Willits Bypass Protester’s Account of Lock-down Action, Time in Jail

21 Aug

from Save Little Lake Valley

Kim BancroftKim Bancroft is a writer, homesteader, and retired teacher who lives in Willits.  She has been working to oppose the Caltrans Willits Bypass since The Warbler’s tree sit commenced in January.  Earlier this month, Kim and Arcata resident Maureen Kane were arrested for locking down to an excavator in the Bypass southern interchange area, with Willits resident Steve Keyes being arrested as part of the same action.  She chronicles the experience in detail on her blog, Urban Woman’s Guide Back to the Land, in a series of six very well-written posts. It is the most detailed chronicle of a Bypass protester’s experience of an action and their subsequent incarceration that anyone has written.

In the same vein, Will Parrish published the first in a series of two articles on his experience as a crane sitter in the Anderson Valley Advertiser last week.

Kim’s posts recount her experience of being locked to the excavator, her interactions with a kindly, God-fearing negotiating officer who believes God has commanded people to obey the government and that global warming is a farce, the experience of total surveillance that exists in jail, her sense of the injustice vis-à-vis the incarceration of other inmates for minor (or non-existent) offenses, the camaraderie among inmates, the solidarity she experienced upon being released, and much more.

In one of the posts (#36), Bancroft writes: “So why pull this action? It’s a rare opportunity to bring dramatic attention to our cause in even a small way. It’s an opportunity to stop the odious destruction reaped by the big machines for one small day in the long, long process of building an unnecessary $300 million dollar cement highway that will destroy so much precious land and spend so much precious money (as my previous blogs on the topic have pointed out). Sometimes you just have to say, “Stop! I won’t put up with it anymore! We will not let you proceed without demonstrating our contempt for the destruction that so lacks consciousness about the value of our environment”—even if that makes me merely a friggin’ environmentalist. People once believed the earth was flat, after all.

I believe that the construction of the Willits Bypass is contributing to global climate change, and the destruction of a precious wetland that will never be repaired by the mitigation that Caltrans promises.

I believe that Caltrans manipulated data regarding the need for a 4-lane bypass in order to gain public approval of their overbuilt behemoth.

I believe Caltrans has refused to listen to the viable alternative plans for an alternate route that the Willits community created and desperately wants.

Why have they refused? Because Caltrans wants a regional route to fulfill their own corporate purposes, so what Willits really wants and needs is not important. I believe Caltrans has been and will continue to be sorely mismanaged, utilizing fraud and strong arming techniques (after all, they have the paramilitary force of the California Highway Patrol to help them build their highway) to get their way. They have the guns and the tanks, they have the power to get what they want. If they think we are so few in number, why are they so angry with us as we try to remain non-violent with them?

I’ve had lots of time to think about these contradictions while I’ve been not only locked down to that machine but also locked down in jail for two more days.”

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