Idaho: Regional actions commemorate Lac-Mégantic and Mosier oil train disasters

cross-posted from Wild Idaho Rising Tide.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 24, 2020

Media contact:

Helen Yost, Wild Idaho Rising Tide

wild.idaho.rising.tide@gmail.com, 208-301-8039

June 25 to July 2: Stop Oil Trains 2020

Regional actions commemorate Lac-Mégantic and Mosier oil train disasters

Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), 350 Seattle, Occupy, and allied, inland Northwest activists invite participation in the seventh annual, Stop Oil Trains week of events on Thursday, June 25, through July 2, honoring the 47 lives lost and downtowns devastated by oil train derailments, spills, fires, and explosions in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, on July 6, 2013, in Mosier, Oregon, on June 3, 2016, and potentially in all rail corridor, frontline communities threatened by the risks and pollution of crude oil pipelines-on-rails.  Since the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, dozens of similar accidents have wrecked public and environmental health and safety and the global climate – more than in the previous four decades.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway and Union Pacific Railroad haul up to 30 trains every week of volatile, Bakken shale oil and sinkable, Alberta tar sands, along and over invaluable, Northwest rivers, lakes, and tributaries.  More than 90 percent of these shipments traverse railroad bridges above downtown Sandpoint and Spokane and almost one mile over Idaho’s largest, deepest lake, Pend Oreille.  Adjacent to this current rail line, BNSF has commenced driving 1000-plus piles into train-spewed, lake and stream bed, coal deposits, threatened bull trout critical habitat, and regional, lake and aquifer water, to construct three permanent, parallel, second (and later third) railroad bridges, two temporary, work spans, and two miles of doubled tracks, for bi-directional, more derailment-vulnerable, oil and other train traffic.

In appreciation and solidarity with indigenous and grassroots, fossil fuels resistance across North America, concerned citizens continue to actively oppose coal, oil, tar sands, and hazardous materials trains, through public vigilance, education, demonstrations, comments, hearings, and litigation during the last decade.  Event organizing groups welcome everyone at these summer activities sharing effective skills and coordinating powerful actions that demand immediate bans of further fossil fuels infrastructure, extraction, transportation, and production.  For additional event and ongoing issue information, see the attached flyer and visit WIRT facebook and website pages.

https://www.facebook.com/events/290068958800089

https://wildidahorisingtide.org/2020/06/22/stop-oil-trains-2020

Train Watch Workshop

Thursday, June 25, 6 pm, Sandpoint

David Perk of 350 Seattle will present an interactive, registration-required, teleconferenced, training session describing methods for documenting and reporting regional, westbound, fossil fuels-by-rail traffic, and providing images, insights, and resources online and at the Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street.

Spotlight Message Projection

Friday, June 26, 9 pm, Sandpoint & Saturday, June 27, 9 pm, Spokane

Occupy and WIRT volunteers will briefly display spotlighted, environmental and social justice messages on tall, downtown buildings within “bomb train blast zones,” while discussing Northwest fossil fuels issues with resident and visitor passersby observing the light show.

#No2ndBridge Outreach & March

Saturday, June 27, 9 am to 1 pm & 2 pm, Sandpoint

WIRT will host an outreach table under the Farmin Park clock at Third and Main streets, during Farmers Market, circulating the #No2ndBridge petition and other material, and offering updates on Northwest oil and coal trains, terminals, and railroad bridges.  Starting at 2 pm, protesters of oil trains and railroad bridge expansion will gather and walk with COVID-19 face masks, signs, and banners to Dog Beach Park and the U.S. Highway 95, pedestrian Long Bridge.

#No2ndBridge Petition Delivery

Week of Monday, June 29, Coeur d’Alene & Sandpoint

Volunteers will bring the hundreds of signatures and remarks of the print and online, informal Petition to Deny and Revoke Permits for the BNSF Sandpoint Junction Connector Project, to the federal, state, and local agencies responsible for permit decisions and insufficient reviews of the significant, harmful impacts of BNSF’s intensifying, north Idaho, bridge and track construction and operation.

https://petitions.moveon.org/sign/petition-to-deny-revoke

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Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) confronts the root causes of climate change, water degradation, and air pollution, by asserting direct actions and promoting locally organized solutions, in solidarity with frontline communities of resistance and an international, volunteer, grassroots network of activists.

Rising Tide North America Statement of Solidarity with Minneapolis

Rising Tide North America Statement of Solidarity with Minneapolis

In response to police murder of George Floyd and the subsequent anti-police uprising in the streets of Minneapolis, Rising Tide North America issues the following statement:

“Rising Tide North America is continental network of climate justice groups and individuals challenging the root causes of climate change and for social, environmental and climate justice. We believe that 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, we work toward the empowerment of marginalized communities and the dismantling of the systems of oppression that keep us divided.

Rising Tide North America stands in solidarity with the community of Minneapolis and communities everywhere in the struggle for racial justice and against state violence. We stand in solidarity with the right of communities to express their grief and rage, and to take action for justice.

We call for the immediate de-escalation of militarized policing, for abolition of the police state, accountability, and safety in our communities.

Our fight for climate justice is inextricably connected with racial justice. We cannot have the one without the other.”

Please donate here to support people on the ground in the Twin Cities:

  1. The Black Visions Collective, a group in Minneapolis on the ground helping keep people in the streets, shaping local demands and building a long-haul political home for Black people in Minnesota;
  2. the Minnesota Freedom Fund, one of many bail and legal funds for those arrested in the Minneapolis uprising;
  3. George Floyd’s family GoFundMe page, set up for his memorial.
  4. Reclaim the Block which works to defund the police and decrease police budgets.

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Appalachia: Pipeline Fighters Greet Mountain Valley Pipeline Reps With Demo

cross-posted from Appalachians Against Pipelines

pic via Appalachians Against Pipelines

“Yesterday, on day 619 of the Yellow Finch tree sits blockading the path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline — representatives of MVP met with representatives of the local soil and erosion control board on Yellow Finch Road.

Residents of the blockade greeted the meeting in the road with banners proclaiming, “STOP WORK” and “DOOM TO THE PIPELINE.” The DEQ representative showed little concern for the sediment accumulation that was pointed out by local representatives, and DEQ seemed overall frustrated by any requests made of MVP in the meeting.

MVP’s head of security Shithead Steve and his sidekick Willy were present to supervise the meeting and generally bring down environmental conditions wherever they go.”

Donate to support the tree sits at Yellow Finch and ongoing resistance to the Mountain Valley Pipeline: bit.ly/supportmvpresistance

pic via Appalachians Against Pipelines

pic via Appalachians Against Pipelines

Vancouver, BC: “People’s Strike – Free Them All!”

by Ananda Lee Tan

People’s Strike – Free Them All!

Environmental Justice means we stand with the most vulnerable

Attended a Prisoner Solidarity car demonstration yesterday, organized by some brilliant comrades I’ve met in recent years, folks who are rocking the organizing of grassroots movement at the intersections of solidarity, mutual aid and justice.

Between learning about strategy, efficacy and opportunity of creative action in times of systems failure, and a commitment to EJ principles that requires us to act in solidarity with those most vulnerable in our midst, I was looking forward to this noise demonstration, as a critical stand of our People’s Strike that began on May Day.

As often happens in life, this protest turned out far more revealing than anticipated, insofar as being reminded of past lessons to guide our vision and direction forward.

In caravan with a dozen vehicles, we drove around the Mission Federal Penitentiary, where nearly half (over 120) of the prisoners have tested positive for Covid-19 so far, the highest concentration of the virus in any Canadian prison. While the government only recently started allowing sick prisoners to access masks, safety measures and some medical attention, we learned that many prisoners are not being allowed to wear their masks because some guards have made lame complaints about not being able to identify individuals with masks on.

What is most offensive is that these prisoners were largely exposed to the Coronavirus from the prison guards bringing the virus into the facility from the outside world – WTF!

And while we watched a number of guards behind the barbed wired fences stumble around in bulky hazardous material suits, full face masks and other protective gear, we also learned that unions representing staff at this prison had struggled with the prison authorities to provide protective gear to even the prison staff for weeks!

Corrections Services Canada staff who engaged us had to be strongly reminded to keep their distance from people during the action, when they walked right up to within a foot of individuals and attempted to film folks and get their names. After being chastised for this violation of safe-distancing practice, and being reminded they were on unceded territories of the Sto:lo and Kwantlen First Nations, the CSC guards retreated to a safe distance to continue filming.

We honked car horns, waved signs and chanted solidarity messages to let inmates know they are not forgotten and that we are concerned for their plight. “Prisons are Barbaric, Free them All” seemed to resonate with those of chanting.

And many of the prisoners on the inside hollered back, waving towels and clothing through the bars of their windows, while banging on plates, window grates and makeshift drums. It was immediately evident why we needed to be here, letting these members of our family know that there are many of us who care. And that they all deserved medical attention, protection from the virus, and ultimately, far more humane, compassionate and fair conditions for treatment, healing and transformative (not punitive) justice.

In recent years, the racialized underpinnings of mass incarceration alongside a growing grassroots movement for decarceration and prison abolition has added depth and layers to our movement for environmental justice. Like our frontline struggles to protect communities from the ravages of oil and gas pipelines, toxic smokestacks and other polluting industries, the siting of new prisons in black, brown and poor communities already overburdened by industrial pollution has been clearly evidenced by many EJ organizers. Also evident is the growth of the prison complex closely following the colonial, petro chemical state’s efforts to keep a critical mass of black, brown, Indigenous and migrant folks marginalized in poverty, in illness and in crime.

As Covid-19 forces us to examine critical design flaws of the colonial extractive economy driving this pandemic, and the corporate welfare state that steals the funds we need to protect our most vulnerable, we need to assess what structures and safeguards need to replace these decrepit systems, so that we are better prepared for future waves of such ecological crises. It’s clear we need to replace the prison/police complex, with our own democratic institutions for transformative and healing justice, where the root causes of people’s pain, trauma and illness are tackled with holistic strategies of healing, care and protection. And while easily said, there is no denying the challenges we’ll face, with all the contradictions and conflicts that make up societal values and visceral responses to matters of crime, punishment, vengeance, reparations and justice.

 

Fortunately, the prison abolition movement has a long, vibrant and visionary history, even in this remote corner of Turtle Island.

 

Towards the end of the action, I had the opportunity to hold a banner made by the late, inspiring prison abolitionist Claire Culhane, over two decades ago. I first connected with Claire when I was incarcerated at the Oakalla Prison in 88’ – after being arrested for a forest defense blockade. When Claire learned that the Prison Superintendent was withholding my mail and visitor privileges, she wrote a strong letter chastising the prison boss for violating my rights. The morning after, a stack of letters and small packages were delivered to my cell, with Claire’s aerogram on top of the pile. She had ended the letter saying she’d only be satisfied that corrective measures had been taken, once she could confirm my receipt of her letter. I’ve never forgotten the distinct feeling from reading that letter, the warmth of knowing there were folks on the outside that cared.

As we drove away from the Mission Prison yesterday, one of the prisoners hung a towel outside their bars, with the words THANK YOU scrawled across it.

Environmental Justice requires that we stand up and protect those most marginalized and vulnerable in our society, starting with our elders, our poor, our sick and those suffering from multi-generational trauma, our criminalized and incarcerated.

We need to build and sustain pressure on government and prison establishment to protect all family from Covid-19, provide clemency and immediate release of prisoners, detainees and prison staff – to prevent illness, death and further spread of contagion.

As I dozed off last night, I could hear my Mother voice whisper “when our bodies take action, our hearts remember the purpose and pathways that our minds need to follow.” 

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