Uncensored Interview with a Tar Sands Blockader

23 Dec

This interview was originally published with heavy edits in a liberal mainstream news outlet.  Tar Sands Blockaders are sick of having their voices diluted.  

1) How did you get involved with Tar Sands Blockade?

After seeing an image of friends on the Wall at the blockade with a big banner reading, “You Shall Not Pass” I decided to drop everything and come to Texas to stand in solidarity with my comrades fighting resource extraction, corporate ecocide and ultimately the cruel, exploitative hand of capitalism which of course allows companies like Trans Canada to thrive.

2) What actions have you been involved in?

I have been involved in multiple actions with the Tar Sands Blockade. Upon first arriving to Texas I worked as part of the ground crew providing direct support for comrades occupying the tree village. This included providing food, water, emotional support and physically protecting the tree sitters. Several times large machinery called feller bunchers (think Fern Gully) came dangerously close to trees our friends were sitting in putting their lives in direct danger, it was up to us in the ground support crew to put our bodies in the line of machinery and turn Trans Canada around. Eventually the ground support crew was forced out of Middle Earth (the given name for the woods where the tree village is located) by increased repression from the state and Trans Canada, who may as well have been synonymous with each other. I worked on a mass action which included over 50 people defying Trans Canada and police and charging the site of the tree village to provide food and water to friends and comrades in the trees who had been under the constant surveillance of both aforementioned parties and essentially held hostage with the threat of arrest and being added to a SLAPP suit (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation). We know that this is how the state tries to back people in to a corner, to threaten and scare them until they become ineffective so we choose to continue to resist the Keystone XL Pipeline and all those who are accomplices to its construction including the war criminal, Barack Obama.

3) How have the cops treated you?

We have had to deal with police all over Eastern Texas, and our interactions have been quite varied. It is important to note that most of the participants of Tar Sands Blockade are not new to interacting with police in a protest setting. However, it is also important to note that police departments and their response to unsanctioned speech and direct actions can typically vary quite drastically from county to county, state to state, branch to branch, etc. The majority of interactions with law enforcement have been with the Wood County Sheriff in Northeastern Texas. These interactions ranged from mild harassment to full on torture. In some of the first days of the tree blockade two protesters locked themselves to a piece of heavy machinery that was clearing the forest dangerously close to their comrades in the trees. The police utilized “pain compliance” in order to get the blockaders to release. This amounted to the two people being put in stress positions, choke holds, pepper-sprayed, and ultimately tazed. It is not a revelation to any of us that the collusion of state and private enterprise has always been part of this country, and has always been against the interests of the general population. The police are the natural-born enemy of the citizenry, and they will always serve the interests of the corporatocracy. We are living in a dystopian present, constantly being surveilled and infiltrated, and we understand that organizing under this atmosphere is going to involve some level of police interaction. Regretfully, it seems that the more effective an anti-capitalist action is, the more extreme the police response will be.

4) How do you make decisions within the group?

We are a nonhierarchical group that organizes around a consensus model. In place, as well, is a policy of anti-oppression that seeks to destroy many of the oppressive behaviors that we exhibit, much of the time unconsciously. When we hold meetings (which often take up multiple hours per day) we strive to incorporate as many voices as possible, and work together to formulate decisions that will work for everyone in the group. If this sounds arduous, that’s because it is. However, as we work to fight against the destruction of our water, our air, and our land base, we find it imperative to also create a new community that will not repeat the same mistakes of the old. Many of us believe that the fight against all forms of socialized oppression must be a part of the fight against ecocide and natural resource exploitation.

5.) How have you interacted with farmers and landowners?

The interactions I have personally had with farmers and landowners here have been heartbreaking yet reaffirming to my anti-capitalist convictions. I have seen how corporations and the state work together to exploit people, animals and the earth. How good people are stomped on and crushed by the authoritarian hand of the ruling class. Trans Canada will stop at nothing to burry their pipeline in the blood and bones of the middle class. Landowners and farmers here have been strong allies to Tar Sands Blockaders. They have welcomed me and many others with open arms, we have shared meals, beds, stories of hope, stories of despair. We have fought side by side to defend farmland, cherished woods, and backyards from this dangerous and dirty pipeline which is destroying communities all along its murderous route. From the point of extraction in Alberta where first nation, indigenous folks are being exploited and sickened, to the homes and farms of Texans and other Americans, the woods that are home to plants, trees and animals -many already on the brink of extinction, and in Houston and Port Arthur where the pipeline will pump tar sands in to refineries who will in turn pump (even more) toxins and carcinogens into the lungs of marginalized communities of color – wherever the Keystone XL Pipeline runs we will be there to resist. Wherever capitalism exists we will stand in open defiance to the exploitation of the many to satiate the greed and lust for money and power of the few.

One Response to “Uncensored Interview with a Tar Sands Blockader”

  1. dallas mccoy December 24, 2012 at 3:11 pm #

    These are the real heros in this world. If only there was a way to turn their numbers into millions and cover the entire nation. Then go for more than the tar sands.

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