St. Louis 99% Protests Peabody Coal Shareholder Meeting, Demand Company Pay Fair Share

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 1, 2012

CONTACT: Cathy Sherwin – 314-452-2179

St. Louis 99% Protests Peabody Coal Shareholder Meeting, Demand Company Pay Fair Share

New Wave of 99% Activism Hold Mega Corporations Accountable Over Tax Dodging

(St. Louis) – Today the 99% of St. Louis joined growing national protests at corporate shareholder meetings today by voicing disapproval of tax dodging practices both inside and outside the Peabody Coal shareholder meeting.  Several frustrated shareholders attended the meeting while over one hundred other protestors rallied outside, brandishing signs that highlighted the impact of corporate tax dodging on federal program spending in Missouri.

We are here today to stand up against corporate power,” said Colleen Kelly.  “Rather than contributing to the common good, corporations would rather buy off politicians and make obscene profits.  That cannot stand; we are here today calling for a different kind of society.”

Over the past three years, Peabody Energy made $1 billion in domestic profits, but paid $0 in federal income taxes in 2008 and 2009, and $0 in state income taxes in 2008 and 2010. According to the corporation’s annual report, it plans to pay a tax rate of about 26% this year—well below the federal rate of 35%. In addition, 2 of the last 3 years Peabody has paid more to lobbyists and groups like ALEC than taxes.

If Peabody Coal had paid its fair share in 2010, 326 more children could have had access to the Head Start program, 280 Missourians would have had the medical care they needed, or Missouri could have seen an increase of over $30,000 in disability compensation for veterans.

“I pay my taxes-Peabody Coal should too,” said Zach Chasnoff, a local small business owner,  “Peabody’s refusal to pay its fair share of taxes has real consequences for communities like mine – cuts to critical public services that keep out communities safe, serve our veterans and seniors, and make sure our kids get the quality education they need.  If Peabody Coal wants to be a world-class company, it should act like one by paying its taxes instead of lobbying for tax loopholes at the expense of our communities.”

With the economy continuing to punish working people and big corporations like Peabody Coal proving themselves unaccountable to the concerns of the 99%, working people and homeowners are descending on shareholder meetings to confront CEOs and other members of the 1% over their economic concerns.  Activists with the 99% Spring have disrupted or shut down several corporate shareholder meetings, including confronting executives with questions about compensation, lobbying, and tax dodging.  Here’s coverage from the GE shareholder meeting in Michigan and Wells Fargo in California.

After last year’s Occupy protests, this spring has seen a new wave of protests from voters and taxpayers against the rich corporations and politicians who have created an economic emergency for the 99%. The protests are being organized by The 99% Spring, a loose coalition of community and faith groups, unions, and progressive advocacy organizations.

For more information, visit www.the99power.org and www.99uniting.org.

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)
sparki@risingtidenorthamerica.org

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

###

Breaking: Two Arrested for Blocking Tar Sands “Megaloads” in Idaho

via Wild Idaho Rising Tide

News from Moscow Idaho, two arrested blockading Exxon’s megaload trucks bound with tar sands equipment for Alberta.

Early News: More Protesters Arrested for Blocking Tar Sands “Megaloads” in Moscow, Idaho

PRELIMINARY NEWS RELEASE

March 5, 2012

Four remarkably brave activists eluded the barricades and put their bodies between enormous Alberta tar sands upgrader parts and the ecological and climate devastation they will visit on us all.  As three of the last five of 78 ExxonMobil/Imperial Oil megaloads moved through downtown Moscow, Idaho, two protesters were arrested for linking arms and sitting down in Washington Street late Sunday night, March 4.  Police arrested two men but pulled two women to the side and detained and released them when the convoy passed.  The women did not appreciate the discrimination.

In a video by Joshua Yeidel of a KRFP Radio Free Moscow interview, We Won’t Be Accessories to Genocide: Moscow ID, March 4, 2012, one of the dismissed women explained her and her many allies’ motivations for marching, chanting, and even obstructing megaloads and risking arrest in cold and dark winter conditions.  “We’re not going to be accessories to genocide and climate change and increased cancer rates and all the other ecological damages that the tar sands intends to cause…”

Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and community members have gathered along Moscow streets to raise their voices in protest more than forty times since July 15, 2011, when the first transports of outsourced equipment rumbled up to 425,000 pounds on Highway 95 from the Port of Lewiston to the climate-wrecking tar sands.  Despite heavy, industry-sponsored police presence and closure of entire rights-of-way, some citizens have entered the crosswalks and streets to briefly block the shipments and halt their ecological death march, before state, county, and city police officers surround, harass, and drag them away and/or arrest them.

For a video shot by Joshua Yeidel of Sunday night’s action, Megaloads and Arrests, Moscow, Idaho, March 4, 2012, please see this video.

Fifty-one of Zachary Johnson’s photos of the March 4 demonstration are available on the Wild Idaho Rising Tide Facebook page

WIRT members extend our gratitude, love, and highest esteem to the four good souls who sacrificed their freedom to stand up for what’s right last night and to all of the supportive citizens on the streets and sidewalks, who spoke out and bore witness for a greener planet, healthier humanity, and a livable, worthwhile future for everyone’s descendants.  Please join friends and activists at 9 am on Monday, March 5, at the Latah County Courthouse for the arraignments of Cass Davis and Jim Prall.  One of their spouses reported that they are doing well in jail.  Besides this brief press release compiled from WIRT activists’ input, we will send a more comprehensive, campaign-inclusive story later today.

Meanwhile, for more news, photos, videos, and interviews, please see the WIRT Facebook page and web site/blog and listen to the Climate Justice Forum radio program on Mondays at 7:30 to 9:00 pm PST on KRFP Radio Free Moscow.

Rising Tide North America Statement of Solidarity with Occupy Oakland

Rising Tide North America Statement of Solidarity with Occupy Oakland

San Francisco, CA– The climate justice group Rising Tide North America released this statement in response to the brutal attack against Occupy Oakland on Jan. 28th by the Oakland Police Department and subsequent lies and misinformation being spread by Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and her administration:

“Rising Tide North America stands in solidarity with Occupy Oakland and the marchers in the Jan. 28 “Move In Day” march that was brutally attacked by the Oakland police department. The march was meant to turn an abandoned building into a social center that would provide services that the original Occupy Oakland encampment had provided to the local community before being evicted by the city of Oakland.

“The Oakland Police responded to the “Move-In Day” march with violence and brutality. They used batons and chemical weapons on peaceful protestors, and “kettling” techniques to detain and arrest over 250 marchers. Furthermore, stories are now emerging from the Alameda County jail that police and jailers brutalized detained Occupy Oakland marchers, refused to provide necessary medication and medical treatment and denied them access to legal counsel.

“Oakland Mayor Jean Quan has also begun a media campaign calling on Occupy Wall Street leaders to “disown” Occupy Oakland. But instead Quan’s actions show how truly out of touch she is with the city of Oakland and the country at large. While Oakland schools are being closed and families evicted, Quan’s police force responds to the non-violent opening of a community center with rubber bullets and tear gas. While corporations are handed the keys to the city by Mayor Quan, non-violent protestors are brutalized while in custody.

“The same corporate state that is profiting from foreclosures upon low income people’s homes, laying off workers and eliminating essential public services is also profiting from the climate crisis and rampant environmental destruction. As we have watched uprisings from the Middle East to the Midwest, the actions and words of ordinary people are beginning to be heard more and more. Singling out Occupy Oakland for prosecution and misinformation only further pierces the veil our elected and corporate leaders have over the general public.

“The power of all Occupys to stand up to police and state pressure in defiance of Corporate America gives us hope. Rising Tide North America supports the Occupy Movement and will continue to stand in solidarity with them. In the words of the International Workers of the World: “An injury to one is an injury to all.

###

Rising Tide North America is an all volunteer climate justice network with over 50 chapters and local contacts that works to confront the root causes of climate change.