17 Arrests in Double Blockade Against OM Megaload in OR

Cross Posted from Earth First! Newswire

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17 activists were arrested yesterday night, and 16 are currently in jail in Grants Pass, after a double-blockade of the Omega Morgan megaload heading through Eastern Oregon to the Alberta tar sands.

The first blockade went up at around 7:30pm. The passenger seat of the car was removed, and there was a hole cut into the floor. Air was deflated from the tires. Once the car was in place on the road, one individual crawled underneath the car, and the other sat in the passenger seat area; these two individuals were locked together through the hole in an L-shaped lock box.

When police arrived on scene, they smashed the glass of the car, then used the “jaws of life” to cut the car apart. They dragged the two individuals to an ambulance, still locked together in the L-shaped lock box. Police aggressively arrested 3 other individuals serving as the support team who were actively trying not to obstruct the load or police activity.

Arrestees reported that the police were using pain compliance to remove the individuals from the car, and are experiencing minor injuries such as bruised wrists.

The scene was cleared and the car towed by around 8:10pm.

At around 8:30pm, another blockade was deployed on Hwy 26, 1-1 1/2 miles East of John Day. This blockade included a 6ft trailer in the middle of the road, tires deflated. On the trailer was a barrel of cement. One individual was locked to this barrel with their arm inside a lockbox and encased in cement. Another individual was locked to the axle of the trailer.

At this blockade, in addition to the 2 people who were locked to the trailer, there were 9 additional arrests of individuals on the side of the road who were not trying to obstruct the load or police activity.

Other individuals were unable to get close enough to find out how the police dismantled this blockade without also being threatened with arrest.

In a statement, the Cascadia Forest Defenders declared, “Two people were locked down to a barrel and were removed from their lockdowns by pain compliance – they were tortured.”

Arrestees confirm reports of pain compliance techniques used in the dismantling of this blockade. According to bystanders, the police lifted and pulled the trailer, and the person locked to the axle was dragged on the ground. Another individual had her jacket sleeves cut off, which caused her to be exposed to the extreme cold while she was locked down.

All photographers and videographers on the scene were arrested, so our promises of photos and videos may take a little while to get fulfilled.

Read the Full Story HERE

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Climate Activists Crash Omega Morgan Meeting

Cross-Posted from Earth First! Newswire

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This morning, employees at the Omega Morgan corporation were surprised to find a boisterous crowd of climate justice activists in their Hillsboro office challenging their role in tar sands extraction.

The activists burst into a meeting with chants and banners, causing the meeting to disperse. One protestor then read a letter to employees of Omega Morgan demanding that they stop moving mega loads and cut ties to tar sands extraction.

An employee denied the activists’ demand to meet with the CEO, because they weren’t on the schedule, prompting Mike Gaskill with Portland Rising Tide to declare, “Omega Morgan moved mega loads through Umatilla land without asking, so we aren’t the only ones who show up without being on the schedule.”

18 cop cars are parked outside of the office, and 11 cops have formed a line inside of the lobby to keep activists from leaving. A tense standoff is happening right now. Police are insisting that the activists leave or else be arrested, and one of the cops is delivering the letter to the CEO. More updates and photos to come.

This is one of several actions in the last 2 weeks, including an office occupation in Fife, WA, by Seattle Rising Tide in solidarity with protestors who stopped the Omega Morgan mega load from rolling out of the Port of Umatilla by locking down to the 380 foot long behemoth.

Read the full story HERE

Mega-Slow Omega Load Still in OR, Take Action Now!

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As the longest and heaviest piece of tar sands equipment to date lies grounded in Oregon, waiting for the weather to improve , activists across the region are mobilizing and gearing up for its inevitable trek through Idaho and Montana. Other than being an extra-massive piece of equipment that requires extra-legal permitting, the story with this first of three pieces of equipment is the same. The forward march of the fossil fuel industry is seeking industrial corridors for their infrastructure — to expand and exploit massive reserves of oil sands in (so-called) Alberta.

In the process of exploring, developing and opening up new infrastructure corridors they (shipping companies and oil corporations) threaten rural communities with a nightmarish industrial future. And this is just for equipment headed to commercial operations in Canada. What many in the struggle are not yet focussing on is U.S. tar sands development in Utah, which may contain up to 7 times the recoverable oil as Alberta. Imagine what the Northwest would look like if that comes to fruition.  More notably these corridors (and their associated export terminals, pipelines, mining operations and disposal sites)  threaten tribal territories and  indigenous self determination. On the bright side, these projects have have ignited a powerful resistance to the entire fossil fuel agenda among red nations across turtle island (North America).

There are no signs that the oil sands industry will slow down anytime soon. There is no question, however, that more people are aware of its destruction — with every new piece of equipment, every new oil spill, every front line testimony and every act of resistance to the cogs of the big oil machine. And more of those people are willing to take direct action to slow it down. Before there is a critical mass of resistance to physically shut down the tar sands, all we can do is slow them down, cost them money and malign their practitioners.

For these Omega-Morgan loads there are several things you can do RIGHT NOW. While plans are in the works for a more direct response please consider taking the time to use these avenues to slow the loads movement.

1) Tell the MT Department of Transportation not to grant special travel permits by filling out this form. Some talking points to consider:

• MDT and ITD should not issue a permit to Omega-Morgan to transport the 900,000-pound load moving through Oregon.                                                                                                                                                                                                               • Due to winter conditions and the load’s size, it is not likely to meet Montana’s 10-minute rule nor Idaho’s 15-minute rule — that is, not likely to meet each state’s mandated traffic delay limits for oversize load transport permits.                                                                                                                                                                                                           • Travel delays caused by this oversize load could prevent Montana and Idaho citizens from accessing critical emergency services.                                                                                                                                                                               • MDT and ITD should conduct detailed environmental analysis and allow members of the public to comment before it even considers issuing a permit to Omega Morgan.

2) Call Omega Morgan CEO John McCalla  at 503-647-7474 right now with a message: I oppose the tar sands and I want you to stop shipping equipment to process it.  Here’s the link

Stay tuned to this blog, our listserv and FB pages for notices about any rallies and actions associated with these shipments in the coming weeks. 

Umatilla Tribal Member Speaks at Megaload Protest

Umatilla Blockade Victory! Megaloads Delayed Another Night

From Earth First! Newswire

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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.

March and Sit-In Against Coal Exports in Helena ends in 13 arrests

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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.

Click here for the full story

Federal Judge Rules in Favor of Nez Perce, Blocks Tar Sands Loads in Idaho

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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.

read the judge’s ruling here, and another full story here at spokesman.com.