BREAKING: Standoff Between Climate Justice Activists and Cops in Lobby of Omega Morgan Building

18 cop cars so far

18 cop cars so far

from Earth First! Newswire

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.

Photo of last week's action by Seattle Rising Tide

Photo of last week’s action by Seattle Rising Tide

The mega load is bound for the tar sands, where it will become part of an extensive expansion.

Tar sands oil is an extremely destructive fossil fuel, and a leading cause of climate chaos, including droughts and superstorms. The recent typhoon in the Philippines displaced over half a million people and left nearly 6000 dead, leading their country’s chief representative to the COP 19 climate negotiations, Naderev Saño, to go on a hunger strike last month. Tar sands extraction requires clear-cutting vast swaths of boreal forests in Canada, poisoning soil, water, air, plants, and wildlife. Clearing forests for tar sands is now the second largest driver of deforestation in the world — second only to deforestation in the Amazon. “It’s immoral for companies to profit from tar sands extraction that devastates ecosystems and the people who rely on them,” said Karen Coulter, Director of Eastern Oregon-based Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project.

If the three scheduled tar sands loads are allowed to move through Eastern Oregon, their route will likely remain an industrial corridor for decades. The enormous size of the shipments (901,000 lbs and 376 feet long) poses immediate health, safety and environmental hazards including blockages to fire truck and ambulance passage, potential damage to critical steelhead trout habitat in the North Fork John Day River and virtually guaranteed damage to roads. Based on experience in Montana and Idaho, local counties will be left holding the repair bills.

“The Oregon Department of Transportation did not consult the Umatilla Tribes or involve the general public when it decided to block public roads to fuel climate chaos. Consent of the governed means the power to say no — we are here to say ‘No’ to Omega Morgan, and to inform them that their ‘permits’ do not have our permission,” said Stephen Quirke of Rising Tide.

“We wonder what always draws us back to this place and why we have to protect it.” said Linda Sampson of the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla. “My dad [Chief Carl Sampson] told me that the blood of our people has been spilled in this country. We want to raise our children here and we need consultation to make sure it’s protected.”

A solidarity action is being held by Seattle Rising Tide in Bellevue, Washington, and ongoing actions are being held to directly block Omega Morgan’s shipments through Eastern Oregon in collaboration with members of the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla. The Nez Perce Tribe recently blocked Mega-load shipments in Idaho with support from Wild Idaho Rising Tide.

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