Today, over 70 of water protectors shut down the TC Energy (TransCanada) building in Charleston, WV in solidarity with Unist’ot’en! 4 people locked down together as part of the blockade, and a warrior flag symbolizing Indigenous power was raised, replacing the US flag outside of the building. Banners on site included, “SOLIDARITY WITH WET’SUWET’EN,” and “JUSTICE FOR MMIW [MISSING AND MURDERED INDIGENOUS WOMEN].”
Despite the peaceful nature of the action, DOZENS of cops (primarily from the City of Charleston) responded in force, screaming and violently shoving protesters out of the lobby. They dragged the people whose necks were locked together outside, piling people on top of one another. Folks were repeatedly pushed around and roughed up, but luckily no one was seriously injured. After cops cut the locks around the necks of those locked down, the group dispersed. No arrests were made.
Today’s action was a response to Unist’ot’en Camp’s call for solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en struggle to defend their unceded territory in so-called British Columbia, Canada, from TC Energy’s Coastal GasLink pipeline and the Canadian government. Indigenous people, Appalachian people, and all land defenders stand in solidarity to say WET’SUWET’EN STRONG. SHUT DOWN CANADA. SHUT DOWN TC ENERGY.
Mama Julz, Oglala Lakota and founder of the Mothers Against Meth Alliance, explained her decision to take action, saying, “My territory is experiencing a meth epidemic, and many missing and murdered relatives. All the drugs and sex trafficking come from man camps that TransCanada has brought to my territory. Wet’suwet’en has been experiencing that same violence for years. They have the Highway of Tears, where their missing and murdered relatives are stolen from. It all comes from the pipelines. It’s important to be in solidarity because we face violence from the same industry. Our ancestors traveled and always kept us connected with our indigenous relatives to the North. The waters connect us.”
One Dine activist, who traveled from the Four Corners area to participate in the action, said, “I am here to be in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en folks, and to be in support of the sisters who are raising awareness about missing and murdered Indigenous women. In Indigenous ways of life there are no borders, so anything that happens here on Turtle Island is happening to all our relatives. Just like the Wet’suwet’en are fighting man camps in so-called Canada, the reservation where I’m from faced fracking, and there were man camps there too. New Mexico has one of the highest rates of missing and murdered Indigenous women. This is what extracting, mining, drilling, and everything associated with those industries lead to.”
TC Energy is the same company that operates the Columbia Gas pipeline and storage facility here in Appalachia. Indigenous people — including Monocan, Moneton, and Cherokee people — inhabited the hills and hollers of this region for thousands of years before white settlers arrived, bringing with them genocide and forced relocation. The fossil fuel industry and TC Energy in Appalachia today are a continuation of the legacy of colonization.
Additional statements from folks who locked down today:
“I am here in solidarity with every missing Indigenous woman, with all of the earth and its peoples who have been pillaged and destroyed by the vicious and relentless systems of capitalist extraction and colonialism. I’m here because there is everything to lose — our means of survival and that of all other life on the planet, and because there has been so much loss. Because there is hope in the tiny rebellions. Unending solidarity with the Unist’ot’en fight, and the Wet’suwet’en people, now and forever.”
“The enclosure of land and extraction of its resources is an age old arm of settler colonial violence. I am here because colonialism is ongoing, because our lives and the lives of generations to come depend upon the liberation of the earth and all of its inhabitants. I am here because indigenous women are being disappeared, and that too is an arm of settler colonialism — the one that assaults the bodies of women, queer people, the vulnerable. We all need to fight together to win.”