17 arrested protesting Florida Power and Light. Support Needed

Saturday January 10, 2009 – Indiantown Florida

Seventeen Earth First! activists were arrested this afternoon in an effort to re-open Barley Barber swamp for public use and immediate scientific monitoring. Expressing great concern for the impact Florida Power and Light has had on this landmark property, activists engaged in civil disobedience to assert the need for immediate independent scientific monitoring of the oldest bald cypress trees in Florida. The group has made multiple requests of FPL to re-open the swamp and address the deteriorating condition of the area they promised to preserve.

Video, call for support, and much more after the fold!

Video on the standoff on the mainstream news

short video clip of Barley Barber and the 1100 year old bald cypress

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Following a five day standoff, six activists entered the swamp through a public waterway and chained themselves to trees. Eleven other activists were swept up by the police in a frivolous attempt to quell the protest. Currently, Everglades Earth First! is confronted with the immediate need to raise $18,000 to bail these courageous activists out of Martin County jail.

Direct action is a community effort that goes well beyond the risk of arrest. It requires broad support from those who wish to see grassroots efforts succeed. We hope to go to the jail on Monday with the funds to bail all seventeen activists out. We know times are tough but if everyone pitches in we can ensure that these folks don’t sit in jail for the next thirty days. Can you contribute to this effort? Just go to our website at www.evergladesearthfirst.org/ and click on the “Donate” paypal link on the left hand side of the page or make out a check to Everglades Earth First and send it to 822 N C Street, Lake Worth, FL 33460

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“I do not want to be arrested, but I will take the risk in order to raise awareness about the slow death that is occurring in the Barley Barber Swamp,” said Stevie Lowe a Palm Beach County resident who is now in custody for trespassing into the closed swamp. “When FPL took ownership of this landmark they promised to preserve the old growth. They have not. They have expanded their power plant facility which has drained the swamp of its water and is causing it to die.”

Noting the expansion of FPL power plants in the region, another arrested activist Ben Korn stated; “FPL has placed the two largest fossil fuel power plants in the entire country between Lake Okeechobee and the Loxahatchee River. They have not provided full environmental impact statements for either facility which drain water from the aquifer and release mercury contaminants. In seeing the harm done to Barley Barber, we reiterate our concern for the impact the West County Energy Center will have on the Loxahatchee River Basin and the greater Everglades.”

Activist Russ McSpadden further added that “FPL must be held accountable. If the elected officials and state agencies assigned to protect our wetlands will not do their job, then we must do everything in our power to help save these precious areas. Our actions are already bearing fruit. FPL has now promised to reopen the swamp in 2010. We intend to hold them to their word and push for an early opening for scientific monitoring and will continue our fight against the West County Energy Center.”

Members of the group will be outside Martin County Jail this evening for press comments.

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