Two activists who locked down to the megaload leaving from the Port of Umatilla, Oregon, this evening have been arrested, but not before an announcement from Oregon Department of Transportation that the megaloads will not be moved for another night!
ODOT showed concern that the megaload would not make it to Pendelton by 6 AM, as their permit required. The truck is off and most of the workers have left.
No police are in sight, and a contingent of activists will remain to ensure that the megaload does not try to move.
The activists locking down were cheered on and supported by a human blockade that helped to stop the megaload in its tracks for more than two hours. The crowd raised chants, such as “Whose land? Cayuse land!” and “No tar sands on tribal lands!,” and sang songs including Twister Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It!”
On its way to the tar sands in Alberta, Canada, the 900,000 lbs megaload is slated to move through sensitive ecosystems and decaying infrastructure throughout Eastern Oregon and Idaho.
Involved in the protest were Rising Tide chapters, 350.org, and members of the Umatilla and Warm Springs tribes.
According to Umatilla Tribal Member Shana Radford, “We have responsibility for what happens on our lands, but there are no boundaries for air, the carbon dioxide this equipment would create affects us all. The Nez Pierce tribe said no to megaloads, and so should we.”
Warm Springs tribal member Kayla Godowa explained, “It’s our duty to protect the native salmon runs in this area. They want to make this a permanent heavy haul route without even consulting our tribes. Loads like this are unprecedented here. What if a bridge collapses? And what about the impact to native communities being destroyed by the tar sands where this equipment will end up? We can’t just look the other way while native lands and the climate are being destroyed. We have to stand up.”
It is important to remember that, although victory has been secured for one night, the struggle against the megaloads crossing the US is far from over—even this single megaload will find ongoing and cascading resistance as it attempts to make its way through Oregon and Idaho. And it will not likely be the last megaload to pursue this path of destruction on the way to what some scientists have called “the most environmentally destructive project on earth.”
To help support the blockade and get the blockaders out of jail, please donate to the support fund at portlandrisingtide.org/donate.
Also, please call (541) 966-3632, and insist that they release the arrested activists immediately.
From the Helena Independent Record
A group of protesters staged a sit-in along train tracks in Helena on Sunday to oppose a coal development proposal in the state. The act of civil disobedience led city police to issue 13 citations for criminal trespassing.
The protesters sat on a patch of land between railroad tracks crossing North Montana Avenue, about 20 feet from the road. Security personnel with Montana Rail Link, which owns the land, and city police were at the site when protesters arrived.
From Earth First! News
A U.S. District Judge ruled in favor of the Nez Perce Tribe and Idaho Rivers United today, effectively blocking megaloads from Highway 12 in Idaho.
The Nez Perce brought the case to court in August, as Omega Morgan tried to transport General Electric megaloads up Highway 12 without asking permission from the Forest Service.
The megaloads can be an estimated 21 feet wide, weighing 644,000 pounds, and their traffic up scenic Highway 12 (site of the famous movie A River Runs Through It) would disturb vital riparian and forest ecosystems. However, the ruling comes only after a week-long rolling blockade of Highway 12 that, at times, included 150 tribe members and activists, and resulted in the arrest of the entire tribal council. The verdict can be seen as vindicating the direct action of the tribal council, which brought international attention to the issue.
In his ruling, Judge B. Lynn Winmill wrote, “In an earlier decision in a related case, the Court held that the Forest Service must ‘enforce all relevant legal authorities, including, but not limited to, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act … .’ The Forest Service was taking the position that it had authority to review but not to enforce. Obviously, that was an erroneous reading of the Court’s decision.”
As well as the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, the Tribe’s Treaty rights, and the NFMA (National Forest Management Act) were also considerations for the injunction.
The court’s injunction is effective over mileposts 74 to 174 on Highway 12 “until the Forest Service has conducted its corridor review and consulted with the Nez Perce Tribe.” Omega Morgan says they will lose $5 million dollars thanks to the court’s ruling, but the judge reminded the corporation that they had been warned in April that they would lose out if they decided to proceed without Forest Service permission.
He noted, “The plaintiffs are not seeking damages; they are seeking to preserve their Treaty rights along with cultural and intrinsic values that have no price tag.”
Omega Morgan has already begun looking for other options.
In the early morning hours of Tuesday, August 13, some thirty five protesters met and momentarily stopped the embattled Omega-Morgan shipment carrying tar sands refining equipment to Alberta, Canada. As the load approached the group of protesters it appeared as a run-of-the-mill sidewalk demo. When it was within just a few feet those present took the street quickly and held their ground as the cops and convoy workers looked on in confusion.
It was apparent that the police had VERY little patience for the situation — and issued an arrest warning immediately. Our police liason was able to buy a bit of time, but the group decided to finish off the evening with no arrests. Demonstrators halted the movement of the shipment for about ten minutes, far shy of the many hours that our Nez Perce comrades held it at bay. Nevertheless, it was an invigorating experience for the group — many of whom were participating in their first act of non-violent civil disobedience.
This same piece of equipment had experienced four consecutive nights of blockades and protests as it traveled through the Nez Perce nation and Lochsa wild and scenic river corridor in Idaho last week. Once it was known that the shipment was inside MT, organizers with Northern Rockies Rising Tide, Indian Peoples Action, All Against the Haul and Idle No More mobilized folks with about 48 hours lead time. Those present made it clear that future shipments will be met with further action, on and off the streets.
Protestors with the Nez Perce as well as Wild Idaho Rising Tide and Idle No More turned out for a third night of demonstrations against the illegal megaload’s passage through Nez Perce country.
Yesterday’s police was the largest yet, taking the side of Omega Morgan rather than the law. According to Wild Idaho Rising Tide, the police were “more forceful this time. Using their cars and phalanx tactics they forced a way through the crowd and broke the blockade faster than on other nights. The megaload took off and fled, tail between its legs, and proceeded to break laws (AIDED by the cops!) and endanger people all the way to get itself off the Res. before stopping for the night, terrified of facing the Nimipu on yet another night.”
WIRT is calling on the US Forest Service to “step up to the plate with fed marshals, arrest the driver, and impound the rig,” which is traveling without a permit.
Nearly 150 members of the Nez Perce Nation were joined by Idle No More, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), and others in a blockade of Highway 12 in Idaho for three hours late last night to stop a megaload carrying tar sands equipment.
While most people stood on the edges of the road to support the blockaders, the manifestation included about 50 people on the Highway stopping traffic, and was the longest blockade since the beginning of the megaloads shipments.
The oversized water evaporator had received one permit, but bypassed approval by the U.S. Forest Service and Federal Highway Administration. The Forest Service even raised objections, but the Oregon-based shipper Omega Morgan tried to slip the megaload through unnoticed. Through the important activism of Wild Idaho Rising Tide and others, however, the megaload was located easily and tracked.
Judging by its position, the megaload is set to travel across Nez Perce ancestral land and a Wild and Scenic Corridor soon, so the tribal members decided to take direct action rather than sit around and wait for an injunction.