F.B.I. Targets Peaceful Anti-Fracking & Rising Tide Activists, Washington Post Reveals

March 11, 2012
For Immediate Release
Rising Tide Press Contact:
Scott Parkin, 415-235-0596 (mobile)

F.B.I. targets peaceful anti-fracking and Rising Tide activists, Washington Post reveals

Rising Tide North Texas subject of intimidation campaign by federal government

In today’s Washington Post, it was revealed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been investigating peaceful climate and anti-fracking activists as a threat. In response to anonymous complaints Rising Tide North Texas, a part of the Rising Tide North America network, has been the subject of an ongoing FBI investigation. The FBI has visited and called for an interview Rising Tide organizer, University of North Texas (UNT) student and a marine veteran of the Afghan war Ben Kessler, as well as UNT philosophy professor Adam Briggle.

“If all I have done to be investigated as a threat is to peacefully express my opinions, then we are in serious trouble,” said Ben Kessler. “Activism is not terrorism. The only dangerous threat in North Texas is the threat that hydro-fracturing, or “fracking,” has on the health and lives of the residents of our communities.”

The article also revealed cooperation between the F.B.I. and local police in Moscow Idaho around repeated protests organized by Wild Idaho Rising Tide around the tar sands heavy haul truck shipments.

Here is the article:

As eco-terrorism wanes, governments still target activist groups seen as threat

By Juliet Eilperin, Updated: Saturday, March 10, 5:12 PM

Ben Kessler, a student at the University of North Texas and an environmental activist, was more than a little surprised that an FBI agent questioned his philosophy professor and acquaintances about his whereabouts and his sign-waving activities aimed at influencing local gas drilling rules.“It was scary,” said Kessler, who is a national organizer for the nonviolent environmental group Rising Tide North America. He said the agent approached him this past fall and said that the FBI had received an anonymous complaint and were looking into his opposition to hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking.” The bureau respected free speech, the agent told him, but was “worried about things being taken to an extreme level.”

Even as environmental and animal rights extremism in the United States is on the wane, officials at the federal, state and local level are continuing to target groups they have labeled a threat to national security, according to interviews with numerous activists, internal FBI documents and a survey of legislative initiatives across the country.

Iowa Gov. Terry Brandstad (R) signed a law this month, backed by the farm lobby, that makes it a crime to pose as an employee or use other methods of misrepresentation to get access to operations in an attempt to expose animal cruelty. Utah passed a similar bill, nicknamed an “ag-gag” law, on Wednesday. Last month, Victor VanOrden, an activist in his mid-20s, received the maximum sentence of five years in prison under a separate Iowa law for attempting to free minks from one of the state’s fur farms.

At the same time, though, acts that might be defined as eco-terrorism are down. In recent years, the broad definition has included arson, setting mink free at fur farms, campaigns to financially bankrupt animal testing firms and protests in front of the homes of some of those firms’ executives.

Michael Whelan, executive director of Fur Commission USA, estimated that in the 1990s “there were close to 20 attacks per year on our farmers” and that since 2003 there have been fewer than two attacks a year on American mink farms.

“Overall we’ve seen a decline in activity, in terms of violent criminal activity,” FBI intelligence analyst Erin Weller said in an interview.

FBI officials say two factors contribute to the reduced threat.

One is their successful prosecutions of several activists, in particular the 15 convictions in 2007 for members of the Earth Liberation Front. The national sweep of radical environmentalists was chronicled in the Oscar-nominated 2011 documentary “If a Tree Falls.” Not only did several ELF members get long prison sentences — Stanislas Meyerhoff got 13 years — but also many activists testified against others to get lighter punishments.

“That’s had an impact on the movement as a whole,” Weller said.

The second factor is that environmental and animal rights activists may view a Democratic administration as more sympathetic to their goals and be less inclined to take radical steps.

“Obviously if you think there is going to be support for your position, you’re going to use legal means rather than illegal means,” Weller said.

Despite the decline in activity, the level of scrutiny has continued, say several who track state and federal enforcement.“There’s been very little change under the Obama administration,” said Will Potter, author of the book “Green is the New Red: An Insider’s Account of a Movement Under Siege.” After factoring in several state initiatives on top of federal enforcement, Potter said, “The political climate as a whole has gotten a lot worse.”
Read the rest of the article here


Five Lakota Arrested for Forming Blockade on Pine Ridge Reservation

Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Challenges.

PINE RIDGE INDIAN RESERVATION – Five Lakota were arrested Monday evening in Wanblee, South Dakota when they formed a blockade to halt a convoy of trucks going through the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

At issue was there were two trucks that appeared to be hauling pipes through the reservation on their way to Canada. The new trucks that were delivered in Texas from South Korea were carrying pipes used for tar sands pipeline. Totran Transportation Services, Inc., a Canadian company apparently wanted to avoid paying the state of South Dakota $50,000 per truck or $100,000 to use its state highways. Instead Totran Transportation thought

The two trucks marked “oversize load” on them had in its convoy several pick up vehicles that were first spotted on the reservation in the late afternoon.they would use the roads on the reservation. Some 75 Lakota thought otherwise.

Once alerted about the convoy and its whereabouts, Alex and Debra White Plume decided to go and stop it. They were joined by others who formed a human blockade.

The human blockage halted the trucks. The White Plumes were told by the truckers that they had corporate authority to utilize the BIA roads.

“There are actually a number of laws that should protect Indian tribes from those who cite corporate authority,”

said Charlotte Black Elk, a well known attorney activist from Manderson, South Dakota.

“I told them nicely we did not want any trouble,”

Alex White Plume told the Native News Network late Monday night.

“But we were determined not to let them use our roads. The chief of police for the tribe told me that he was told that the FBI was prepared to arrest me and pick me up and take me to jail in two white vans.”

White Plume and his wife, Debra and three others were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and taken to jail in Kyle, South Dakota. The others arrested were: Sam Long Black Cat, Andrew Ironshells and Terrel Ironshells. Several reports on social media reported that Tom Poor Bear, vice president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe was arrested. This proved to be not true.

The five arrested were released on the personal recognizance bond.

“I was the voice for my grandchildren,”

said an exhausted Debra White Plume from home after being released from jail. White Plume was arrested last summer in front of the White House while protesting the Keystone XL pipeline.

The Oglala Nation and all American Indian tribes in South Dakota have adamantly opposed the Keystone XL pipeline that was routed through the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Indian Reservations that would cross the Oglala Sioux Rural Water Supply System in two places.

Late Monday, it was reported the Eagle Butte Indian tribal council met to decide to form a human blockade on their reservations if the Trotran convoy attempts to come through their reservation which is north of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

cross-posted from Infoshop News:

Occupying the “Hot Zone” of Tar Sands Refinery in Colorado

Workers contracted by Suncor use vacuum trucks and absorbent material to suck up water mixed with an unidentified liquid leaking into Sand Creek north of downtown Denver on Nov. 30, 2011. (Craig F. Walker, The Denver Post )…Today, black goo is still seeping into waterways from Suncor Energy’s oil refinery north of Denver, and the latest tests show benzene levels 48 times the limit for drinking water, even downstream of the point at which Sand Creek flows into the South Platte River.

In an open letter, several organizations including Colorado American Indian Movement, Deep Green Resistance (DGR) Colorado, Front Range Rising Tide, 350.org, Occupy Denver and Boulder Food Rescue announce they coming together for a demonstration on Saturday, March 10th, with families from the local communities that are directly affected by the Commerce City Suncor refinery and against Suncor and their oil seep contaminating the Sand Creek and South Platte River:

“We are asking everyone concerned about our water, air, land and future to stand with us.

Over the last year, many people and various organizations have united to oppose the Alberta tar sands and the Keystone XL Pipeline, correctly recognizing these industrial projects as ecocidal insanity. Here in Colorado, oil from the tar sands is refined by Suncor Energy. By participating in the process of facilitating genocide against the aboriginal people of Alberta, Suncor Energy has toxified our air, land and water without end.

By bringing together active members of the Colorado community in coalition, we will align together to force Suncor to stop destroying and poisoning our world, both here in Colorado and in Canada.

On Saturday, March 10th, we will occupy the ‘hot zone’ on the shore of Sand Creek, where carcinogenic benzene from Suncor’s refinery has been seeping into the water. By occupying the hot zone, we hope to bring public attention to the fact that Suncor is killing Colorado communities, water and wildlife, and to force this industrial polluter to confront the effects of its actions. It is also our hope to form strong alliances with one another and begin to work in partnership so we can effectively move forward against Suncor’s unethical and irresponsible practices.

We will meet between 1:30 and 2:00pm at 5001 National Western Drive on Saturday, March 10th. From there, we will carpool to 64th Avenue and York Street, where we will park and walk to the site of the action at the confluence of Sand Creek and South Platte River. Food will be provided by Boulder Food Not Bombs, and representatives from various groups will be speaking. Be aware that fumes from the oil and the refinery can sometimes make the area uncomfortable for people with compromised respiratory systems.

It is our hope to see as many of you as possible at this demonstration. Suncor is actively destroying our Mother Earth, and must be stopped.  Suncor’s role in the tar sands is contributing to a devastated climate and is harming indigenous communities in Canada as well as people living in local communities in Colorado. Please join us on March 10th to stand against these injustices and degradation of our Earth.”

Ordinary Heroes Standing Up to Big Oil!

Dear Friends-

Besides the story of the massive campaign to stop the Keystone XL pipeline, do you know about the other battles going on around the U.S. to stop the tar sands?

Since last summer, the small town of Moscow, Idaho has seen numerous rowdy protests and civil disobedience, organized by Wild Idaho Rising Tide, in opposition to Exxon’s “megaloads” carrying pieces of tar sands equipment bound for Alberta.

This week, Moscow residents stood up again to Big Oil again and four of them put their bodies on the line blocking Exxon’s heavy hauls.

People in Idaho need our help. They don’t have big foundations or big green organizations giving them tons of money. They have us. An informal network of people standing with them.

It’s time for all of us to become ordinary heroes fighting back against Big Oil.

Support The Fight Against the Tar Sands, Support Wild Idaho Rising Tide!