Oklahoma “Glitter’ Activists Found Not Guilty!

okOklahoma “Glitter’ Activists Found Not Guilty!

Reposted from Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance

Judge Phillipa James announced today a Not Guilty Verdict in regards to last month’s Disorderly Conduct trial of local environmental activists Moriah Stephenson and Stefan Warner. Stephenson and Warner were arrested nearly two and a half years earlier when glitter spilled off of a Hunger Games-themed banner that the activists hung in the open-to-the-public atrium of the Devon Energy building. The glittery banner read, “The Odds Are Never in Our Favor.”

At their trial, Stephenson and Warner explained that the banner was intended to highlight the disproportionate ways in which oil and gas development occurs. Stephenson explained, “Our intent was to highlight that the odds are never in our favor, our being the people’s favor.” Stephenson explained that oil and gas development disenfranchises communities of color and low-income, rural communities, a practice commonly referred to as environmental racism. Stephenson told the courtroom, “The purpose of the demonstration was to raise awareness about Devon Energy’s involvement in tar sands extraction and the environmentally racist nature of tar sands extraction.” Warner contributed that the large tax incentives that oil and gas corporations receive have exacerbated our current economic crisis in Oklahoma. Additionally, oil and gas corporations gain wealth from hydraulic fracturing, while homeowners are forced to pay for earthquake damage that results from the disposal of fracking wastewater.

The activists’ lawyer argued that Stephenson and Warner’s actions were a form of protected free speech. Judge Philipa James found that Warner and Stephenson were both engaged in political protest and that the evidence presented by both the defense and the City of Oklahoma City established that there was no “public alarm” caused by the protest activity.

For interviews or questions, contact: Moriah Stephenson (405) 283-6140

Rising Tide North America Solidarity Delegation to the Philippines Begins!

philippines_typhoon2This week, Rising Tiders from Portland and Seattle traveled to the Philippines on a solidarity mission to visit Indigenous communities in Mindanao on the frontlines of climate destruction, capitalism and imperialism.

They will be traveling in Kidapawan, currently in a state of calamity due to a crippling drought and the recent site of a massacre in which farmers and indigenous folk were fired upon after setting up a street blockade to demand that inaccessible government food rations be distributed.

And then traveling to Davao for two human rights conferences: the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines general assembly, and the International Conference on Peoples’ Rights in the Philippines.

As the group has said:

“We believe that joining our allies on this trip to the Philippines is the most important way we can show our solidarity with this People of Color led movement in the United States, and our allies in the Global South. In fact it is the thing we have been repeatedly asked to do by our BAYAN kasamas.”

Historically conditioned as a colonial experiment and geographically located in the rapidly changing climate of the Global South, the Philippines stands as a frontline nation against political and environmental repression.  As international mining companies seek to drive communities off their ancestral mineral-rich land, the Philippine Armed Forces uses its monopoly on violence to enforce this destructive logic of capital accumulation, while escalating deforestation is wiping out ecosystems, poisoning water sources, and removing natural sources of carbon sequestration.

Meanwhile, though the country is hardly industrialized enough to be a major contributor to climate change, it bears some of the worst effects, such as increased risk from sea level rise and massive typhoons.  Yet despite it all, the Filipino people rise up and resist.  Now is the time for uncompromising solidarity with our allies in the Philippines fighting for their right to life, dignity, and a world in which we all can live.

Transnational solidarity is an important step in fighting the root causes of climate change. Furthermore, ensuring that our allies in the Philippines fighting for their right to life, dignity, and a world in which we all can live are given support and solidarity from the Global North.

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Twenty-One People Arrested Blockading Oil Train Route in Vancouver, WA

vancouverTwenty-One People Arrested Blockading Oil Train Route in Vancouver, WA

via Portland Rising Tide

Over 100 people stopped rail traffic by forming a human blockade across the tracks in Vancouver, WA on Saturday, June 18.  Watch a recap video and donate to their legal fund.

Organized by the Fossil Fuel Resistance Network in response to the recent oil train derailment in Mosier, OR, the action united voices from across the region in concern not only about the potential local impacts of continued oil-by-rail, but also about the immediate and critical threats of carbon emissions and climate change. During the blockade, many community members spoke about their grief and rage that corporate greed is putting our local ecosystems and communities at risk and fueling the sixth great global extinction.

The Union Pacific train that derailed in Mosier on June 3rd contaminated the Columbia River and local sewer system with crude oil fracked from the Bakken Shale, ignited a fire that released toxic oil smoke into the air, evacuated local neighborhoods and schools, and ultimately drained the city’s entire aquifer.  In the last three years alone, oil train derailments in North America have killed forty-seven people, spilled millions of gallons of oil into waterways, forced the evacuation of thousands and caused billions of dollars in property damage and environmental destruction.

Community members connected the local disaster to a greater climate crisis – ecosystems across the planet are rapidly destabilizing, confirming the worst case scenarios of climate scientists’ predictions.  “We need Governors Brown and Inslee to do more than just advocate for a temporary moratorium on oil trains!  We need them to enact an immediate just transition to a post-fossil fuel economy,” said Portland resident Audrey Caines.  “If governments are not going to take decisive and immediate action to keep fossil fuels in the ground, people’s movements like this one will.”

Speakers also addressed the social consequences of fossil fuel infrastructure, stating that marginalized communities bear disproportionate risks and consequences, as oil train blast zones, pipeline routes, and drilling sites typically exist in low-income rural areas and communities of color. In Mosier, the disaster threatened food and water sources for local Native tribes.

BNSF and the Vancouver city police tried to disperse the crowd multiple times.  In an act of pure intimidation, BNSF ran an engine within 50 feet of the protesters on the tracks and blew it’s horn repeatedly.  Despite the looming non-verbal threat, nobody sitting on the rails made any moves to leave.

The Pacific Northwest has seen a growing movement against fossil fuel transport throughout the region.  Concerned residents point out that proposed new fossil fuel terminals and terminal expansions, including the proposed Tesoro-Savage oil terminal in Vancouver, WA, could result in a dramatic increase in coal and oil trains passing through the Columbia Gorge each week. Mosier would see five times the amount of oil train traffic if these projects are approved. “This is not just the beginning!” said Portland Rising Tide activist Mia Reback. “This movement is growing and will not stop until all fossil fuel extraction projects are shut down and all known fossil fuel reserves are kept safely in the ground! Oil barons beware: we will be back!”

Twenty Arrested Sowing Seeds on Country’s First Tar Sands Mine

utah 1Twenty Arrested Sowing Seeds on Country’s First Tar Sands Mine

via Canyon Country Rising Tide & Wasatch Rising Tide

PR SPRINGS, UT: Thirty people walked onto one of the country’s first tar sands mine and sowed seeds to regrow land destroyed by tar sands – a fossil fuel more polluting than coal and oil. With butterfly puppets, songs, and banners, protesters trespassed onto the mine site and took the remediation of the stripped land into their own hands with shovels, pick axes and seed balls.

Evidently displeased with the sowing of native grasses and flowers, law enforcement intervened to arrest 20 of the planters, who banded together and sang until arrest. The action was planned by the Tavaputs Action Council, a coalition of grass roots social justice groups of the Colorado Plateau, and came as the conclusion to a 3-day event dedicated to celebrating land and biodiversity. Over 100 people participated, camping on public land next to the tar sands mine and attending workshops, panels, and music shows. People came together to hear about indigenous resistance to fossil fuels and colonialism, and to imagine a more equitable future together.

Canadian mining company US Oil Sands has leased 32,005 acres of public lands for oil shale development. In the future, 830,000 acres of public land could be at risk of irreversible tar sands strip mining in the western United States. Tar sands requites large quantities of water for processing into crude oil, putting extra pressure on a water system already under threat of running dry.

Kate Savage, Tavaputs Action Council: “By taking action today, we are creating in the present the future we are dreaming of. This means trespassing against US Oil Sands and other fossil fuel companies that want to make our future unlivable.”

Raphael Cordray, Tavaputs Action Council: “We took action today to tell US Oil Sands that we are here to stay and will not be intimidated by oppressive law enforcement and corrupt companies. Tar sands spells disaster for people and planet, and today we said: not in our name.”

Kim, Nihigaal Bei Iina: “We must remember that if we do not fight we cannot win, we don’t even have a chance of winning. By planting seeds we have a chance of winning another round for mother earth, we still have more battles to fight within us. These seeds planted will harvest another generation of fighters and warriors.”

“The boom and bust failures of coal, tar sands, and oil shale show that we cannot rely on the fossil fuel industry to provide long-term jobs and a steady economy.  We are demanding a “just transition” away from subsidizing dirty energy and towards a stable and sustainable way of living,” says Moab resident and CCRT member Melissa Gracia.  “That is an enormous task and yet people all over the world are rising to the occasion.  We need policies and institutions to support a just transition and we are building the people power to make it happen.”

According to Will Munger, “All across the region people are facing a similar situation. Take for example the recent bankruptcy of Peabody Coal.  They must be held accountable for their destruction of indigenous land on Black Mesa and we must ensure that the CEO’s don’t bail with bonuses while workers and local communities suffer.  We must take the money generated by the fossil fuel industry to repair the land and water while supporting local communities’ transition away from a fossil fuel-dependent economy.”

The Tavaputs Action Council supporting the Reclamation Action includes Canyon Country Rising Tide, Peaceful Uprising, Utah Tar Sands Resistance, Climate Disobedience Center and Wasatch Rising Tide.

Media Contact : Melissa Graciosa, Canyon Country Rising Tide; Tel: 503-409-7710 email: ccrt@riseup.net

Secondary Contact: Natascha Deininger, Wasatch Rising Tide, Tavaputs Action Council; Tel: 435-414- 9299; Email: wasatchrisingtide@gmail.com

FOR PICTURES: http://www.canyoncountryrisingtide.org

Website: www.reclaimtarsands.org