Oklahoma “Glitter’ Activists Found Not Guilty!

okOklahoma “Glitter’ Activists Found Not Guilty!

Reposted from Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance

Judge Phillipa James announced today a Not Guilty Verdict in regards to last month’s Disorderly Conduct trial of local environmental activists Moriah Stephenson and Stefan Warner. Stephenson and Warner were arrested nearly two and a half years earlier when glitter spilled off of a Hunger Games-themed banner that the activists hung in the open-to-the-public atrium of the Devon Energy building. The glittery banner read, “The Odds Are Never in Our Favor.”

At their trial, Stephenson and Warner explained that the banner was intended to highlight the disproportionate ways in which oil and gas development occurs. Stephenson explained, “Our intent was to highlight that the odds are never in our favor, our being the people’s favor.” Stephenson explained that oil and gas development disenfranchises communities of color and low-income, rural communities, a practice commonly referred to as environmental racism. Stephenson told the courtroom, “The purpose of the demonstration was to raise awareness about Devon Energy’s involvement in tar sands extraction and the environmentally racist nature of tar sands extraction.” Warner contributed that the large tax incentives that oil and gas corporations receive have exacerbated our current economic crisis in Oklahoma. Additionally, oil and gas corporations gain wealth from hydraulic fracturing, while homeowners are forced to pay for earthquake damage that results from the disposal of fracking wastewater.

The activists’ lawyer argued that Stephenson and Warner’s actions were a form of protected free speech. Judge Philipa James found that Warner and Stephenson were both engaged in political protest and that the evidence presented by both the defense and the City of Oklahoma City established that there was no “public alarm” caused by the protest activity.

For interviews or questions, contact: Moriah Stephenson (405) 283-6140

Statement On Police Murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile

BLMRising Tide North America Statement On Police Murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile

San Francisco, CA: Once again with heavy hearts Rising Tide North America released this statement on the police murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile:

“Rising Tide North America stands in solidarity with the friends and loved ones of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile,both murdered, respectively, by racist police departments in Baton Rouge, La and St. Paul, Mn.

We condemn the actions of the white officers who committed these horrible acts and the racist police state which systematically destroys the lives of black men, their families and communities of color across the country. We condemn the rhetoric of leaders in both political parties, police officials and media opinion-makers who normalize and defend this system.

We demand justice for Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.

Rising Tide North America is a continental network of climate justice groups and individuals committed to challenging the root causes of climate change, including capitalism and institutional racism. We stand for social, racial, environmental and climate justice. We are committed to working with and alongside frontline communities.

We can only address climate change by exposing the intersections between the oppression of humans, communities and the planet. In order to create a livable and just future for all, we work toward the empowerment of marginalized communities and the dismantling of the systems of oppression that keep us divided.

In this moment, we call on our friends and community in the climate justice movement to join the fight for racial justice and confront white supremacy. As we’ve said before: Our fight for climate justice is inextricably connected with racial justice. We cannot have the one without the other.  

We demand justice for Alton Sterling and Philando Castile!”

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Oklahoma Glitter Environmental Activists Headed To Trial!

okvia Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance

Oklahoma Environmental Activists Headed To Trial

Contact: Stefan Warner
Phone: 405-283-6140
Email: gptsrmedia@gmail.com
Date: 6/27/2016

On December 13th, 2013, Moriah Stephenson and Stefan Warner were arrested while taking part in a non-violent peaceful protest. The two activists were taken into custody after hanging a glittery Hunger Games themed banner in the open-to- the public atrium of the Devon Energy Center. The activists were booked into the Oklahoma County Jail under the felony charge Terrorism Hoax, which carries up to 10 years in prison. The activists’ arrest gained international media attention due to the severity of the arresting charge. Documents obtained by journalists proved that the Joint Terrorism Task Force, TransCanada Corporation, and the Oklahoma City Police had met together prior to the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline to strategize ways to prosecute environmental activists as terrorists. The terrorism hoax charges have been dropped, but Stefan Warner and Moriah Stephenson will stand trial for misdemeanor disorderly conduct on June 30 th at 8 am in the Oklahoma City Courthouse. A charge which their lawyer argues is still a violation of free speech.

The glittery banner in question read, “The Odds Are Never in Our Favor.” The banner highlights the disproportionate ways in which oil and gas development occurs, granting power, wealth, and access to oil corporations while disenfranchising communities of color and low-income- rural communities. The reality that “The Odds Are Never in Our Favor” has become even more clear in recent years as the State’s budget deficit has resulted in funding cuts for public education and public needs programs while continuing to offer tax incentives to large oil corporations. Warner and Stephenson had no intention of causing panic or alarm, they simply were using free speech to highlight the similarities between The Hunger Games series and our everyday lives in Oklahoma: a small group of people profit off of the resources and labor of many, while exploiting marginalized communities. These activists wanted to highlight at least three primary injustices perpetrated by Devon Energy: 1) Devon Energy is
involved in extracting and transporting tar sands oil, the heavy and toxic crude that the Keystone XL pipeline carries from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico to be sold on the global market, 2) Devon Energy’s practice of tar sands extraction is environmental racism, most negatively impacting low-income, indigenous communities in Canada and across the U.S. such as the Lubicon Cree First Nation, Mikisew Cree First Nation and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation 3) Devon Energy lobbies for and receives large tax incentives which have resulted in the disastrous budget deficit Oklahoma is currently facing.

In all of these ways the dominance of the oil and gas industry and the failure of the Oklahoma state government to
diversify the economy create a situation in which “The Odds Are Never in Our Favor.” These activists’ arrest highlights another way that “The Odds Are Never in Our Favor,” violation of free speech. The odds are not in our
favor when the oil and gas industry is protected when environmental catastrophe or economic crisis occurs, but
individual residents are persecuted for spilling glitter from a banner.

Stephenson and Warner invite community members to be present at their trial on June 30th at 8 AM.

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Twenty-One People Arrested Blockading Oil Train Route in Vancouver, WA

vancouverTwenty-One People Arrested Blockading Oil Train Route in Vancouver, WA

via Portland Rising Tide

Over 100 people stopped rail traffic by forming a human blockade across the tracks in Vancouver, WA on Saturday, June 18.  Watch a recap video and donate to their legal fund.

Organized by the Fossil Fuel Resistance Network in response to the recent oil train derailment in Mosier, OR, the action united voices from across the region in concern not only about the potential local impacts of continued oil-by-rail, but also about the immediate and critical threats of carbon emissions and climate change. During the blockade, many community members spoke about their grief and rage that corporate greed is putting our local ecosystems and communities at risk and fueling the sixth great global extinction.

The Union Pacific train that derailed in Mosier on June 3rd contaminated the Columbia River and local sewer system with crude oil fracked from the Bakken Shale, ignited a fire that released toxic oil smoke into the air, evacuated local neighborhoods and schools, and ultimately drained the city’s entire aquifer.  In the last three years alone, oil train derailments in North America have killed forty-seven people, spilled millions of gallons of oil into waterways, forced the evacuation of thousands and caused billions of dollars in property damage and environmental destruction.

Community members connected the local disaster to a greater climate crisis – ecosystems across the planet are rapidly destabilizing, confirming the worst case scenarios of climate scientists’ predictions.  “We need Governors Brown and Inslee to do more than just advocate for a temporary moratorium on oil trains!  We need them to enact an immediate just transition to a post-fossil fuel economy,” said Portland resident Audrey Caines.  “If governments are not going to take decisive and immediate action to keep fossil fuels in the ground, people’s movements like this one will.”

Speakers also addressed the social consequences of fossil fuel infrastructure, stating that marginalized communities bear disproportionate risks and consequences, as oil train blast zones, pipeline routes, and drilling sites typically exist in low-income rural areas and communities of color. In Mosier, the disaster threatened food and water sources for local Native tribes.

BNSF and the Vancouver city police tried to disperse the crowd multiple times.  In an act of pure intimidation, BNSF ran an engine within 50 feet of the protesters on the tracks and blew it’s horn repeatedly.  Despite the looming non-verbal threat, nobody sitting on the rails made any moves to leave.

The Pacific Northwest has seen a growing movement against fossil fuel transport throughout the region.  Concerned residents point out that proposed new fossil fuel terminals and terminal expansions, including the proposed Tesoro-Savage oil terminal in Vancouver, WA, could result in a dramatic increase in coal and oil trains passing through the Columbia Gorge each week. Mosier would see five times the amount of oil train traffic if these projects are approved. “This is not just the beginning!” said Portland Rising Tide activist Mia Reback. “This movement is growing and will not stop until all fossil fuel extraction projects are shut down and all known fossil fuel reserves are kept safely in the ground! Oil barons beware: we will be back!”