipeline. For that reason we are opposed not only to the Keystone XL, but all tar sands infrastructure that threatens the land and her progeny,” said Fitzgerald Scott, who was arrested in April for locking his arm inside a concrete-filled hole on the Keystone XL easement, and locked to an excavator today. “While KXL opponents wait with baited breath for Obama’s final decision regarding this particular pipeline, other corporations, including Enbridge, will be laying several tar sands pipelines across the continent. The Enbridge pipelines will carry the same volumes of the same noxious substance; therefore, Enbridge should expect the same resistance.”
The Tar Sands megaproject is the largest industrial project in the history of humankind, destroying an area of pristine Boreal Forest in Canada which, if fully realized, will leave behind a toxic wasteland the size of Florida. The Tar Sands megaproject continues to endanger the health and way of life of the First Nations communities that live nearby by poisoning the waterways which life in the area depends on. This pipeline promises to deliver toxic diluted bitumen to the noxious Valero Refinery at the front door of the fence-line community of Manchester in Houston.