BNSF Rails in Seattle Blockaded in Solidarity with Wet’suwet’en

cross-posted from Puget Sound Anarchists

On a sunny Sunday afternoon about 50 of us gathered in occupied Duwamish territory to blockade BNSF railroad tracks along Seattle’s waterfront at the railroad crossing of Broad St. & Alaskan Way in a show of solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en Nation and countless others who have been fighting Canada’s drive to force Coastal Gas Link’s gas-pipeline by way of police (RCMP) force. Our intentions differed from that of opportunistic NGOs; our aim was to cause as much economic disruption as possible without a single arrest.

via Puget Sound Anarchists

We arrived on the railroad tracks just after 1:00pm with banners, signs and songs. A train with containers had just passed before we arrived, confirming to us that capital moves 24/7 and that we would be given our chance to clog one of its many arteries. Many of us expected a quick and brutal police response, as is the Seattle Police Department (SPD) reputation. It wasn’t 15-20 minutes however until the first police officers pulled up in a car, spoke with one person to ask what was going on, and promptly drove off. We continued blocking the tracks and the atmosphere was jovial; everyone was talking with each other and laughter could be heard as we nervously waited to see what the police would do.

Over the next 30 minutes, police on bikes slowly began to gather on the sidewalk next to the tracks, but they remained fairly hands-off. We could see a train stopped on the tracks pointed in our direction and it became clear that we were impeding train traffic, a small success but a success all the same. Because this was a solidarity action, we decided to try to move down the tracks to get a photo of us right in front of the train. A squad of bike cops had amassed, and they blocked us from continuing down the tracks towards the train. This line of BNSF rail runs along a heavily trafficked street in downtown Seattle with the touristy waterfront, so we simply walked down the sidewalk to the next crossing. SPD rode their bikes down the tracks and blocked our access again, but now it was the cops that were blocking the train, not us.

We made it to the next crossing and held space on the tracks again, chanting “No pipelines, no invasion, Stop colonization!” Holding space in a semi-confrontational way, showing solidarity with the struggle for Indigenous sovereignty up North and abroad, singing and chanting, all of these things have felt impossible in Seattle for the last couple of years. We were allowed a brief moment of conflictual joy with friends and strangers alike. We laughed at the idea of the cops blocking the train for us.

via Puget Sound Anarchists

The police issued a dispersal order, so we slowly packed up and moved back to the sidewalk, singing and chanting, eventually dispersing ourselves. We successfully stopped BNSF traffic for an hour and a half. While many have used this tactic as an act of civil disobedience, holding out as long as possible until inevitable arrest, it was exciting to see what was possible with as little physical contact with the brutal SPD as possible. SPD’s crowd-control strategies over the years have put a stranglehold on our abilities to mobilize in the streets, resulting in a block of our imaginations as well. But today we experimented with what is possible with a word-of-mouth demonstration of solidarity. Not everything needs to be on the internet, we can successfully organize ourselves in ways that do not immediately invite the militarized hand of police repression.

Capital is a global phenomenon, and it moves over and through borders as such. The idea that we can’t show solidarity because we’re not in Canada is false. With the announcement that Canadian cargo has been re-routed to U.S. ports due to ongoing disruptions, we now know that this struggle can be opened up across the U.S.-Canada border, and beyond.

In solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en nation, all of the rail and port blockades across so-called Canada, and everyone taking to the streets. This is an important moment in anti-colonial struggle, and it will pass us by if we fail to grasp it.

-some anarchists from occupied Duwamish Territory

Rabble.Ca: Rail blockades are proving to be an effective non-violent response to state violence

cross-posted from Rabble.ca

via Rabble.ca

Rail blockades are proving to be an effective non-violent response to state violence

by Brent Patterson

In the early hours of February 6, militarized Canadian police began a five-day long assault on the unceded and sovereign territory of the Wet’suwet’en people in northern British Columbia to facilitate the construction of a fracked gas pipeline that lacks that nation’s consent.

Nine days later, Wet’suwet’en land defender Dinize Ste ohn tsiy tweeted that a heavy RCMP presence on Wet’suwet’en territory continues.

In response to this violation of the rule of law (notably the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples), Indigenous peoples and allies took to the rails to demand that the RCMP and TC Energy Coastal GasLink, the company behind the controversial pipeline, remove themselves from Wet’suwet’en territory.

Hours after the invasion began, the Mohawks established a blockade on the railway tracks near Belleville, Ontario. By Saturday, February 8, the Gitxsan had established a blockade on the railway line near New Hazelton, British Columbia.

Several other railway blockades were also soon established across the country by Indigenous peoples and allies including near Montreal, Quebec; Listuguj, Quebec; Headingley, Manitoba; Port Coquitlam, British Columbia; and Toronto, Ontario.

And this morning (Saturday, February 15), Climate Justice Toronto tweeted that the “2nd Largest Rail Classification Yard in Canada Blockaded” adding, “Folks have blockaded US-bound CN rail tracks in North York in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en!” That means that all trains going west to Hamilton, London, New York and Michigan are now blocked.

The impacts?

The Gitxsan blockade effectively shut down all activity at the Port of Prince Rupert, with more than 150 freight trains unable to move in or out of that port. Furthermore, 18 container ships in Prince Rupert and 48 ships in Vancouver could neither pick up or unload their shipments.

The Mohawk blockade resulted in the cancellation of all passenger travel between Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal and CN shutting down its operations in eastern Canada.

Mainstream media reports have highlighted some of the numbers: CN Rail said it transports more than $250 billion worth of goods annually; VIA Rail said it transported 5 million passengers across Canada in 2019; and that an eight-day CN Rail strike last year cost the economy between $1 billion and $2.2 billion, and CN $100 million in lost earnings.

Less reported in the news is that the railway system also transports about 300,000 barrels of oil (bitumen) everyday in this country and between 30-40 million tonnes of coal each year. And now mainstream media reports have focused on how municipal water systems may run out of chlorine to treat drinking water (without much, if any, contextualization about ongoing boil water advisories in Indigenous communities).

The reaction?

British Columbia’s NDP Premier John Horgan commented: “I respect everyone’s right to lawful protest but when you’re interfering with the operation of the economy at the ports and through the city here in the Lower Mainland, that becomes a challenge…”

Outgoing Conservative party Leader Andrew Scheer exclaimed: “These protesters, these activists, may have the luxury of spending days at a time at a blockade, but they need to check their privilege, they need to check their privilege and let people whose job depends on the railway system — small business, farmers — do their job.”

Walking Eagle News (a satire news website) mocked Scheer by tweeting: “Career politician who lives in taxpayer-funded house and whose party paid for his kid’s private school says Indigenous people blocking rail lines need to check their privilege.”

And Scheer’s possible successor as party leader Erin O’Toole released a video in which he said he “will fight to take back Canada” along with a tweet in which he said, “I will enforce the law and push back against eco-extremists.”

The theory of change

Do you remember politicians, transnational corporations and their lobby groups responding in this way to online petitions, letters to the editor, leafleting or rallies? No, not likely.  Is it instructive (and patronizing) to be told by politicians the acceptable ways to protest? Most definitely.

In April 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote from a jail cell: “Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored.”

We have a long way to go, perhaps, before the RCMP and Coastal GasLink are removed from Wet’suwet’en territories as the blockaders demand.

It is notable, however, that the Trudeau government has dispatched Minister of Indigenous Services Marc Miller to meet with the Mohawks this weekend and Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett to meet with the Gitxsan.

Political crisis/revolutionary moment?

A political crisis is created when there is no apparent answer to the situation. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated: “We are not the kind of country where politicians get to tell the police what to do in operational matters.”

And Transport Minister Marc Garneau said: “When injunctions are obtained by the train companies, it is up to the provinces. They are the ones who have the jurisdiction to act with respect to those injunctions. It is not the federal government.”

That said, police raids and injunctions aren’t likely to stop the exposure of blockades on the 49,422 kilometres of rail lines in this country.

The government’s hypocrisy about the rule of law (legal experts highlight that government actions have been in violation of Canada’s binding international law obligations and therefore illegal) or the opposition leader’s comment about “privilege” (when wealth accumulation in this country has been based on the dispossession of Indigenous people from their land and their continued immiseration) only serve to underscore the crisis.

Furthermore, Vancouver Island-based Mohawk scholar Gerald Taiaiake Alfred suggested this could even be a revolutionary moment.

He said: “I can remember saying 15, 20 years ago, that if we ever had a development in our movement where the power of Indigenous nationhood and Indigenous rights could be melded and brought together with the power of young Canadians who are committed to the environment and social justice, it would be revolutionary.”

It remains to be seen how this will all develop, but it is clear that an impactful non-violent strategy is now being employed to counter the state violence of both the police repression of unarmed Wet’suwet’en land defenders and the continued imposition of fossil fuel infrastructure that only deepens the global climate crisis.

Brent Patterson is a political activist and writer.

Hamilton,ON: Blockade in Solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en Nation

Cross-posted from Wet’suwet’en Strong: Hamilton in Solidarity

pics via https://twitter.com/RisingTideTor

BREAKING: Rail and Road Block in Hamilton in Solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en Nation

Dish With One Spoon Territory
Victoria St & Birge St

Hamilton, ON:“If we are serious about Indigenous rights and reconciliation, then we find ourselves in a time where we must position ourselves against the government to resist the state’s ongoing colonial practises. Unfortunately the state is corrupt and only understands money. Since we don’t have any, we must aim to cost them some.”

Those were the words of Trish Mills before approximately 100 people began blocking a key road and rail artery on Victoria Ave. N. this morning.

The group of more than a hundred Wet’suwet’en supporters began the day at JC Beemer Park before taking to the streets.

The Wet’suwet’en are at the centre of a dispute with industry as well as the provincial and federal government over the development of their lands. The Wet’suwet’en have never ceded nor surrendered their land, and point to a Supreme Court of Canada ruling (Delgamuukw v British Columbia, [1997]) that recognizes the sole discretion of territorial development belongs to the traditional Hereditary Chief and clan system – not band councils.

CGL has only obtained consent from band councils which were established by Canada under the Indian Act, often under duress.

On December 31, 2019 Justice Marguerite Church granted an interlocutory injunction, effectively criminalizing any individual trying to prevent industry from accessing or developing the territory. The RCMP has since set up an exclusion zone, controlling who can enter the area – including an attempt at restricting air space.

“Injunction and provincial permits aside, Canada has no jurisdiction or authority on unceded lands. Their interference with the Wet’suwet’en Nation on behalf of industry is appalling,” said Natali Montilla, one of the media spokespeople for the event. “We support the Chief’s demands: the Coastal GasLink project needs to be permanently stopped, and the RCMP must leave the territory immediately.“

As group members began settling in, sound equipment and food tables were set up as organizers promised hot food and drinks, live music, and public discussions and teach-ins for the afternoon.

Makwa, a media liaison for the event who is Nahua and Anishinaabe (Bear Clan), pushes for an even broader understanding: “Indigenous Nations across Turtle Island have been subjected to the same abuses, violence, and corruption that the Wet’suwet’en are facing now, so we’re also here to push for reparations for every single Indigenous Nation who has been subjected to colonial interference and violence.”

Montreal: Freeway Blockades in Solidarity with Wet’suwet’en

pic via MTL Counter-info

cross-posted from Montreal Counter-Info

In the middle of rush hour, Thursday morning, about fifty people blocked an exit of Autoroute 720 in downtown Montreal, in solidarity with indigenous Wet’suwet’en people struggling against the construction of a pipeline on their unceded territory. Barricades were lit on fire at the corner of St-Marc and René-Levesque in order to block car traffic. A #WetsuwetenStrong banner was hung from highway signage to express solidarity with indigenous sovereignties.

This action takes place in the context of events organized in support of the Wet’suwet’en who have been resisting the destruction of their territory for over ten years. In Montreal and across Canada, many actions respond to the call for solidarity made by the Wet’suwet’en in response to the RCMP action preventing access to their territory on January 13th.

In the middle of rush hour, Thursday morning, about fifty people blocked an exit of Autoroute 720 in downtown Montreal, in solidarity with indigenous Wet’suwet’en people struggling against the construction of a pipeline on their unceded territory. Barricades were lit on fire at the corner of St-Marc and René-Levesque in order to block car traffic. A #WetsuwetenStrong banner was hung from highway signage to express solidarity with indigenous sovereignties.

This action takes place in the context of events organized in support of the Wet’suwet’en who have been resisting the destruction of their territory for over ten years. In Montreal and across Canada, many actions respond to the call for solidarity made by the Wet’suwet’en in response to the RCMP action preventing access to their territory on January 13th.

The Canadian state, via its armed forced and colonial justice, is attacking the Wet’suwet’en land defenders in order to ensure the deployment of 670 km of the Coastal GasLink liquified natural gas pipeline.

In this critical moment, let’s continue to respond to the call of the Wet’suwet’en and support their struggle by all means necessary.

More info at https://unistoten.camp

#WetsuwetenStrong