Earth First! blocks I-69 construction in Indiana

i-69, otherwise known as the NAFTA superhighway, is a proposed interstate that would link Canada, the US, and Mexico. The road is being built to facilitate the movement of goods out of Mexico to the markets of the US and Canada. This will only lead to the further destruction of ecosystems and poor indigenous and campesino coummunities in Mexcio. Meanwhile thousands of acres of farmland, forests, and wetlands will be lost to pavement in the US while continuing the ceaseless expansion of car culture.

In the Wee hours of May 18th, fading into the early morning of May 19th, a small group of activists braved the pre-dawn chill (and the threat of arrest and imprisonment!) and slipped into the trees alongside a country road about 25 miles north of Evansville, Indiana. They went in loaded with ropes, tarps, platforms, and guts. By the time the sun had risen full up in the sky, two brave Earth First!ers–Grant Reynolds and Harriet Ray–were gently swaying thirty-five feet above the ground. Below them, banners reading “I-69 and NAFTA: Destroying Communities Here Through Mexico,” “Resist Construction,” and “Defend Farms” announced this act of physical defense to the Monday morning commuters along State Road 68.

By mid-afternoon–sometime around 4 pm, Central Time–the authorities arrived. Eight Indiana State Troopers joined representatives of INDOT and the Indiana Natural Resources Conservation Service. They detained the tree-sitters’ ground support crew and held them in their cars. The Roadblock: EarthFirst! team got the call and more supporters lept into action. One team rushed to back up the ground support crew; another headed out to announce the action to local residents and farmers in persyn. In the end, the cops released the support crew, but not before intimidating the sitters–tugging on their support lines and tossing them about with downdraft from patrol helicopters.

It’s never a good idea to interfere with a sitter’s lines. It’s an even worse idea when the sitters are on “dunk ’em” platforms: their platforms are suspended from lines that run through a pulley. The pulley is anchored to “their” tree; the lines are anchored elsewhere. In this case, one line runs to a tree forty feet away. Gohmann Asphalt and Construction–INDOT’s golden contractor for I-69–has already hacked away the trees on the actual route of the highway, so the other support line is anchored to the fallen logs they left behind. If either of these lines are disturbed or cut, one end of the platform will dip and drop the sitter thirty-five feet to the ground. Needless to say, the ground support crew is keeping a close (digital, recording) eye on the situation; if anyone gets hurt, the responsible parties will be held accountable.

As of seven o’clock on the evening of the 19th, no arrests have been made and there’s no police presence at the site. Local news media are on their way to interview the sitters. The platforms have been in the trees for over twelve hours; folks are on their way to spend the night on the ground. Harriet is in good spirits, and Grant is sound asleep.

So… what are y’all waiting for?

For more information, visit RoadBlock EarthFirst! online.

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