Quinault Indian Nation hosts crude oil protest rally

When tribes stand together is when we are strongest


Quinault Indian Nation President Fawn Sharp, along with many tribal members and Grays Harbor community member rally in protest of crude oil in their county. Photo/Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 


By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Grays Harbor County is the vacation destination for Washingtonians who are looking for a relaxing affordable getaway. Grays Harbor is the home to popular beach towns like Ocean Shores, Seabrook, and Westport. Hikers and nature lovers who visit the Hoh Rainforest and Lake Quinault frequently admire the northern borders of the county because it shares the Olympic Peninsula with Jefferson and Clallam Counties. This county with breathtaking views almost everywhere you look is in danger of jeopardizing its greatest tourist attraction: it’s natural resources.

Westway Terminal is seeking to build and operate oil terminals in Grays Harbor. The company wants to bring in large amounts of oil via train, store it on the shoreline, and ship it out of the harbor in tanker vessels. Westway is the third company attempting to bring crude oil business into the Grays Harbor community in recent years. Imperium Terminal Services and Grays Harbor Rail Terminal have both attempted and failed largely due to the communities’ opposition. Westway argues that the company will create thousands of job opportunities in a community that is economically struggling, and that Washington State has one of the best oil spill prevention and response teams in the country, so if a spill were to ever occur, the damage would be significantly less than other states.


Photo/Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News
Photo/Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News


Grays Harbor recognizes the point the company is trying to make and although some citizens find the possibility of an economic boost appealing, the majority of Grays Harbor feel the risk is greater than the reward. The Quinault Indian Nation (QIN) is the most prominent among the many active voices in the community regarding this issue.

QIN hosted a march and rally in the city of Hoquiam on Friday July 8, protesting crude oil in Grays Harbor County. Hundreds of tribal and community members united in an effort to save the county from Westway’s purposed oil terminals. The rally began when traditional canoes docked at the Hoquiam River. Once everybody was ashore the protesters, with banners raised high, marched onto Hoquiam City Hall.


Photo/Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News


“Our ancestors gave up so much when signing the treaties. They worked to ensure that our generation, and we are the seventh generation since the Quinault Nation signed our treaty in the 1800’s, would be secured by treaty rights. This generation is standing up for our treaty rights to ensure that our natural resources are preserved for the next seven generations to come,” stated QIN President, Fawn Sharp, as the large crowd began to chant “No crude oil!”


Photo/Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News
Photo/Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News


President Sharp commissioned an economic study in regards to what would happen to the community if the county approves the oil terminals. The study found that in the case of an oil spill, approximately 10,000 jobs would be threatened including 700 tribal fisherman, 400 non-tribal fisherman, and over 4,000 tourism based jobs. According to the study, more jobs would be lost in the community in the event of a spill than the jobs that would be created by approving Westway’s move to the harbor. Not to mention the damage a spill would cause the environment.

Sharp stated, “We are at a critical place in Grays Harbor. A decision is going to be made soon. The future of this harbor is going to go in one direction or the other. We need it to go in the direction of no crude oil forever!”

Several community leaders gave testimonies opposing Westway at Hoquiam City Hall that afternoon. Tribal leaders from Lummi, Neah Bay, and Quileute were in attendance to show support for Quinault. With the majority of the community on the same page, the purposed oil terminal seems to facing a losing battle. The QIN’s effort to preserve its natural resources for it’s future tribal members is a battle that the Nation is always prepared for. The protection of treaty rights is a fight that all tribes throughout Native America are familiar with, and when tribes stand together is when we are strongest. No crude oil!


Photo/Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News
Photo/Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News


Photo/Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News
Photo/Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Eight Tribes to Protest Coal Terminals During D.C. Conference

Courtesy Gateway Pacific TerminalMap of the proposed project at Cherry Point in Washington, close to Lummi Nation sacred sites.
Courtesy Gateway Pacific Terminal
Map of the proposed project at Cherry Point in Washington, close to Lummi Nation sacred sites.

Leaders and members of the Lummi Nation and other Washington State tribes opposed to coal terminals in the Pacific Northwest are bringing their concerns to the other Washington, the U.S. capital, on Thursday November 5.

Eight tribes in total will call on Congress to honor treaties that safeguard both the environment and tribal members’ ability to fish and conduct other cultural and sustenance activities that would be compromised by proposed industrial development. They plan to speak on the issue at the Ronald Reagan Building courtyard during the White House Tribal Nations Summit, to be held

“Tribal treaty rights are being threatened by corporate interests and congressional interference,” said the tribes in a media release announcing the event. “As Lummi Nation fights to protect its fishing areas from North America’s largest coal terminal, other tribes have faced their own development pressures and stand united with Lummi against the terminal and the erosion of treaty rights.”

The Lummi have vociferously opposed the projects and have asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to review and reject the proposal for a coal rail terminal at Cherry Point, the ancestral village site of Xwe’chi’eXen.

RELATED: Lummi Nation Asks Army Corps to Deny Permit for Coal Export Terminal

The statement is signed by Lummi Nation Chair Tim Ballew II; Swinomish Indian Tribal Community Chair Brian Cladoosby (also president of the National Congress of American Indians, a post to which he was recently reelected); Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe Chair Frances Charles; Tulalip Nation Chair Melvin Sheldon Jr.; Yakima Nation Chair JoDe Goudy; Hoopa Valley Tribe Chair Ryan Jackson; Spokane Tribe Chair David Brown Eagle, and Quinault Tribe Vice President Tyson Johnston.

RELATED: Lummi Chairman: We Will Fight Coal Terminal ‘By All Means Necessary’

“Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) has led efforts in Congress to prevent the U.S. Army Corps from reviewing the impact of the terminal on the Lummi Nation’s treaty fishing rights—a central tenet of its trust responsibility,” the leaders said in the statement. “If successful, it could set a dangerous precedent for other projects in Indian country.”


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/11/03/eight-tribes-protest-coal-terminals-during-dc-conference-162304

Charges Against 6 Officers In Freddie Gray’s Death Range From Murder To Assault

People protesting the death of Freddie Gray and demanding police accountability took to the streets in Baltimore's Sandtown neighborhood again Thursday night.Getty Images, Andrew Burton
People protesting the death of Freddie Gray and demanding police accountability took to the streets in Baltimore’s Sandtown neighborhood again Thursday night.
Getty Images, Andrew Burton

by Bill Chappell NPR


The Baltimore Police Department’s report on the death of Freddie Gray is now being examined by the city’s top prosecutor. The findings aren’t public; police revealed only a few new details when they announced the transition in the case Thursday. Baltimore’s curfew is expected to remain in effect through this weekend.

Gray died on March 19, one week after being taken into custody; police have said that during his transport, Gray wasn’t buckled in properly and did not receive timely medical care. Six police officers remain suspended over the case.

As Sam reported for the Two-Way, when police turned over the documents to State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby in Baltimore, they announced that “the van transporting Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old black man who suffered a serious spine injury while in police custody and later died, made one more stop than previously thought.”

The roughly 40 minutes that Gray spent in the van have emerged as the focal point in the inquiry over how he sustained an injury that would later be blamed for his death.

That extra stop was discovered through a review of recordings made by security and private cameras, Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said. He added that another detainee who was riding in the van told police that Gray was “still moving around … kicking and making noises” until the van reached the police station.

That second detainee rode in the police van on the other side of a metal partition that divides its cargo space. When he was picked up, Gray was already in the van.

Local news WJZ-TV reports that Donta Allen, 22, was that second man – and that he came forward Thursday out of concern over how his comments were being portrayed by both the police and the media.

“When I was in the back of that van it did not stop or nothing. All it did was go straight to the station, but I heard a little banging, like he was banging his head,” Allen said. ” I didn’t even know he was in the van until we got to the station.”

Saying his words have been distorted by recent reports and that he doesn’t think Gray hurt himself intentionally, Allen also told a WJZ reporter, “The only reason I’m doing this is because they put my name in a bad state.”

Allen, who was reportedly taken into custody for a minor offense and was not charged with a crime, also spoke to WBAL TV. He told the station that when he got into the van, he didn’t know Gray was already there. He said he heard “a little banging for like four seconds.”

WBAL aired surveillance camera footage that shows officers looking into Gray’s side of the van during the stop that also picked up Allen.

When the van arrived at the police station, Allen said he heard the officers say that Gray didn’t have a pulse and was unresponsive — and that another officer later said, “He’s got vitals now, he must’ve come back.”

The sequence of events has led to wide-ranging questions over what happened: Was the van driven in a way that caused Gray’s injury? When did he become unresponsive? Were the sounds Allen heard caused by a seizure experienced by a gravely wounded man?

The Baltimore Sun reports: “Maryland’s chief medical examiner, Dr. David R. Fowler, said his office has not completed an autopsy or turned any documents over to police or prosecutors. He said homicide detectives had observed the examination, a routine practice.”

When it’s complete, Fowler’s report will go straight to the state’s attorney’s office, the newspaper says.

Protesters have been calling on police to reveal more information about the case. Thursday was the third night of Baltimore’s 10 p.m. curfew; before that time arrived, crowds of demonstrators marched in the city’s downtown, among a large police presence.

According to the AP, here’s what protesters were chanting last night:

    • “I love Baltimore. We want peace.”
    • “No justice, no peace.”
    • “Justice. Freddie Gray.”
    • “Black lives matter.”


American Indians Among Eight Thousand Participate in Anti-Fracking March in Downtown Oakland

Largest Anti-Fracking Rally in United States history


Photo Credit: Hartman Deetz
Photo Credit: Hartman Deetz


By Nanette Bradley Deetz, Native News Online

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA — On Saturday, February 7, eight thousand Californians marched in the largest anti-fracking demonstration in US history. The “March for Real Climate Leadership” was held in downtown Oakland, Gov. Jerry Brown’s home city, in order to focus on the need for Brown to end fracking.”We’re here, marching in Jerry Brown’s hometown, to let him know climate leaders don’t frack,” said Linda Caputo, fracking coordinator for 350.org, an international organization that fights climate change.

The marchers assembled in front of City Hall in downtown Oakland, then traveled nearly two miles to the Lake Merritt Amphitheater where a rally was held. Various marchers held signs proclaiming “Idle No More,” “Our Oceans Are Rising, so we Rise Up,” ” No Keystone Pipeline,” “Save the Delta,” “Save Mother Earth,” among many others.



Nanette Bradley Detz & Pennie Opal Plant

Nanette Bradley Detz & Pennie Opal Plant – Photo Credit: Steve Storm.


Pacific Islanders sang traditional songs, along with many marchers drumming, singing, and sending a peaceful yet powerful message to Gov. Jerry Brown.

The march was organized by a large coalition of environmental organizations composed of the Indigenous Block to end fracking that included SF Idle No More, led by Pennie Opal Plant, Marshall Islanders, various California tribes, including Ohlone leader, Corrina Gould, Los Angeles Chapter of AIM, AIM West of Northern California, and many Native Americans from the Bay Area and other parts of California. The Indigenous Block led the march. Other organizations included labor unions, local environment justice groups such as 350.org ,Food and Water Watch, national NGO’s, various health activists, community activists, students, and those committed to protecting water and air for generations to come.

“Fracking is hurting our communities. It is sucking our drought ridden state of precious water resources, contaminating our groundwater in a region where 25% of the nation’s food is grown, and contributing to the impending climate crisis. Oil companies have made Californians feel powerless and silenced, because our governor is only listening to their money,” UC Berkeley student Eva Malis said.


Photo Credit: Charles Lopez

Photo Credit: Charles Lopez


Contingents of marchers traveled from San Diego, Los Angeles, Fresno, and the central coast of California. The rally at Lake Merritt amphitheater began with a traditional Pacific Island chant, then a prayer by Bay area Marshall Island community leader Abon-Burch. Fuifuilupe Niumeitolu then introduced a group of Marshall Island youth who sang traditional songs about water and love for their Moana. Dianne Thomas, a community organizer from Carson, California reported that in 2011 Occidental Oil Company wanted to re-open old oil wells and build 200 new wells over a period of ten years.

“As a community, we continued to organize and fight Occidental Oil, even though we only had the support of one council member in our favor. The draft EIR report never got out of the response phase, and eventually Occidental Oil pulled out of Carson. When we all work together, we can prevail,” said Thomas.

On Monday, February 8, organizers of the anti-fracking march and rally will present Gov. Jerry Brown with 200,000 signatures demanding an end to fracking throughout California.

U.S. Tribes Unite to Testify Against New Tar Sands Oil Pipeline in Canada

Richard J. Seward of Sto:lo First Nation and Pilalt Tribes welcomed the Washington Tribes with songs and ceremony. Chilliwack is the traditional lands of the Sto:lo people.
Richard J. Seward of Sto:lo First Nation and Pilalt Tribes welcomed the Washington Tribes with songs and ceremony. Chilliwack is the traditional lands of the Sto:lo people.


New pipeline threatens way of life of Coast Salish tribes


Brad Angerman, Pyramid Communications


CHILLIWACK, British Columbia—Tribal representatives from four U.S. tribes spoke in unified opposition today against oil giant Kinder Morgan’s new proposed tar sands oil pipeline. The announcement took place in Chilliwack, a rural town of 80,000 about 50 miles (86 kilometers) east of Vancouver, B.C. Tribal elders, fishers, leaders and youth presented testimony opposing the project to Canada’s National Energy Board, which will make a recommendation on the future of the pipeline to Canada’s federal government, the ultimate decision-making body for the project.


Swinomish Chairman and NCAI President Brian Cladoosby with Cultural Coordinator of the Swinomish Tribe and members of First Nations.
Swinomish Chairman and NCAI President Brian Cladoosby with Cultural Coordinator of the Swinomish Tribe and members of First Nations.

“We can no longer allow the Salish Sea to be used as a dumping ground,” said Swinomish Chairman Brian Cladoosby. “For more than 150 years we have lived in a pollution-based economy, and today face increased threat of an oil spill in our traditional fishing grounds on the Salish Sea—an event that would very likely lead to irreparable damage to salmon and shellfish habitat, and destroy our way of life along with it.”


The Kinder Morgan proposed oil pipeline would roughly triple the capacity of the existing pipeline, from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 per day. It would run alongside an existing pipeline that stretches from the Alberta tar sands oil fields to an oil shipping terminal in Burnaby, B.C., a suburb of Vancouver, greatly increasing the traffic of oil tankers carrying diluted tar sands bitumen through Canadian and U.S. waters.


“The proposed pipeline, if approved, will increase the risk of oil spills and cause more disruption of our fishing fleet. The Suquamish Tribe has a duty to stand up to further threats to our Salish Sea fishing grounds, which have sustained our people since time immemorial,” said Suquamish Chairman Leonard Forsman.


Glen Gobin, Tulalip Tribal Member and Tulalip Tribe Board of Directors Treasurer along the shores of the Fraser River after the ceremony.
Glen Gobin, Tulalip Tribal Member and Tulalip Tribe Board of Directors Treasurer along the shores of the Fraser River after the ceremony.
“If the pipeline is approved, there will be a massive increase in tanker loadings,” said Tulalip Board of Director Glen Gobin. “This increased traffic will directly interfere with access to traditional and treaty-protected fishing areas, and put the safety of tribal fishers at risk—not to mention drastically increase the chance of a catastrophic oil spill,” he said. “My father, Bernie Gobin, fought side by side with leaders such as Billy Frank Jr. to ensure that salmon, the very essence of who we are as Coast Salish peoples, live on from generation to generation. We fight for our past and our future.“


Canada’s Coast Salish First Nations also oppose the oil pipeline, and testified before the National Energy Board last week. Those tribes included Shxw’owhámel First Nation, Tsleil-Waututh Nation, Kwantlen First Nation, Musqueam Indian Band, Peters Band. Katzie First Nation and Hwlitsum First Nation also provided testimony.


“Like the sea, Coast Salish people acknowledge no boundaries. We are united to protect the Salish Sea,” said Chemainus First Nation member Ray Harris. “It’s a danger to the environment, a violation of aboriginal fishing rights, and a threat to all people who call this unique place home,” he said.


Coast Salish peoples are the indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest, and have traditionally lived along the coasts of Oregon and Washington in the United States, and in British Columbia, Canada. The Salish Sea is a network of waterways between the southwestern tip of British Columbia and the northwestern tip of Washington State, and includes the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Haro Strait, the Strait of Georgia and the Puget Sound.


From left, Suquamish Tribal Chairman Leonard Forsman, Suquamish tribal member Shaylene Jefferson and Suquamish tribal member Cassia Rose pouring waters from their homelands on the Port Madison Indian Reservation alongside the Fraser River.
From left, Suquamish Tribal Chairman Leonard Forsman, Suquamish tribal member Shaylene Jefferson and Suquamish tribal member Cassia Rose pouring waters from their homelands on the Port Madison Indian Reservation alongside the Fraser River.

Canadian Museum for Human Rights opening marked by music, speeches and protests

Demonstrators call for attention to First Nations issues and the Palestinian struggle


Canadian Museum for Human Rights officially opens amid protests
Canadian Museum for Human Rights officially opens amid protests


CBC News



It was a morning of music, dance, speeches, a little rain and a lot of protest as the Canadian Museum for Human Rights officially opened in Winnipeg.

“With the placement of this final stone, at the heart of our circle, it is with great pleasure that we now declare open the Canadian Museum for Human Rights,” Gov. Gen. David Johnston stated as the centre stone — part of a circle of hand-gathered stones from national parks and national historic sites — was set in place during the opening ceremony Friday.

Inside the event, hundreds of dignitaries gathered and heard speeches about the genesis and purpose of the $351-million museum.

Meanwhile outside, dozens of protesters used the media spotlight to bring attention to issues of murdered and missing women, First Nations water rights, the disappearing traditional lifestyle of First Nations and the Palestinian conflict.

“What happens when these guys over here, with their suits and ties and their outfits, destroy everything?” one First Nations protester yelled.

‘You have to shine a light in some dark corners in Canada’s history because we have to know, I think, where we came from to know where we’re going.’— Stuart Murray, museum president and CEO

As strains of O Canada rang out, it mixed with songs of First Nations women protesting and was punctuated by a woman yelling, “Your museum is a lie.”

One of the first groups to arrive brought their message of the struggle of Palestinian people in Gaza.

They said they feel overlooked and will continue to push in the hopes that eventually they will be featured in the museum.

The protesters said they were upset the issue is not being recognized at the museum, even though they have met with museum representatives over the past couple of years to have it featured in one of the galleries.

Other protesters called on the museum to recognize what they said was the historical “genocide” committed against First Nations by the Canadian government. They drummed, performed ceremonial smudges, chanted and carried placards.


Buffy Sainte-Marie
Buffy Sainte-Marie told reporters on Friday afternoon that Canada and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights should be using the term ‘genocide’ to describe the residential school experience. (Jillian Taylor/CBC) 

Their sentiments were echoed by legendary Canadian musician Buffy Sainte-Marie, who is performing at the museum’s opening concert Saturday night.

Sainte-Marie told reporters that Canada and the human rights museum should use the term “genocide” to describe the residential school experience.

“I think the museum needs to be much more honest, much more bold and much better informed,” she told reporters Friday afternoon.

“I don’t really think that some of the museum people are truly aware of what our history has been.”

Sainte-Marie admitted that she hadn’t seen all the galleries in the museum yet, but added that her expectations were not high.

Group cancels performance

Saturday’s concert was supposed to feature First Nations DJ group A Tribe Called Red, but the group pulled out on Thursday, citing concerns about how the museum portrays aboriginal issues.

“We feel it was necessary to cancel our performance because of the museum’s misrepresentation and downplay of the genocide that was experienced by indigenous people in Canada by refusing to name it genocide,” the group said in a statement Friday.

“Until this is rectified, we’ll support the museum from a distance.”

Museum president and CEO Stuart Murray said the museum will and should spark protest and debate. The vision for the museum has always been to allow people to voice their opinions, he said.

“The Canadian Museum for Human Rights will open doors for conversations we haven’t had before. Not all of these conversations will be easy. We accept that but we will not shy away,” he said.

Officials said they are open to talking to different groups and will update the museum’s content as human rights issues unfold around the world.

‘The journey is finally beginning’

In addition to the opposition from protesters, the museum has faced construction delays leading up to Friday morning’s grand opening ceremony, which began with an indigenous blessing led by elders, including a First Nations prayer, a Métis prayer and the lighting of an Inuit qulliq, or oil lamp.


  •  A peak inside the Canadian Museum for Human Rights on opening day.

​The ceremony was attended by numerous dignitaries including the Governor General and former Manitoba premier Gary Doer, who is now Canada’s ambassador to the United States.

Current Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger, Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz and the museum’s national campaign chair, Gail Asper, spoke at the event, while the program also featured special performances from Canadian vocal quartet the Tenors, YouTube singing star Maria Aragon and Winnipeg singer-songwriter and fiddle player Sierra Noble.

Asper paid tribute to her late parents, Babs and Israel Asper, who were the driving forces behind the museum.

“Neither my father Israel nor my mother Babs [is] here alive to celebrate with us, but I know they would be filled with gratitude and joy that the journey is finally beginning, this beautiful journey of education and, most importantly, action,” Asper said during the ceremony.

A children’s dance finale, representing Canada’s next generation of human rights leaders, concluded the opening ceremonies program.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper wasn’t in attendance. A spokesperson said his schedule did not permit him to be there.

Heritage Minister Shelly Glover, who attended the opening ceremony, said the museum is an important space.

“This is a museum that will provide information and an educational opportunity to so many Canadians, and it’ll make you proud to be a Canadian,” she said.

When asked about the protesters outside, Glover said she would like people to take a look at the museum before judging what’s inside.

Lightning rod for protests, questions

The country’s new national museum is located next to the Forks National Historic Site, where the Red and the Assiniboine rivers meet in downtown Winnipeg.

Designed by world-renowned architect Antoine Predock, the museum with its Tower of Hope and sweeping windows forms a new silhouette on the city’s skyline.

The museum has been a lightning rod for protests, and some academics say they’re concerned the content may be susceptible to interference by governments, donors and special interest groups.

“The most important concern is not the concern of individual communities who are disputing the exact manner in which their wrongs have been depicted, but rather the overall issue of independence,” said Michael Marrus, an expert on international human rights at the University of Toronto.

Glover said at the opening ceremony that the museum “must present a balanced and factually accurate account of both the good as well as the bad.”

Murray said the museum has not been subject to any interference, and the content does expose Canada’s human rights failures.

“You have to shine a light in some dark corners in Canada’s history because we have to know, I think, where we came from to know where we’re going,” he said.

After the People’s Climate March, Flood Wall Street

Organizers with both the People's Climate March and members of the Flood Wall Street team are already framing their work in terms of “after the march,” springboards for long-term climate justice organizing rather than one-off days of action. (Image: floodwallstreet.net)
Organizers with both the People’s Climate March and members of the Flood Wall Street team are already framing their work in terms of “after the march,” springboards for long-term climate justice organizing rather than one-off days of action. (Image: floodwallstreet.net)


by Yates McKee, Common Dreams


Over the past month, the Mayday community space in Bushwick, Brooklyn, has been a buzzing organizational hub in the lead-up to the highly anticipated People’s Climate Mobilization taking place September 20-21 in New York City in advance of the U.N. special session devoted to climate change. But along with providing space and support for the march — including round-the-clock art-making of every conceivable sort — Mayday has also been the incubator for a large scale act of creative civil disobedience planned for lower Manhattan’s Financial District on the morning of Monday, September 22. Entitled Flood Wall Street, the centerpiece of the action is a massive sit-in intended to at once compliment, punctuate and radicalize the politics of the march itself.

Since the basics of the action were released early this month, social media buzz has turned into fever-pitch momentum, with high-profile figures like Naomi Klein, Chris Hedges, and Rebecca Solnit committing themselves to participate in various ways. Also involved is the Climate Justice Alliance, which first put out the call for disruptive direct action over the summer. As energy mounts and commitments roll in from individuals and groups, there is a palpable feeling among organizers that the Monday action has the potential to be an historic watershed, both in its projected scale and the boldness of its message: “Stop capitalism! End the climate crisis!” Potential participants are invited to sign an online “Pledge to #FloodWallStreet” in order to indicate what kind of role they will be able to play in the action.

The symbolic logic of Flood Wall Street is evoked in a beautiful hand-crafted graphic by legendary illustrator Seth Tobocman emblazoned on dozens of signs, flags and banners fabricated during an enormous art-build at Mayday on Sunday: In the image, poisonous effluents ascend into the sky from an archetypical stock exchange building, forming ominous storm clouds emblazoned with the phrase “climate chaos.” The clouds, in turn, rain back into the sea, which surges back toward the land with a tidal wave of human bodies readable as both victims of apocalyptic disaster and agents of a popular storm surging toward the source of the emissions. At once a mythic vision and a simplified diagram of ecological feedback, the image is accompanied by the hashtag #FloodWallStreet.A poster made by Seth Tobocman.


A poster made by Seth Tobocman
A poster made by Seth Tobocman


The stakes of staging an action in the Financial District on September 22 become clear when understood against the backdrop of the People’s Climate Mobilization and some of the tensions surrounding it. This so-called “weekend to bend the course of history” has two primary components, the energies of which Flood Wall Street organizers hope to both draw upon and intensify in their action.

On the first day of the People’s Climate Mobilization, a distributed “climate convergence” — intended to develop grassroots education and cultivate movement networks — will take place at various sites around the city. This convergence is designed to set the stage for the Climate March on September 21, which is expected to draw over a hundred thousand people from around the country into a massive demonstration through midtown Manhattan. The march is a big-tent affair, with a lofty if generic “demand for action, not words,” addressed at once to the assembled leaders at the United Nations and to “the people who are standing up in our communities, to organize, to build power, to confront the power of fossil fuels, and to shift power to a just, safe, peaceful world.”

For all this talk of action, though, the march itself is designed as a traditional street protest, permitted by the New York Police Department with a predetermined route, marshals and barricades. As Chris Hedges pointed out in an inflammatory take-down of the “last gasp of climate liberals” earlier this month, the big organizations funding the march are determined to play it safe, ideologically and tactically. However, the march will provide a platform for groups like the Climate Justice Alliance that place economic and racial justice at the forefront of their organizing, linking the climate crisis to issues of displacement, housing, food sovereignty and solidarity economies. Further, as an aesthetic event, the march promises to be beautifully kaleidoscopic and poetically inspiring thanks to the artistic organizing efforts of the Sporatorium project headquartered at Mayday.

Finally, as with any large march, the possibility of autonomous actions, diversity of tactics, and unforeseen confrontations is high. All this said, however, the backbone logic of the march is one of appealing to the accountability of elected leaders, with a political horizon defined largely in terms of campaigns like fossil-fuel divestment and socially-equitable green jobs programs.

For the purposes of building a wide-ranging populist coalition aiming to bring thousands into the streets to place climate change at the center of the political landscape, these basic principles make a kind of lowest-common-denominator sense. But for many activists in a city that has over the course of the past three years undergone both the upheaval of Occupy Wall Street and the disaster of Hurricane Sandy, the People’s Climate March is, by itself, lacking the teeth necessary to confront the deeper nature of the emergency. “The climate crisis is not just a narrow ‘environmental’ problem of resources or jobs in need of better management,” Flood Wall Street organizer Sandra Nurse said. “It is the supreme symptom of a political and economic system that is bankrupt to its core.”

According to Nurse, the action will project “an explicitly anti-capitalist message” that can take advantage of whatever space is created by Sunday’s march. The setting for the two events is telling: While the one on Sunday is a permitted march through midtown Manhattan, Flood Wall Street is intended to be a disruptive direct action right at the front door of the climate criminals themselves.

At 9 a.m. on Monday, participants are invited to begin gathering at Battery Park just down from the iconic Wall Street bull. People are invited to wear blue and to bring blue materials of all sorts to enhance the visual narrative of a “flood” — including the possibility of a single gigantic blue banner visible from the sky. The brief programming during the gathering-period will involve food, music courtesy of Rude Mechanical Orchestra, and speakers from frontline communities, kicked off by 13-year-old artist-prodigy Ta’Kaiya Blaney of Sliammon First Nation and numerous members of the Climate Justice Alliance from around the world. Also scheduled to speak are high-profile writers like Naomi Klein, Rebecca Solnit and Chris Hedges. Following that will be a mass training session led by direct action specialists Lisa Fithian and Monica Hunken that will combine physical exercises with choreographed ritual intended to symbolically highlight the action-logic of the “flood” in advance of inundating the Financial District with bodies.

For obvious reasons, tactical details about the sit-in are under wraps, but an explicit call has indeed been made for it to occur at 12 p.m. What ultimately transpires is of course a wildcard, but the guiding intention is to stay put and to hold space.

“With the right numbers, the action has the potential to be a game-changer,” organizer Zak Solomon said. “Of all the times for folks to risk arrest, this is a historic occasion to do so with a massive base of support and visibility.” However, Solomon added, “Obviously not everyone is in a position to take an arrest. While no action is ever completely without risk, Flood Wall Street is designed to be inclusive, and to facilitate the participation and support of non-arrestable people, too. The key thing is to have a critical mass of bodies in the Financial District at a moment in which the whole world will be watching New York.

Speaking to this imperative of capitalizing on the global media presence expected in the city for that week, David Solnit, an artist and direct action veteran of the 1999 Seattle WTO protests, described Flood Wall Street as a “counter-spectacle” to the U.N. conference, one that will “intervene and disrupt the hollow public relations spectacle of Obama and the United Nations with the simple message: Corporate capitalism equals climate crisis.”

Flood Wall Street is an evocative metaphor for both ecological crisis and popular power. Yet it also has an uncanny resonance with the recent history of New York City. Indeed, a little more than two years ago, the Financial District was literally engulfed by floodwaters in a scenario that had otherwise seemed imaginable only in a Hollywood disaster fantasy. As evoked in a Flood Wall Street meme, the iconic Wall Street bull was in fact surrounded by seawater. Business was shuttered, power was knocked out, and the skyline went black — except for Goldman Sachs, which had its own private generator system. Strangely, then, the dream of “shutting down Wall Street,” frequently invoked by Occupy, was accomplished not through a massive blockade planned by humans, but rather by the unpredictable force of the global climate system. This era, which has been dubbed the Anthropocene, is one in which the elemental systems that life depends on — water, soil and the atmosphere itself — are fundamentally marked by the traces of human activity, organized according to the dictates of Wall Street.

Thus, while Hurricane Sandy was not a human action, neither can it be considered a “natural” event in any simple sense of the term — a philosophical and political conundrum explored by artist-organizers Not an Alternative in their recently-opened Natural History Museum project. In the words of Tidal magazine, Sandy was a “climate strike” in which, like Frankenstein’s monster, the unintended fruits of Wall Street’s drive for perpetual growth had come home to ripen. As diagrammed in Tobocman’s Flood Wall Street graphic, the carbon-saturated atmosphere doubled back upon those who had treated it as a dumping ground for what neoliberal economists describe as the “externalities” of capitalist progress. What had been treated as an externality — environmental destruction happening to the little people downstream from the centers of profit-making — was now internal to the system itself, with floodwaters literally pouring into the headquarters of the world’s leading financial institutions. The flooding of major urban centers does not bode well for the task of sustaining the global capitalist system, even if profits are certainly to be made along the way. It is clear to almost everyone that something has to change, but the question is by whom and for whom such changes will be made.

This is the question that looms over both the U.N. summit and the People’s Climate March itself. Koch brothers-style climate change denial remains rampant, and superficial corporate greenwashing is more pervasive than ever. But significant segments of the 1 percent are beginning to take climate change seriously, as both a source of risk to be mitigated and a source of profit-making to be mined, whether in the form of new insurance instruments, green luxury development schemes or energy-efficient technologies of all sorts. Indeed, a veritable rogues gallery of climate-profiteering CEOs will be gathering on the same afternoon as Flood Wall Street at the Morgan Library and Museum in midtown Manhattan for a strategic meet up of the Climate Group. Its mission is to foment “the clean revolution,” through what member Tony Blair describes as the group’s “unique ability to convene key business and government stakeholders, communicate the economic opportunities presented by bold climate action, and drive leadership.”

Obviously, the People’s Climate March generally presents a people-centered vision of economic development rather than the profiteering of the Climate Group, but the fundamental question posed by Sandra Nurse remains: “Will we take the climate crisis as an opportunity to reimagine the very meaning and structure of economic life itself, or devote our energies to the signing of treaties and the development of more efficient and humane forms of global capitalism?” As suggested by the popularity of books like Thomas Picketty’s Capital and Naomi Klein’s forthcoming This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, the triple blow of the 2008 crisis, Occupy and Hurricane Sandy in the past five years has helped make “capitalism” a viable object of public critique in the United States rather than the taken-for-granted horizon for all of social life.

The People’s Climate March is undoubtedly a historic occasion, but without the spur provided by direct action and a more comprehensive narrative concerning capitalism itself, it risks becoming a merely beautiful spectacle to match that of the United Nations, making us feel good about ourselves without pushing us beyond our comfort zones. Of course, Flood Wall Street runs this risk too, even if its tactics are planned to be more aggressive and its messaging more militant. For this reason, organizers within both the larger mobilization coalition and the Flood Wall Street team are already framing their work in terms of “after the march,” with the latter understood as a springboard for long-term climate justice organizing rather than a one-off day of action.

Such organizing will take on numerous forms, ranging from the mitigation and adaptation policy tools called for by groups like 350.org to exciting experiments that link fossil-fuel divestment efforts to reinvestment in locally-based, self-organized green economy networks in places like Jackson, Miss., and the Far Rockaways section of Queens. The concept of dual power is relevant here: It means not only forging alliances with diverse groups and supporting demands on existing institutions, but also developing counter-institutions of “commoning” that can provide support for resistance, while testing out forms of non-capitalist life in the face of ongoing crises.

Of all places, the Far Rockaways has pride of place as a reference in upcoming mobilizations. When the climate went on strike against Wall Street during Hurricane Sandy, the entire city paid the price — first and foremost in low-income communities of color with the least access to services, provisions and infrastructure. The dialectical counterpoint to the images of Wall Street underwater are those of physical destruction and human suffering in such areas — the monumental ruins of the Rockaway boardwalk, streets transformed into beaches, homes moldering and uninhabitable, darkened housing projects filled with stranded families. But at the same time, the Rockaways also has a landscape of people-powered relief, reconstruction and resistance that developed in the void of the state. Think of the You Are Never Alone community center, the relief hubs housed in churches overflowing with donations and volunteers, projects like the campaign against the Rockaways natural gas pipeline (which itself has actions planned for the weekend of the People’s Climate Mobilization), and the local chapter of the nation-wide community organizing Wildfire project, which is working long-term to develop sustainable grassroots economies in the face of both further climate disaster and the rapidly accelerating gentrification/displacement process on the peninsula.

The precarious conditions and multifaceted struggles of a place like the Far Rockaways epitomize the challenge of climate justice. According to the Climate Justice Alliance, “The frontlines of the climate crisis are low-income people, communities of color and indigenous communities… We are also at the forefront of innovative community-led solutions that ensure a just transition off fossil fuels, and that support an economy good for both people and the planet.” This is a concept that will strongly inform many of the activities of the climate convergence on September 20, including a special session of Free University NYC called “Decolonize Climate Justice” that will take place at the historic El Jardin community garden on the Lower East Side.

The educational session is devoted to approaching climate crisis through the “experiential lessons” of inequalities based in race, class and migration-status — both in terms of environmental damage, as well as the internal cultures of climate organizing itself: “The face of climate justice activism is often white, Western, middle class and male… As a result, the issues raised by such activism frequently exclude the urgent perspectives and priorities of those most impacted by climate change.”

Informed less by environmentalism as a narrow arena of concern than with a broader vision of collective liberation, the call to “decolonize climate justice,” issued by Free University places climate crisis in a deep sense of historical memory stretching back to the colonial violence at the origins of capitalism itself. This historical vantage point stands as a humbling challenge, and question, for an action like Flood Wall Street: How to use a mediagenic mass arrest as something more than a one-off disruption concerned with just the climate, but instead as a groundbreaking event for a continuous struggle-to-come encompassing landscapes of resistance ranging from the Rockaways to Ferguson to Palestine?

As demonstrated throughout the period of Occupy, taking an arrest in political action can be a radicalizing and life-changing event. But in taking this risk, those with the privilege and support to do so must not lose sight of the systemic violence of incarceration to which low-income communities of color are subject — the very communities that bear the brunt of environmental injustice. Without this level of analysis, the solidarity required for true climate justice cannot be built, and environmentalism risks fading back into the unexamined white, middle class sphere that has long defined it.

As the date approaches, consider the invitation: Come for the climate march, stay for the flood. And if you join the flood, be careful not to get swept away in the beauty of a single action. In the words of Talib Agape Fuegoverde, “May a thousand floods of the people sweep the land in coming years, washing away the walls and borders that capitalism erects to keep our struggles apart.”


Yates McKee is an art critic working in Occupy Wall Street; his work has appeared in venues including October, The Nation and Tidal: Occupy Theory, Occupy Strategy.

“If We Cannot Escape, Neither Will the Coal”

Northwest Tribes and First Nations block fossil fuel exports.

Eric de Place (@Eric_deP) and Nick Abraham, Sightline Daily, September 8, 2014

Across the Northwest, Native communities are refusing to stand idle in the face of unprecedented schemes to move coal, oil, and gas through the region. It’s a movement that could well have consequences for global energy markets, and even the pace of climate change.

Now is a good moment for pausing to examine some of the seminal moments of resistance from tribal opposition to fossil fuel exports. Yesterday, the second Totem Pole Journey came to an end with a totem pole raising ceremony at the Beaver Lake Cree Nation in Alberta. As it did last year, the journey showcased the tremendous breadth and depth of indigenous opposition to coal and oil schemes—spanning Native communities from coastal forests to the high plains interior of North America.

The journey was a reminder not only of the particular moral authority of the tribes and First Nations in the face of fossil plans, but also the fact that they are uniquely equipped to arrest these export plans.

British Columbia

Like the United States, Canada is in the midst of a natural gas boom. The industry is trying desperately to move its products to foreign markets, but concerns about public health, fishing rights, and environmental damage have First Nations raising red flags.

Many of the First Nations in British Columbia have banded together against a liquid natural gas facility at Fort Nelson in northeast BC. At what is now being called the “Fort Nelson Incident” Chief Sharleen Gale gave a rousing speech, saying:

My elders said, you treat people kind, you treat people with respect… even when they are stabbing you in the back. So I respectfully ask government to please remove yourselves from the room.

Gale later asked LNG representatives to leave as well, and the event galvanized the BC aboriginal community. Since then, no fewer than 28 BC First Nation organizations have signed a declaration to put the facility on hold.

Elsewhere in the province, aboriginal communities have been in a long standoff with proponents of the highly controversial Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline, a proposal that would move tar sands oil from Alberta to port facilities in BC where it would be transferred to tankers that would move the crude to Pacific markets. At least 50 First Nation leaders and 130 organizations have signed the “Save the Fraser Declaration.” Citing concerns over water quality, fishing, treaty rights, and sovereignty, nine coastal First Nations even went so far as to preemptively ban oil tankers in their territorial waters.

The Canadian federal government gave approval to the Northern Gateway Pipeline in June, and women of the Gitga’at Nation did not take it lying down. In protest, they stretched a 4.5 kilometer (2.7 mile) crochet chain across the narrow channel near Kitimat, where the export facility is proposed to be built.

“It’s to show that we’re prepared to do what it takes to stop them because we can’t let it happen. It’s the death of our community, our culture,” said Lynne Hill, who generated the idea.

Now, similar opposition is mounting against Kinder Morgan’s planned Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion in southern BC, and BC First Nations are challenging it in court.

Lillian Sam, aboriginal elder from the Nak’al Koh River region, put the situation in perspective:

You cannot eat money…you see the devastation of the oil sands: a huge part of that land is no good. What’s going to happen to us? What’s going to happen to our children?

The US Northwest

Like their neighbors to the north, Washington Tribes have had major concerns over fossil fuel exports, not to mention the way they have been treated by proponents of the projects.

In 2011, the would-be builder of the Gateway Pacific coal terminal near Bellingham got into hot water with permitting agencies after it was discovered that they had begun construction without approval. Not only did construction crews destroy acres of sensitive wetlands, they also damaged local Lummi Nation burial grounds.

It was a not-so-subtle “accident” and was the last straw for many in the local tribal community. The Lummi subsequently burned a mock check from the terminal proponents at the site of the planned coal terminal. It was a pivotal moment for activism in the Northwest.

Opposition from the tribes can be a tremendous barrier for the coal, oil, and gas industries to surmount. Above and beyond their sovereignty, most of the Northwest tribes have specific fishing rights guaranteed to them in their treaties with the US government, rights that were subsequently reaffirmed and clarified by the Boldt Decision of 1974. Those tribes have firm legal footing for demanding access to their “usual and accustomed” fishing grounds, which include most of the places where fuel terminals would be located.

Other Puget Sound tribes have also made it publicly clear that they are firmly against coal exports. In April of last year, tribal leaders joined then-Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn in the Leadership Alliance, a coalition against coal export.

Said Tulalip Tribes Chairman Melvin Sheldon:

When it comes to coal… the negative potential of what it does to our Northwest—we stand with you to say no to coal. As a matter of fact, the Tulalip say ‘hell no’ to coal.

Brian Cladoosby, chairman of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community and one of the state’s most influential Native American leaders, declared:

For thousands of years, Washington State tribes have fought to protect all that is important for those who call this great state home. We as leaders need to protect our treaty resources, our economies, and the human health of our citizens and neighbors.

The Nisqually Tribe likewise has submitted thorough public comment in opposition to a giant coal terminal planned for Longview, Washington. Beloved tribal leader Billy Frank, Jr., who recently passed away, was a persistent voice in opposition to Northwest fossil fuel exports. In one of the last things he wrote, he declared his solidarity with the Quinault Nation, who are fighting against a trio of oil terminals proposed in Grays Harbor Washington. Frank wrote:

The few jobs that the transport and export of coal and oil offer would come at the cost of catastrophic damage to our environment for years. Everyone knows that oil and water don’t mix, and neither do oil and fish, oil and wildlife, or oil and just about everything else. It’s not a matter of whether spills will happen, it’s a matter of when.

East of the Cascades, too, Native opposition has been fierce. The Yakama Tribe came out publicly and powerfully against Ambre’s proposed coal export facility in eastern Oregon, once again citing tribal fishing rights. Yakama protests and tenacity, in conjunction with other regional tribes like the Warm Spring and the Nez Perce, were a major factor in the proposal not being permitted. In Oregon, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation also joined the Yakama in opposition to coal on the Columbia River, batting down ham-fisted attempts by the industry to buy tribal support.

Networks of tribes, like the Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission (CRITFC), also voiced their strong concerns about what the proposals would be mean for their communities. The Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission also declared its strong opposition to oil exports from the proposed site at Grays Harbor, highlighting fishing disruption in the Puget Sound, health problems in their communities, and pollution.

In fact, the 57 nations that make up the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians unanimously voted in May of 2013 to officially oppose all fossil fuel export facilities in the Northwest.

Paul Lumley, executive director of the Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission, may have put the tribal community’s view most clearly:

Our communities are wedged between the railroad and the river. We’ve got nowhere to escape. If we cannot escape, neither will the coal.

Lumley’s words are proving prescient. Last month, yet another Northwest coal export terminal was dealt what was likely a fatal blow. The Oregon Department of State Lands denied a crucial permit to Ambre Energy, which plans to ship coal from a site on the Columbia River. Among the most influential factors the state agency cited for its decision: tribal sovereignty.

The decision was, in some ways, recognition of the power that the region’s tribes and First Nations can exercise over the fossil fuel infrastructure projects that are cropping up across the Northwest. By asserting treaty rights and voicing cultural concerns, tribes are presenting a major barrier—are a key part of the thin green line—to a reckless expansion of coal, oil, and gas schemes.


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Coal, oil train protest blocks Everett rail yard

By: Associated Press, September 2, 2014


(Photo: Emily Johnston)
(Photo: Emily Johnston)


EVERETT, Wash. – About a dozen protesters have blocked railroad tracks at a Burlington Northern Santa Fe yard in Everett.

Railroad spokesman Gus Melonas says some have chained themselves to the tracks. He says the demonstration that started about 6 a.m. Tuesday has blocked freight trains at the yard although the main line remains open.

Everett police spokesman Aaron Snell says officers are standing by. They’ll let BNSF police handle the situation because it’s a trespassing issue.

The demonstration was announced by the group Rising Tide Seattle to protest shipments of oil and coal by train and proposed terminals in the Northwest.

Western Washington tribe brings protest against planned coal export terminal to Spokane


Colin Mulvany photoTotem pole painter and carver Lucy London touches up the paint on a traveling 19-foot totem pole that visited Spokane on Tuesday. The totem pole’s 2,500-mile, two-nation journey includes stops in communities impacted by increased coal and oil rail traffic.
Colin Mulvany photo
Totem pole painter and carver Lucy London touches up the paint on a traveling 19-foot totem pole that visited Spokane on Tuesday. The totem pole’s 2,500-mile, two-nation journey includes stops in communities impacted by increased coal and oil rail traffic.


By: Wilson Criscione The Spokesman-Review


Members of a Western Washington tribe stopped Tuesday near the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Spokane, part of a “totem pole journey” to protest plans to build a coal export terminal north of Bellingham.

The proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal would be located at Cherry Point. According to the project’s website, it would be the largest shipping and warehouse facility on the West Coast, sending dry bulk commodities such as coal, grain and potash to Asian markets.

Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart and congressional candidate Joe Pakootas both spoke out against coal exports at the event, which included Native American songs and a 19-foot totem pole.

Stuckart said the companies and politicians advocating for more coal export terminals are “addicted to fossil fuels.”

He said Spokane serves as a major rail hub for the Inland Northwest and proposed new export terminals, including the Gateway Pacific Terminal, would add an additional 30 miles of trains carrying fossil fuels every day, which could create public safety risks and risk polluting the Spokane River.

Jewell James, with the Lummi tribe, said the terminal would contaminate lands surrounding Cherry Point with arsenic and mercury.

But officials involved in the project say they are taking environmental impacts into consideration.

Craig Cole, a consultant for the Gateway Pacific Terminal Project, said there has never been a more stringent environmental review of a project in the state’s history, and called some of the opposition to the project “nonscientific fear mongering.”

He encourages people to wait for results of an environmental impact statement in two years.

“We’re just saying: Why would you take the word, either of an opponent or proponent of the project, when you can wait for this very extensive environmental impact statement?” Cole said.

The project’s website claims it will provide more than $11 million per year in state and local tax revenue, as well as 1,250 jobs.

“Frankly, I’m more concerned about an overall movement in this state which is aimed at de-industrializing our economy,” Cole said. “There is a very dangerous trend toward opposing anything that has anything to do with industry or manufacturing.”

But James is skeptical.

“No matter what they promise you, it’s still just a promise. In the end, they’re more concerned with the bottom line: Profit,” James said.

Those opposing coal exports scored a victory last week in Oregon, when state regulators rejected a proposal for a coal terminal on the Columbia River that would have exported millions of tons of coal to Asia each year.

James and the Lummi tribe assisted tribes in Oregon in opposing the terminal. He is hoping for a similar result in Washington.

“I hope the people of Spokane and the tribe will start putting pressure on (Governor) Jay Inslee,” James said.

Stuckart said at the event Tuesday that it is unacceptable to use energy independence as a justification to destroy ancestral lands and for rail companies to spill coal in waterways. He said it’s no longer enough to make rail cars safer or to include the city in an environmental impact statement.

“The demand is simple: Leave it in the ground,” Stuckart said.