Police Target Double Blockade with Sweeping Arrests, ODOT Waves Public Safety

Photo from Rising Tide/Cascadia Forest Defenders Action to come soon.

Photo from yesterday’s Rising Tide/Cascadia Forest Defenders Action to come soon.

from Earth First! Newswire

How it went down

17 activists were arrested yesterday night, and 16 are currently in jail in Grants Pass (if you want to know what that means, here’s the Sheriff of Grants Pass on the Glen Beck Show), after a double-blockade of the Omega Morgan megaload heading through Eastern Oregon to the Alberta tar sands.

(Please click here to contribute to the legal and get Rising Tide and Cascadia Forest Defenders out of jail!)

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.

The Megaload Rides at Noon

Today, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) waved all public safety by allowing the megaload to travel during the day. The dangerous, 900,000 lbs, 376 feet-long, 22 feet-wide megaload is ordinarily scheduled to travel only during the evening, due to its enormous size and slow travel at 10-25 mph during the day.

A similarly sized load toppled Tuesday evening in Gladstone, OR, and tied up I-205 for 2 hours.

According to ODOT’s Office of Innovative Partnerships and Alternative Funding, the megaload is traveling during the day, because of frost. Activists suggest that the real reason is because of the continued intervention of protestors along the route.

Tonight’s action is the latest in a series of protests that have erupted in OR and WA since the megaload began to move. The load was first blocked on December 1st, when two people locked themselves to the truck as an estimated 70 others rallied nearby, including many Umatilla Tribal members.

The next night one Umatilla tribal elder was arrested while blocking the load. Two weeks ago in Fife, WA members of Rising Tide occupied the megaload shipper Omega Morgan’s office, and did so again last week in Portland, OR after disrupting a meeting. The group also occupied an office of a General Electric subsidiary in Bellevue, WA that manufactured the equipment being shipped.

The group is calling for Omega Morgan and other companies to stop shipping or otherwise facilitating tar sands development.

Events last night marked the 6th regional action against megaloads in just over two weeks.

Omega Morgan says this is the first of three megaload shipments through the region, though it is likely the company needs this route indefinitely, as their former route through Idaho was blocked by an injunction filed by the Nez Perce Tribe, following major protests in Idaho and Montana.

In a recent letter to Governor Kitzhaber, Gary Burke, Chair of the Umatilla Reservation’s Board of Trustees, expressed opposition to the megaloads due to lack of consultation with the tribes and the role of tar sands extraction in harming indigenous people and fueling global climate change.

He also emphasized the legal requirement of state agencies like the Oregon Department of Transportation to consult tribal representatives before engaging in actions that affect Oregon Tribes, as Kitzhaber mandated in Executive Order 96-30.

He also called attention to the role of tar sands extraction in harming indigenous people and fueling global climate change.

Groups organizing the protest in Eastern Oregon, including chapters of Rising Tide and 350.org, oppose the shipments due to their ultimate role in extracting Alberta tar sands, which would supply oil for the controversial Keystone XL, and facilitate what many have called the most destructive industrial project on Earth.

Umatilla Tribal Member Shana Radford said, “We have responsibility for what happens on our lands, but there are no boundaries for air, and the carbon dioxide this equipment would create affects us all. The Nez Perce tribe said no to megaloads, and so should we.”


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