Yesterday was a busy one for the Tar Sands Blockaders. Over fifty people attempted to enter the area where the Tree Village blocks TransCanada clear-cutting. The non-violent actions resulted in more arrests. Solidarity actions occurred in several places, including Washington DC, Boston, New York City, and Austin and Denton, Texas.
On Democracy NOW! Amy Goodman interviewed, “Susan Scott, who owns land where the pipeline will run; actress Daryl Hannah, who was arrested there last week and has long been active in protests against the pipeline; and Tar Sands Blockade coalition spokesperson Ron Seifert.” In her introduction, Goodman included this:
While the blockade has drawn plenty of attention, protesters have had to document much it themselves because off-duty police officers paid by TransCanada have set up a perimeter blocking reporters from accessing the actions. Last week, two journalists with press credentials were arrested and spent the night in jail before their charges were dropped. Police also detained two New York Times reporters, handcuffing them before letting them go….
As it turned out, one of the over fifty people who yesterday entered the Tree Village area was livestreaming, and was grabbed by, presumably, the off duty police officers hired by TransCanada.
I’m including the excerpt below from Goodman’s interview, as she talked with Daryl Hannah, because I think the Obama administration’s handling of Keystone is a very important factor. Simplified, some Obama supporters point to his initial rejection of the project, and calls for further environmental studies, but tend to ignore his fast tracking of the southern section.
AMY GOODMAN: Daryl Hannah … (y)ou’ve been arrested several times around this pipeline, most recently in Winnsboro, in Texas. … (A)fter 1,200 people were arrested making a ring around the Rose Garden in Washington a year ago, President Obama said he was putting off the construction but then agreed to the … lower part that goes through Texas to be built.
DARYL HANNAH: Right, the southern leg of the Keystone XL was fast-tracked, but it was sort of done under cover, because from then on the Keystone XL got very little press, and most people just assumed that the decision had been postponed until after some environmental review and, of course, after the elections. … You know, the director of President Obama’s campaign used to be TransCanada’s chief lobbyist, and Hillary Clinton’s deputy campaign director is now their chief lobbyist. … (V)ery few people have any doubt that the whole pipeline was going to be approved.
In January of this year, Obama rejected a “rapid approval” of the pipeline, blaming Congressional Republicans of making the TransCanada pipeline a political issue. Duh. But Obama made it clear he wasn’t rejecting the project. Via Huffington, in March Obama said time was needed to ensure “the health and safety of people living in surrounding areas,” but then immediately ordered a fast-track process regarding the southern section (Oklahoma through Texas) of the pipeline.
Then on June 22, via NYTimes Green:
The Obama administration, moving swiftly on the president’s promise to expedite the southernmost portion of the disputed Keystone XL pipeline, has granted construction permits for part of the route passing through Texas, officials said on Tuesday.
It seems the Obama administration decided on a step by step, section by section, sub-section by sub-section, process of approval. If the Texas section is completed, or nearing completion, or even just well along, the next step, no doubt through Oklahoma, will follow. Etc.
Meanwhile, land is being cleared, trees are toppled and burned, off duty law enforcement officers act on the directions of TransCanada representatives, and Blockaders and those acting in solidarity continue direct, non-violent actions.
From Tar Sands Blockade, October 15:
UPDATE 4:30 – We’re getting sued!
As the Winnsboro, Texas tree blockade enters its fourth week, over 50 blockaders publicly demonstrated on the Keystone XL easement despite the threat of a newly-expanded Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) by TransCanada and egregious criminal overcharges by local law enforcement. …
UPDATE 4:00PM – Our first arrestee has been released without charges. He was arrested early this morning when he sat down in the Keystone XL’s pathway and refused to move. …
UPDATE 3:50 PM – Two blockaders who locked themselves to Keystone XL machinery have been arrested. … These two most recent arrests make 10 total for the day. …
UPDATE 3:20PM- Solidarity rally in Denton, TX has begun!
UPDATE 1:55PM – At least eight people have been arrested after walking onto the Keystone XL clear cut … . Two blockaders are still locked to huge excavator in the path of toxic pipeline. …
UPDATE: 12:00PM- We just did a call-in with the solidarity rally in DC! …
UPDATE 11:10AM- 6 blockaders have been arrested at the Tree Blockade.
UPDATE 11:00AM- Today’s first solidarity rally in Washington DC is beginning now outside the American Petroleum Institute!
UPDATE 10:00AM- 4 arrests so far. Freelance journalist/livestreamer Lorenzo Serna has been released. …
UPDATE 9:06AM- Three blockaders have been arrested. …
UPDATE 9:00AM – One blockader arrested after sitting down in the path of Keystone XL and refusing to leave.
UPDATE 8:45 – Video: Over 50 blockaders walk onto the Keystone XL pathway!
Last week, the multinational corporation opened a civil suit in which it named 19 individual defendants, 3 organizations, and 6 anonymous tree sitters for a total of 28 defendants seeking an injunction, declaratory relief, and damages. All the named defendants are former arrestees of Tar Sands Blockade actions with the exception of media spokesperson Ron Seifert …, and area landowner Eleanor Fairchild, who acted independently with activist and actor Daryl Hannah. Hannah was not named in the suit.
(Tar Sands 50 Blockaders March via Tar Sands Blockade)