Environmental activists allied with Everglades Earth First! are planning a demonstration tomorrow morning at the Citibank offices on Palm Beach, in solidarity with Midwest activists facing felony charges for obstructing a Michigan pipeline project.
"I know everyone loves an opportunity to raise a ruckus on 'The Island,'" one protest organizer announced. "Let's make it loud enough for the Koch Brothers to hear us!"
The protest concerns multiple issues: 1) the mining of tar sands, whose environmental impact is highly toxic; 2) oil pipelines, whose safety record is uneven; 3) fossil fuels generally, and their impact on climate; and 4) the "Green Scare," official labeling of environmental activists as terrorists, and their disproportionate targeting and prosecution.
Organizers of tomorrow's protest picked the Citibank site for the its financial support of Enbridge Energy. Enbridge owns and operates Michigan pipeline 6B, which transports crude oil extracted from Canadian tar sands. In 2010 6B suffered a six-foot rupture that dumped more than one million gallons of crude, polluting almost 40 miles of the Kalamazoo River. One of the largest and costliest on-land oil spills in U.S. history, clean-up is still ongoing.
The Kalamazoo disaster notwithstanding, Enbridge proposes to expand its troubled pipeline to transport volumes of crude that would exceed the Keystone XL, the highly controversial pipeline project that's the subject of a raging political dispute.
Michigan environmental activists have been agitiating against Enbridge's expansion plans, four of their number using lock boxes to attach themselves to machinery on a company construction site last July. Arrested and charged with resisting or obstructing police -- a felony in Michigan -- three of their number are now on trial.
Why should Floridians care about the Enbridge dispute? One visiting Michigan activist, Toby V. Potter, put it like this:
There are countless reasons to care about an oil spill, wherever it happens, as well as a law that makes it a felony to not strictly follow police orders. Whether the struggle looks like settlers standing in solidarity with First Nations people whose land is being destroyed to mine tar sands, or people trying to create a worthwhile precedent for holding a multinational corporation accountable for an atrocity like the largest inland oil spill in the U.S....the fight is one for justice. The law that is on trial right now is currently somewhat unique to Michigan. Most states have misdemeanor offenses for "resisting without violence;" in Michigan doing anything other than exactly what the police order is a 2-year felony charge. Repression running rampant in any area is cause for concern everywhere.
UPDATE: Friday 1.31, 4:10 p.m.
A correspondent on the scene reports:
Nothing very eventful. The Shiny Sheet was there taking pictures; we had a lot of really positive response... It seemed like nearly half the people driving by honked and waved or gave thumbs up... Of course quite a few snooty PBers but overall pretty positive. Lots of police there but they didn't bother us at all, just kept a constant eye on us... About 30 protesters, something like that -- good crowd.
As for the three Michigan pipeline protestors accused of felonies, visiting activist Toby V. Potter reports:
...all 3 women were found guilty of all charges today. The jury deliberated for 10 hours, and still returned the guilty verdict. Their bail was revoked and they were taken into custody immediately. The sentencing is not set until March 5. More updates at www.michigancats.org
Enbridge Pipeline Protest Friday, January 31, 9 a.m. 400 Royal Palm Way, Palm Beach
Fire Ant -- an invasive species, tinged bright red, with an annoying, sometimes-fatal sting -- covers Palm Beach County. Got feedback or a tip? Contact Fire.Ant@BrowardPalmBeach.com.
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