Last week, I wrote about the action camps planned this month that will be challenging the root causes of climate change, i.e. the fossil fuel industry, in the Midwest, Southeast and Pacific Northwest.
But August is already sizzling with small groups of environmental and Indigenous rights minded people stepping up and putting their bodies on the line to protect those places most near and dear to their hearts.
Last Thursday, in New Orleans about 100 people rallied at BP’s Regional Command Center to protest the oil giant’s continued lack of accountability in cleaning up one of the worst corporate disasters in U.S. history- the Gulf Oil Spill. As the event’s call to action put it “The Oil is Still Here and so are We,” and Louisiana residents are mobilizing to fight back against the poisoning of the Gulf of Mexico by BP.
Three were arrested staging at sit-in at the front entrance of the office during the rally. Cherri Foytlin, a Louisiana resident, an oil worker’s wife, a mother of six and one of the arrested said “They’ve told us we can’t cross this line or we’ll be arrested. Well they crossed the line a long time ago when 11 men died and they sprayed poisons into our water and made cleanup workers sick. Now fishermen can’t put food on the table and people are still sick. We’ve had enough. It’s time for us to cross the line now.”
Last year, BP spilled billions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico and has created an environmental and public health crisis throughout the Gulf States. For their part, the BP Support Network (aka the complicit politicians in both parties) seem to have the company’s back as the tax payers are footing the bill for any cleanup efforts and British Petroleum continues to operate in the Gulf.
Meanwhile in Northern Arizona, Native Americans are struggling to defend San Francisco Peaks, sacred to 13 area Native American Nations, from the Snowbowl Ski Resort. The Snowbowl Ski Resort is already destroying the sacred mountain with the clear cutting of grandmother trees, as a pipeline is put in to bring sewage water to the ski resort for snowmaking. Native American medicine men gather healing plants and conduct ceremonies on San Francisco Peaks. The healing herbs would be contaminated by sewage water snow.
Yesterday, six were arrested in Flagstaff in a march protesting the desecration of the San Francisco Peaks sacred sites and today another eight were arrested today while locking down to cement-filled barrels to stop work crews driving up to the peaks.
“As long as Arizona Snowbowl, the Obama Administration’s Forest Service and the City of Flagstaff continue this ecocide and cultural genocide, we will not stop,” said Klee Benally (Dine’), one of the arrested marchers. “We will pray, march, protest, and take whatever action is necessary to ensure that our basic human rights, dignity and environment are safeguarded.”
As environmental and climate activists wake up to the fact that D.C.’s politics of compromise have failed us and are not going to stop one clear cut or the release of another ounce of carbon, we’re seeing the increased use of direct action tactics. We’re seeing increase of people putting their bodies and freedoms on the line to stop greater environmental devastation.
As Ed Abbey said “At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earth movers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behavior.“