Water Protectors Lock to Enbridge Office Gates, Work Halted

photo via Ginew

Cross-posted from Stop Line 3

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
August 19, 2019
Contact: ginew@protonmail.com
ayse@ran.org

Water Protectors Lock to Enbridge Office Gates, Work Halted

Bemidji, MN — In the early morning, 6 water protectors locked to the gates of a key Enbridge office in Bemidji, MN in protest of proposed tar sands pipeline project Line 3. 2 chained their necks to the gate, risking personal safety for the hundreds of watersheds Enbridge proposes to send nearly 1M barrels of tar sands from Alberta through on its way to the shores of Lake Superior.

Enbridge responded by closing its office for the day.

Wild rice season is nearing, in which Anishinaabe people will take to their canoes to harvest the sacred food that is at the heart of Anishinaabe culture. Enbridge plans to send tar sands through dozens of wild rice watersheds, irrevocably impacting its growth and survival.

Line 3 is one proposed infrastructure project out of the Alberta tar sands, alongside TransCanada’s Keystone XL and Kinder Morgan’s TransMountain pipelines. Tar sands is the dirtiest fossil fuel in the world. Weeks ago, the Teck Frontier Mine, a proposed tar sands expansion twice the size of Vancouver was recommended by a board of Canadian environmental regulators.

“As an able-bodied and willing person, it is my duty to stand with Anishinaabe people who are putting their lives on the line every day standing up for all of us, for all of our water.” Kieran Cuddy said, while locked to the front gate of Enbridge’s office.

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Virginia: Mountain Valley Pipeline Fighters Disrupt Construction

Photo via Appalachians Against Pipelines.

Yesterday, two pipeline fighters locked themselves to construction equipment at a Mountain Valley Pipeline work site in Franklin County, VA, preventing work at the site. The banners read, “EARTH IS ON FIRE, TURN OFF THE GAS” and “¡SOLIDARIDAD CON PUERTO RICO!”

When asked why he’s taking action, Cricket, one of the people locked to equipment today, said, “Lots of things bring us here, I think. Speaking for myself, I’m currently going to school for integrated science education, which means my long term life plan is to become a science teacher. Hopefully my blossoming legal record after this doesn’t mess that up for me, but those goals stem from wanting to empower and support the wellbeing of future generations. Those commitments that call me to education are the same commitments that being me here, trying to protect the earth from another pipeline that will contribute to the mass extinction we’re going through right now.

“Unless we can stop climate chaos, the students I teach won’t have a planet to learn about, or potable water to drink, or even clean air to breathe, for that matter. So no matter what happens after this, I know I’m doing something that I will be proud to explain for the rest of my life. Clove and I are expressing care for the future.”

Clove, the other person locked on site, stated the following in reference to the “¡SOLIDARIDAD CON PUERTO RICO!” banner: “One indicator of climate destabilization is the increasing severity of hurricanes. In 2017, Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico as well as other surrounding places. After the hurricane, most of the disaster relief came from the people first impacted. This shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone — the first responders are always those first impacted — and it also shouldn’t come as a surprise that the government turned their noses up at the people struggling to keep themselves and their communities alive in the wake of that disaster.

“Since that hurricane, we’ve seen communities take care of each other in ways the government won’t, and now more than ever we’re seeing people take that power and use it to reject that government all together. We want to show love and support to the folks in Puerto Rico that are fighting for autonomy in their lives after a disaster, on a planet that’s only going to have more disasters in the near future.”

Clove and Cricket prevented Mountain Valley Pipeline work at the Franklin County site for 6.5 hours! They were then extracted from their blockade and arrested. One friend was charged with 2 misdemeanors and released on $1,500 bail. The other was arraigned but is being held without bail.

Meanwhile, today is day 345 at the Yellow Finch tree sit blockade near Elliston, VA!

Donate to support Cricket, Clove, Yellow Finch, and ongoing resistance to the MVP: bit.ly/supportmvpresistance

 

Two Forest Defenders Blockade Sawmill in Scotia, California

pics from Save the Mattole

Cross-posted from Save the Mattole

Bike blockades deployed today at HRC’s Scotia sawmill, with two forest defenders locking themselves to piles of bicycles, blocking the north and south gates into the mill. The human-bicycle team effort was able to turn away several log trucks heading into the mill before a small army of Humboldt County Sheriff deputies arrived on the scene. Both blockaders refused to unlock, and it took several deputies to carry both the bikes and the blockaders to the side of the road, where they were cited and released (all the bicycles were also released to continue their work against climate change).

Logging trucks blocked out by forest defender blockade.

Unfortunately, in the hubbub, a comrade who was standing by to support was arrested by none other than Conan Moore – the same sheriff who brutalized peaceful protesters in June and later personally extracted blockaders from a monopod and another gate lockdown. The person who was arrested was on the phone with local media when they were handcuffed. They were leaving the property, following orders to disperse. Now, they are being held in Humboldt County Jail on a $25,000 bail, with the deputies recommending felony charges. We are calling for the immediate release of this nonviolent forest defender!

Support arrestees by donating to our legal fund: tinyurl.com/helpforestaresstees

And most of all, support us by joining our efforts! Email efhum@riseup.net

Guardian: FBI and police revealed to be monitoring Oregon pipeline fighters

cross-posted from the Guardian

By Will Parrish and Jason Wilson

August 8, 2019

Emails show the latest example of environmental groups facing increased surveillance by law enforcement

Law enforcement groups, including the FBI, have been monitoring opponents of a natural gas infrastructure project in Oregon and circulated intelligence to an email list that included a Republican-aligned anti-environmental PR operative, emails obtained by the Guardian show.

The South Western Oregon Joint Task Force (SWOJTF) and its members were monitoring opponents of the Jordan Cove energy project, a proposal by the Canadian energy company Pembina to build the first-ever liquefied natural gas terminal on the US west coast, as well as a new 232-mile pipeline that would carry fracked natural gas to the port of Coos Bay.

The Trump administration has named Jordan Cove as one of its highest-priority infrastructure projects. Jordan Cove opponents have raised concerns about the project’s significant environmental impacts, impacts on public lands, indigenous rights and climate change.

The emails, obtained via open records requests, reflect the increased scrutiny and surveillance to which law enforcement agencies are often subjecting indigenous and environmental groups, activists say.

It also comes amid an uptick in civil disobedience and direct actions challenging fossil fuel infrastructure projects – particularly in the wake of the Native American-led struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline in 2016 and 2017. They also reflect a nationwide tendency for rightwing partisans, law enforcement agencies and the fossil fuel industry to ally with one another in the suppression of such activities.

An email distribution list associated with the taskforce included addressees in the FBI, the Bureau of Land Management, the Department of Justice (DoJ), the National Forest Service (NFS), Oregon state police (OSP), and various Oregon municipal police and sheriffs departments. But some of its recipients are outside any government agency, most notably Mark Pfeifle, the CEO of the political consultancy Off The Record Strategies.

Pfeifle was previously a Bush administration PR adviser on national security. More recently, Pfeifle worked with law enforcement on a counter-information operation against the Dakota Access Pipeline protesters.

When contacted by telephone about the Jordan Cove project, Mr Pfeifle said “I just don’t have anything for you, I’m not up on it,” before ending the conversation.

Emails circulated on the SWOJTF email list include activists’ social media posts, emails and rally announcements.

Pfeifle appeared on the distribution list of a November 2018 email from the list’s apparent keeper, the Coos county deputy sheriff, Bryan Valencia, which described a recent protest action by Southern Oregon Rising Tide, a direct action climate justice group.

“These are the tactics that are currently being used to forcibly insert their narrative into the conversation,” Valencia wrote. He noted: “There has long been a call for a ‘Standing Rock’ action by the Klamath Tribe in Klamath county.”

Don Gentry, the chairman of the Klamath Tribes, said Valencia’s characterization is false – his tribe has never put out such a call. “We’re working through the readily available channels to get this project stopped,” Gentry said.

In January 2019, Valencia circulated information on Facebook event attendance to a smaller group of SWOJTF officers, related to an upcoming Oregon department of state lands hearing, to some members of the taskforce, despite stating there was a “lack of a criminal nexus”.

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The Coos county sheriffs office (CCSO) public information officer, Gabriel Fabrizio, wrote in response to emailed questions that SWOJTF had been set up to “ensure a multi-agency approach to any and all contingencies”.

Fabrizio added: “As potential dangers to the safety of the citizens and businesses of the county are identified, we monitor groups as long as necessary to determine if they will become a danger to others. Once it’s determined a group has not or likely will not conduct criminal activity, we discontinue monitoring.”

He also wrote that “Mr Pfiefle has no relationship with the Coos county sheriff’s office or with the SWOJTF. He was involved with training that was presented by the National Sheriffs Association to emergency responders in Coos county.”

He also denied that SWOJTF had been engaged in surveillance. “Surveillance implies an active gathering of data and images, and any monitoring we have conducted has been passive, simply watching for information,” he said.

The records reveal the existence of other law enforcement intelligence activities related to monitoring the work of environmental groups.

In a November 2018 email to Valencia, a BLM law enforcement analyst noted her role in the “Forest Intelligence Group (FIG)” that is also tracking activists. “I appreciate anything you find, and I am glad to share likewise,” the analyst wrote.

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Fabrizio said in an email response to questions that FIG “began its life as a timber investigators meeting in the mid eighties … It has been sharing information about activity including criminal activity in our regions forests since that time. The intent of the group is to identify activities that may require sharing of resources or have an impact across traditional jurisdictional lines.”

In a telephone interview, a spokesman for the US attorney in Oregon also confirmed the existence of another body mentioned in the emails: a “domestic terrorism working group” led by the assistant US attorney, Craig Gabriel, that meets “roughly quarterly” in Portland. He said that the group was mostly made up of federal agencies but included some local law enforcement.

“It’s really just to discuss any current issues in the domestic terrorism arena. This could be local issues, all the way up to international issues,” the spokesman said. He said protest movements would be “within the scope” of its discussions even if no criminal activity had occurred.

In another email exchange, an FBI agent, Michael Frost, offered “open source and social media training” to the Coos county sheriffs, writing to Valencia that “with the significant social media presence of the anti-pipeline individuals, I figured your office would be a good place to start”.

The flyer for the training promises law enforcement officers information on tracking individuals online while minimizing their “digital footprint”, and indicates that it would be hosted by yet another law enforcement “task force”: the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) in Portland.

A spokesperson for the FBI’s Portland field office said in an email: “The FBI does not comment on what may or may not be an ongoing investigation. However, it is important to note that the FBI can never initiate an investigation based solely on first amendment-protected activity.”

On the training session, the spokesperson said: “The FBI’s Portland field office regularly provides training to local law enforcement agencies. This training covers a wide range of law enforcement topics, including appropriate and legal use of open source material in investigations.”

Fabrizio said that the offer of training had not been taken up.

Although Coos Bay is located more than 200 miles away from Portland, the Portland police bureau (PPB) officer Andrew Hearst is also part of the SWOJTF email list. Hearst told Valencia in January 2019: “As always if we hear anything about our people heading down to your area we will alert asap.”

Jordan Cove opponents expressed alarm upon learning about the level of scrutiny they are receiving from so many different law enforcement entities.

“It is outrageous that our Oregon public agencies are actually working to plan how to stifle the very southern Oregonians whose drinking water, property and communities are threatened by this project,” said Sylvia Mangan, a retired public health nurse who lives on one of the proposed pipeline routes.

Asked why Pfeifle was included in the distribution of intelligence on protest groups, Fabrizio wrote: “Open source information is posted on public forums and not considered sensitive.”

He added: “Anyone who may be affected by potential actions are involved as an effort in community outreach and according to the tenets of community policing.”

Pfeifle previously described his work with law enforcement at Standing Rock during a 2017 presentation to oil, gas and banking executives during a pipeline conference in Houston. “A lot of things that we were doing were being done to put a marker down for the protesters. And, ‘OK, if you’re going to go protest somewhere? There’s going to be consequences from it.’”

In an email comment, the ACLU of Oregon questioned the legality of the activities revealed in the emails.

“Monitoring and compiling information about Oregonians’ political or social views, activities, or associations violates Oregon law,” said the spokeswoman Sarah Armstrong.

Lauren Regan, the executive director of the Oregon-based Civil Liberties Defense Center, says the SWOJTF’s activities reflect a nationwide trend. “Police and corporations are working together to suppress movements against fossil fuels,” she said.

Holly Mills of Southern Oregon Rising Tide, a group regularly subjected to scrutiny in the records obtained by the Guardian, said: “We know that the state, police and corporations have often tried to stop movements like this one by using fear as a tactic and repressing dissent. We have prepared ourselves with this in mind, and we communicate on social media and over email with the assumption that cops might be reading.”