Jun 29

Day of Action Against Bank of America’s Enbridge Investments!

IMG_1413
The Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MICATS), is currently taking action across the state to put pressure on Bank of America to drop their investment in notorious pipeline company Enbridge!

- In East Lansing protesters are slowing business by forming an endless line inside a bank branch. They will stop business-as usual by making miniscule transactions in-person with bank tellers for the remainder of the business day.
- In Detroit and Ann Arbor local MICATS organizers are delivering letters to bank managers and talking to them about their concern with investing in a deadly company like Enbridge!

waitiing cats

Bank of America, though claiming environmental and humanitarian concerns as a part of its ethics, continues to invest in the highly destructive and carbon emissive extraction of tar sands in Alberta, Canada on land stolen from indigenous groups. BOA owns substantial stock in Enbridge, the company responsible for the 2010 Kalamazoo River oil spill, the ageing Line 5 running under the Mackinaw Bridge that threatens to contaminate the Great Lakes, and the controversial Line 6b that has destroyed Michigan farmland in its stretch across the state. Enbridge in turn transports tar sands oil from Canada through Michigan to refineries farther south.

In May of this year, MICATS formally requested that Bank of America withdraw its investment from Enbridge. The request was made in the context of BOA’s divestment from all coal industry and citation of environmental sustainability as a corporate value earlier this year. However, MICATS received only a brief email which is a non-substantive response to the request.

enbridge cartoon
As concerned people on this planet, we are taking collective action to disrupt the actors that fund Enbridge and the tar sands. We are sending a message that funding climate change has to stop. That owning stock in indigenous genocide has to stop. That fueling the destruction of the planet has to stop.

NO TAR SANDS NO COMPROMISE!

Divest from Enbridge

Jun 19

Fundraising in Solidarity with the Week to End Enbridge

It’s the Week to End Enbridge!

MICATS is tabling right now at the Detroit Allied Media Conference in solidarity with First Nations’ struggles against Enbridge and Enbridge’s dangerous Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline. If built, this pipeline would run from the tar sands extraction zone in Alberta, Canada all the way to Kitimat, “British Columbia”, and from there the tar sands would be shipped via super-tanker ships that would constantly be going in and out through the Douglas Channel into the Pacific ocean. This “double whammy” would threaten both land and water, with a pipeline constantly threatening to leak at any given moment (and we know how bad Enbridge’s safety record is), and with the super-tankers threatening the marine life of the Douglas Channel.

proposed route of the Northern Gateway pipeline

The Northern Gateway Pipeline has already been approved by the Canadian government despite Enbridge and the Canadian government not having sought consent from multiple First Nations who would be affected by the pipeline, as is their right. So they’re taking Enbridge to court. A group known as Pull Together is facilitating a massive fundraiser this week at places all across the continent to challenge Enbridge in the courts, & MICATS is happy to help out!

To help talk up the Northern Gateway pipeline battle, we bought some chocolates from Denman Island Chocolate designed specifically for the Northern Gateway Pipeline battle! They’re really cool:

"Pull Together" bars... chocolate that helps stop pipelines!

“Pull Together” bars… chocolate that helps stop pipelines!

We’re also selling “Stop the Northern Gateway Pipeline!” t-shirts that were graciously designed by an artistic friend of ours in Texas, and printed by one of the MICATS…

Stop the Northern Gateway Pipeline! Image designed by a friend and ally in Texas.

Stop the Northern Gateway Pipeline! Image designed by a friend and ally in Texas.

one of the cats printing "Stop the Northern Gateway Pipeline!" t-shirts

one of the cats printing “Stop the Northern Gateway Pipeline!” t-shirts

Here’s us tabling now (and all this weekend):

Tabling all weekend to resist Enbridge!

Tabling all weekend to resist Enbridge!

Best wishes for First Nations legal battles against Enbridge, as well as all forms of resistance to Enbridge’s tar sands tyranny! Speaking of which, if you’d like to join MICATS in further resisting Enbridge later this summer, you should seriously consider coming to our action camp. ;)

***

For more info on the Northern Gateway pipeline and resistance to it, check out some informational articles below:

Jun 02

Fundraise for Action Camp and Legal Battles

MICATS is organizing and getting very excited to host our third action camp this summer. We need money for food, space reservation, and other details to make sure this camp is even bigger and badder than our first two!
Also, some of us are still in the middle of complicated legal battles. We need funds to cover various court fines.

You can donate to help support these efforts here!

Love and solidarity,
the CATS

May 27

BREAKING: Disruption at Michigan Policy Conference Calls Attention to Aging Mackinac Pipeline

Mackinac Island — Wednesday, May 27th, 2015, 1pm – a group of concerned individuals from across the state of Michigan have just converged at the start of the 2015 Michigan Policy Conference to draw attention to the aging crude oil pipeline known as “Line 5″. Three MICATS organizers disrupted Governor Rick Snyder as he was giving his opening address. One individual, Mariah Urueta, said “To help keep Michigan Pure, shut down Line 5! We do not need another Kalamazoo Oil Spill. Shut down Line 5! And stop the Detroit water shutoffs, those started today too by the way!” Another, Al Smith, unfurled a banner and said “Keep Michigan Pure! Shut down Line 5!”. Others, outside of the Grand Hotel where the conference is being held, chanted and held signs saying “Protect the Great Lakes — Shut Down Line 5!”.

Line 5 is a 62-year-old crude oil pipeline owned and operated by Enbridge, which passes from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula into lower Michigan directly through the pristine freshwaters of the Straits of Mackinac. It has a history of leaks, such as in Crystal Falls in 1999, and in fact leaked liquid natural gas condensate just a few months ago near Manistique. Despite Line 5′s horrible track record, and Enbridge’s deplorable spill history over all, Line 5 is currently not known to have experienced leak directly in the Straits of Mackinac.

When asked about why she was raising awareness about Line 5 at the Michigan Policy Conference, a demonstrator said, “Line 5 is a crime against humanity. To chance spilling so much oil into the largest freshwater drinking supply in the world is inexcusable. We must stop Line 5 before it’s too late!”

Awareness about the threat that Line 5 poses increased significantly around 2013 when despite its age (it’s older than the Mackinac Bridge), Enbridge increased the capacity of the line by 10%. On October 2013, the National Wildlife Federation released a video of an underwater exploration of Line 5 which showed the twin Line 5 pipelines with support struts coming off and hanging in the water. And in July 2014, a study was done by the University of Michigan involving a simulation of how quickly oil would spread through the Great Lakes if a Line 5 spill were to occur.

Despite all this, Line 5 is still pumping oil through the Straits. Enbridge appears to be fighting back with a policy change, through House Bill 4540 (dubbed by some as the “Pipeline Secrecy Bill”), that would prevent concerned communities from finding out about whether Line 5 is even being regulated adequately. A “Michigan Petroleum Pipeline Task Force” has been convened to determine what to do about Line 5; it is chaired by Attorney General Bill Schuette.

Disruption at the Michigan Policy Conference!

Disruption at the Michigan Policy Conference!

The disruption comes at the heels of a rally and demonstration organized by Oil and Water Don’t Mix, a state-wide coalition of groups unified over the goal to decommission and shut down Line 5.

The Michigan Policy Conference brings together dozens of legislators in the US and Michigan Senate and House of Representatives as well as countless other select individuals to discuss policy, legislation, and economy for the state of Michigan. The high-class policy conference is incidentally inaccessible to most, as conference tickets are about $2,000-$3,000 per person.

What You Can Do

This is a huge issue and it affects millions of people’s lives. It’s our lives and our environment versus the private profits of a single corporation that destroyed the Kalamazoo River in 2010, and some of their investors and partners.

So guess what!

There’s no cookie-cutter solution to how to stop this pipeline. If there were it would’ve been stopped already. A bunch of concerned folks have come all the way to Mackinac Island to make their voices heard and give Michigan “policy makers” a piece of their mind. Others have spoken out publicly about how Line 5 constantly threatens their livelihood and the beauty of the Straits. A whole bunch of us have come together as an entire coalition to stop this pipeline… get involved at OilandWaterDontMix.org . And MICATS has plans of its own later this summer, stay tuned for more info on how you can get involved!

So we urge you to learn about the issues and do whatever you can think to! We must raise awareness about this constantly looming threat to the Great Lakes however we can.

May 15

Respect Dinosaur Graves

In the spirit of other divestment campaigns such as the International Solidarity Movement around ending the occupation of Palestine, the anti-apartheid divestment movement in South Africa and the growing movement to divest from fossil fuels, Michigan Coalition Against Terrible Stuff is calling on two big financial institutions to divest from Enbridge. We are urging both Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase to divest from Enbridge. Both institutions claim to have a vested interest in environmental sustainability. And while multi-national capitalist entities will never be sustainable, divesting from Enbridge is a strong move. Here is the letter to Bank of America. Feel free to reproduce it and send one too!
Divest from Enbridge

Letter to Bank of America:
To Whom it May Concern Regarding Environmental Sustainability,

My name is [your name here] and I am writing to you on behalf of the Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MICATS). I am writing because Bank of America invests in the Canadian pipeline company Enbridge Incorporated. Because of the devastating effects that the pipelines operated by Enbridge Incorporated have had on our communities, we have been resisting the expansion and continued operation of Enbridge’s pipelines. Additionally, the effects of the oil sands industry on climate change have been well documented. It has been estimated that a 0.4 degree Celsius increase would occur from burning the tars sands in Alberta.
I know that Bank of America prides itself on stopping the harmful effects of climate change. I was very pleased to learn that just recently you have backed away from funding coal mining. This is a commendable step on the journey toward a sustainable future. However, Bank of America still owns about 2.24 million shares of Enbridge Incorporated. If Bank of America really wants to address climate change and the destruction that Enbridge has brought upon affected communities, then Bank of America must stop funding Enbridge.
MICATS is asking that Bank of America divest from Enbridge not because it is an option, but because it is a necessity to protect the future of our planet.
I look forward to your response to this letter. A response by June 1st would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and I trust that Bank of America will make a life affirming decision on this matter.

Sincerely,
[your name and contact info here] Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands

Send it to

Bank of America
Attn: FL1-300-01-29
PO Box 25118
Tampa, FL 33633-0900

Letter to Chase Bank

To Whom it May Concern Regarding Environmental Sustainability,

My name is [your name here] and I am writing to you on behalf of the Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MICATS). I am writing because JP Morgan Chase invests in the Canadian pipeline company Enbridge Incorporated. Because of the devastating effects that the pipelines operated by Enbridge have had on our communities, we have been resisting the expansion and continued operation of Enbridge’s pipelines. Additionally, the effects of the oil sands industry on climate change have been well documented. It has been estimated that a 0.4 degree Celsius increase would occur from burning the tars sands in Alberta.
I know that JP Morgan Chase & Co prides itself on a dedication to sustainable investing. Your website touts that you are committed to “reduce environmental and social risks”. This is a commendable step on the journey toward a sustainable future. However, Chase still owns about 4.13 million shares of Enbridge Incorporated. If Chase really wants to address sustainability and the destruction that Enbridge has brought upon affected communities, then Chase must stop funding Enbridge.
MICATS is asking that JP Morgan Chase & Co divest from Enbridge not because it is an option, but because it is a necessity to protect the future of our planet.
I look forward to your response to this letter. A response by June 1st would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and I trust that Chase will make a life affirming decision on this matter.

Sincerely,
[your name and contact info here] Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands

send to:
National Bank By Mail
P O Box 36520
Louisville, KY 40233-6520

May 06

New Michigan Pipeline Secrecy Bill Slammed; Industry Proposal Would Hide Safety Records

Legislation Would Conceal Pipeline Inspections, Put Great Lakes At Risk

This release was jointly done by the Sierra Club, Clean Water Action and FLOW (For Love Of Water)

Tuesday, May 5, 2015 — LANSING, MI – Citizens groups sharply criticized proposed legislation introduced today that would permanently block public access to pipeline safety records in Michigan, including for high-risk pipelines running through the Straits of Mackinac operated by the controversial Canadian oil conglomerate Enbridge, Inc.

The sweeping bill, House Bill 4540, which would amend Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act, goes beyond federal rules governing pipeline records disclosure. It would exempt virtually all oil and natural gas pipeline information from public disclosure and is being sought by Enbridge, responsible in 2010 for the nation’s largest inland oil spill near Kalamazoo.

“Enbridge has a questionable safety record and desperately wants to keep critically important pipeline safety information from the public,” said Nic Clark, Michigan Director of Clean Water Action. “This bill exploits the public’s legitimate concerns over national security to cloak the real purpose for Enbridge, which is to keep secret its safety and other records.”

Enbridge’s twin Line 5 pipelines through the Straits of Mackinac have been the subject of intense public interest since it was revealed in early 2014 that the Eisenhower-era lines pose a serious threat to the Great Lakes and northern Michigan communities and businesses. A special task force of state officials assembled last June is expected to issue a report this month on the pipelines. The Michigan Petroleum Pipeline Task Force, however, has been meeting behind closed doors, releasing only press releases and presentations. Meanwhile, Enbridge and the task force have kept most documents secret under an elaborate arrangement involving a password-protected website fashioned by Enbridge.

“Enbridge wants a blanket exemption from disclosing critical pipeline safety records and that’s not acceptable,” said Liz Kirkwood, Executive Director of FLOW, a water policy and education center based in Traverse City. “At any moment, a pipeline spill could contaminate the Great Lakes and collapse the northern Michigan tourist economy. We need to know more, not less, about the safety of Enbridge’s pipelines and all pipelines in Michigan.”

The proposed legislation was introduced today by state Rep. Kurt Heise (R-Plymouth). An Enbridge lobbyist has been working behind the scenes in recent weeks to line up support to exempt pipelines from Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act, which requires public disclosure of most public records.

hb4540

“What Michigan needs is more transparency about the pipeline’s safety, potential harm, and alternative routes, not less,” said David Holtz, Chair of the Michigan Chapter of Sierra Club. “Pipelines leak, and as we saw in Kalamazoo, when there’s a breach, it can be catastrophic. Yet Enbridge refuses to release any documents related to pipeline inspections and now wants the State of Michigan to sanction that secrecy.”

Enbridge’s efforts to close off access to pipeline safety documents through an exemption to Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act comes on the heels of a report revealing that a two-year-old pipeline operated in Missouri by TransCanada suffered major corrosion, with 95% corrosion in one section of the pipe. The report was based on documents obtained under the federal Freedom of Information Act.

“In Missouri you have a 21st Century pipeline that had to be shut down and the only reason we know the details is because the law required the documents to be released publicly,” said Jim Lively, Program Director, Michigan Land Use Institute. “In Michigan we have pipelines running through the Great Lakes, under extremely volatile conditions, and these pipelines were constructed in 1953 during an era where color television was the newest technology. Yet Enbridge wants to keep the safety of these pipelines secret.”

Thousands of Michigan residents and visitors have signed a petition urging Governor Rick Snyder to order open public hearings on the oil pipelines in the Straits and alternatives to eliminate the risk of a catastrophic spill.

“We expect openness and transparency,” said Peggy Case, President of Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation. “What we are getting from Enbridge in this proposed legislation is defiance.”

Apr 22

The Whammer’s Restitution Hearing and Stopping a Nasty Class-Action Settlement

i stand with chrisPress Advisory:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 20th 2015
Contact:
Chris Wahmhoff
269-547-9504
micats@riseup.net
whammy737@gmail.com
GROUP CALLS FOR RESIDENTS TO STEP BACK FROM SETTLEMENT AT HEARING
WHO: MI CATS (Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands)
WHAT: Call for steps against the Enbridge Class Action Settlement on May 5
WHERE: Outside of the Justice Complex at 161 E. Michigan Ave., Battle Creek, MI 49014
WHEN: Friday, April 24, following the restitution hearing at 8:30am
WHY: The purpose of this demonstration will be to raise awareness and call for any residents living within 1000 feet of the Kalamazoo River in the impacted area of the spill almost five years ago, to help support an objection for this class action to move to trial or to withdraw from this settlement that will give the company responsible for the spill (Enbridge) control of their water testing and a deceitfully low compensation for the “largest inland oil spill in U.S. history (EPA).”
There will be statements and a direct action happening to rally awareness, along with guest speakers and details on how affected residents can learn more about the settlement, as well as legal support and direction for those who wish to fight for more compensation and health protection from this spill that included potentially hundreds of toxic chemicals.
The Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MI CATS) seeks to unite people towards a common goal of stopping all transportation and refining of tar sands oil in the Great Lakes Basin and advocating against the production/transportation of tar sands everywhere.

Defend the water! And support those who have put their freedom on the line! Join Chris, the CATS, the community, and all concerned individuals this Friday at 8:30!!!

Apr 01

BREAKING: CEO of Enbridge Inc. Turns Himself In For Corporate Crimes Against Humanity & Environment

Note: this story was published on April Fools’ Day. We wish it were true…

***

Calgary, Alberta — Wednesday, April 1st, 2015, 10am MDT — Al Monaco, President and CEO of Enbridge Inc., has turned himself in to RCMP officials at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Calgary station. He confessed to hundreds of crimes perpetrated by corporate “person” Enbridge Inc. as well as himself personally.

Monaco submitted a 41-page document detailing the crimes he and Enbridge confessed to, including lying about the safety measures implemented on its North American pipeline infrastructure, criminal negligence in pipeline construction and maintenance, bullying and intimidating landowners into signing land condemnation agreements in order to advance its pipeline infrastructure, negligence and intentional failure to adequately address the destruction of the Kalamazoo River for years after the rupture of pipeline 6B, and intimidation of and monitoring of protestors of this corporation.

Commenting on his use of gloves, arresting officer Don Uts said, "I couldn't fathom directly touching such a dirty criminal with my bare hands."

Commenting on his use of gloves, arresting officer Don Uts said,
“I couldn’t fathom directly touching such a dirty criminal with my bare hands.”

Monaco announced his intentions to turn himself in on his personal Twitter account, @BigAlMonaco, a few hours earlier this morning. The announcement spread quickly, and dozens of both supporters and opposers were there to watch Monaco be arrested. Monaco had this to say to onlookers before being zip-tied:

“I just couldn’t sleep at night.”

“I realized that what my corporation and I were doing was wrong, but didn’t know what to do about it. It definitely didn’t help that there weren’t enough people speaking out when we bullied landowners or indigenous peoples into accepting our nefarious operations, and it didn’t help that our dirty fossil fuel products were always highly in demand, until recently anyway. And it certainly isn’t a help that the Obama and Harper Administrations deny the severity of climate change and fail to take steps to make tar sands and other fossil fuels less marketably palatable. And most importantly, my friends were no help when I tried to confide in them about all this.”

“I’m sorry to everyone we’ve wronged. I’m sorry to Kalamazoo, sorry to indigenous communities where we extract tar sands as well as refinery communities that deal with the toxic byproducts of our operations seeping into their very lungs. I’m sorry to everyone who lives near one of our leaky-as-shit pipelines which are all over this continent. Especially Line 5, our 62-year-old petroleum pipeline that runs directly through the Great Lakes and is a constant threat to it. And I’m sorry to future generations which will have to deal with catastrophic climate change as a result of all this.”

“I realize that turning myself in can only be a symbolic act at best. I realize that the Enbridge Board of Directors will likely disclaim everything I’m saying right now, and will probably call me a lunatic. And they’ll probably just find another CEO and all this bullshit will just continue. But at least my conscience will be clear.”

“As for the rest of you all, I urge you to stop wanting our products. Boycott Enbridge, reduce your dependence on energy if that’s what it takes. Speak out when your neighbors and community are under attack. Disrupt our corporate activities whenever you can, but be civil and non-violent about it. Stop Enbridge, save us from ourselves, because we really know not what we do.”

Update: only a few hours later, Monaco and Enbridge have been charged with 210 misdemeanor and 7,432 felony counts. Monaco’s bail has been set at $1,000,000,000,000,000,000 Canadian dollars. His first hearing has been set for April 22nd, which, coincidentally, is Earth Day.

Mar 19

Manifesto

2014-07-08 20.53.40
When MICATS was born, the landscape here in Michigan was different. Enbridge was not often mentioned in the national rhetoric on tar sands, the infamous Line 6B was in the middle of being expanded, and Michigan was barely on the map in the world of tar sands activism, despite being home to the largest and costliest inland tar sands oil spill in this country’s history: the Kalamazoo River Spill. The community of southeast Michigan was suffering largely in silence from racist and calculated poisoning at the hands of Marathon Oil, the refinery that has been using Detroit as a dumping ground for decades. Silenced, ignored, and disregarded by decision-makers and regulatory bodies, this community is a classic example of environmental injustice and racism and is complicit in the perpetuation of tar sands crimes.

Now — over a year and a half later — 6B is in the ground, the community in southwest Michigan is still reeling from the effects of the spill in 2010, and an increased volume of tar sands is flowing through southern Michigan with the intention of exporting it from terminals on the east coast. Residents of Detroit are still being denied their basic rights to clean air and water as Marathon continues to spew out toxic gases and the city continues to shut down people’s access to water.

Despite all of this, over the past few years, MICATS has gone from being just an idea to an entity feared by Enbridge and the state and we’ve gotten stronger, wiser, and more fierce as our strategy and analysis has developed along our journey.

In February 2013, we began organizing in response to the rapid and insidious expansion of the Enbridge pipeline responsible for the 2010 Kalamazoo River tar sands spill. Once the expansion was complete, this line — known as 6B — was expected to carry over double the capacity of tar sands oil to refineries in the region, including Marathon in Detroit. Having exhausted the avenues available to the public to stop this expansion, there seemed to be little hope left. It was from this desperation and urgency that MICATS began taking direct action to throw a wrench in the project’s progression and draw attention to Enbridge’s unjust, toxic, and hastily carried out business plans.

From tree sits to lockdowns, facing felonies and jail time, MICATS remained committed to its mission: to stop the transportation and refinement of tar sands oil in the Great Lakes Basin. During this time however, we also remained realistic. With the power, collusion, and monetary strength of a company like Enbridge combined with the iron fist of the state, it was going to be unlikely that the actions of a fledgling group would ultimately prevent the completion of the expansion.

And that takes us to where we are now. Line 6B is in the ground running and Enbridge’s Line 5 — a tar sands pipeline that is over 60 years old and literally hanging under the Straits of Mackinac in the Great Lakes — is a continual threat to one of the world’s largest supplies of fresh water. A spill in this fragile and critical zone would rival the size of the Exxon Valdez.

But our mission and resolve to stop tar sands has only strengthened with Line 6B in the ground. While we began as the Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands, we understand the intricate and inextricable connection between the tar sands industry and other issues of injustice. The same authorities and governments profiting from the tar sands industry are those striking social programs, leading to increased criminalization of the poor and non-white and propagating the genocide of ecosystems and lifestyles. The same tactics used to ensure the maintenance of a culture built from slavery and genocide are the tactics used to protect industrial giants such as Enbridge. So while we are the Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands, you could also call us the Michigan Coalition Against Terrible Stuff!

We believe it is wrong to profit from the exploitation of another. We believe in a world where fear and greed are not the driving forces behind the decisions and actions of the powerful, where integrity guides communities, and where all living things can live in harmony and balance with one another. This, however, is not a lofty and cushy dream that fails to recognize the suffering and sacrifice that is taking place with this vision in mind.

Inspired by successful and strategic campaigns of the past and remaining true to our beginnings, we are launching a new phase of our organizing where we will aim to end Enbridge’s exploitation in a new way. Being one of the largest tar sands profiteers in the world, Enbridge relies on numerous investors, suppliers, contractors, and the like to do its work. We have developed an understanding of these companies and will be encouraging folks to take action to call out the connection between these companies and the tar sands industry. Many of these companies are already known for atrocities they commit either directly or indirectly, so there are plenty of reasons to call them out for their unethical means of profiteering.

Calling all CATS! No matter where you are, if you hate tar sands, terrible stuff, or both, we want you to start shaking the strongholds that support the exploitative Enbridge Empire with us. We want to choke the arteries and veins that feed the heart of the tar sands industry by focusing on the subsidiaries that serve to make tar sands destruction possible.

With fierce determination and love,

MICATS

Jan 22

Report-Back: Duncan and Dylan’s Sentencing

Written by a cat.

CATS traveled from great distances to support Duncan and Dylan (D&D) at their sentencing for the August 2014 “Hiss and Scratch” against Enbridge. The outside was nearly freezing, and it began to snow soon after we arrived at the Oakland County Courthouse. D&D arrived dutifully at 8:30am, but the court wasn’t ready for them till about 10am. We all walked into the courtroom and took our seats, and waited for a few minutes as Judge Julie A. Nicholson handled other cases. They were done quickly, and Nicholson was soon ready for D&D.

An "artistic depiction" of the court proceedings in lieu of a photograph (cameras weren't allowed in the courtroom).

An “artistic depiction” of the court proceedings in lieu of a photograph (cameras weren’t allowed in the courtroom).

There isn’t much to say about how court went other than that it went about as quickly as the other cases. Sadly, the court didn’t seem to hold any space for a deeper understanding of why Duncan and Dylan acted… in the eyes of this justice system, dry as bread so stale that it’s brittle and close to crumbling, Duncan and Dylan literally “committed a crime”. Duncan and Dylan were seen, by this justice system, as irresponsible and impulsive youngsters, as opposed to humans of conscience who couldn’t wait and watch as others destroyed the land, environment, and planet. The court seemed especially concerned about Dylan, who was allegedly “unremorseful” about his action. Dylan, though, was allowed to at least say this to the court:

Your honor, I’ve been actively involved in organizing and education in communities surrounding southwest Detroit, the most polluted zip code in Michigan. The crime I pleaded guilty to was an act of civil disobedience, a peaceful form of protest. I never intended to suggest that I would not comply with the court’s orders for my action.

Soon after, Dylan was sentenced to 12 months probation, $480 for probation costs, a $75 “Crime Victim Assessment”, and $175 “State Minimum Costs”, a choice between 10 days in jail or 10 days of work through a “WWAM” program of some sort (of which Dylan chose the latter, which costs an additional $150), verification of employment, and no contact with Precision Pipeline as well as “Enbridge employees and/or worksites”. Even the court-appointed attorney was visibly embarrassed to ask for no contact with Enbridge because she couldn’t identify Enbridge as having any offices in the state of Michigan or anywhere in the US for that matter (though in fact they do have offices in Michigan as well as elsewhere in the US). This was just another case of the state going out of its way to act in the interests of a multinational corporate behemoth.

Duncan was sentenced to 12 months of probation and the same various costs and no-contact stipulations as Dylan, along with 40 hours of community service and to go through an “impulse control program” (as if that’s the cure to stop unruly environmental defenders while Earth is on the brink of collapse). He was offered “HYTA” status, which means that because he’s under 21 years old, he’s eligible to have the offense wiped from his record.

***

What was perhaps the most disturbing part of the day was the so-called “restitution hearing” that was to happen right after D&D’s sentencing. In restitution hearings, one party allegedly owes another party some money (the “restitution”), and the hearing happens if the two parties cannot agree on how much money is owed. In this case, Precision Pipeline LLC is requesting a restitution of $39,226.30 from D&D. Most notably, this request was presented not by a Precision representative but the court attorney because Precision Pipeline wouldn’t bother paying a representative to come to court. Precision’s project manager for the site of the action, Steven Grice, couldn’t make it to the hearing, because he was off doing something else in West Virginia. Furthermore, Precision couldn’t even be bothered to keep up correspondence with the court attorney in a timely manner.

So, the court attorney ended up asking judge Nicholson, *in the last minute*, to reschedule the restitution hearing to a later date so that Steven Grice could participate via video conference, which the court admitted out loud to not even knowing how to arrange at the time. The court granted that motion, so the restitution hearing has been rescheduled to Tuesday, January 27th, 2015.

The court attorney took the extra mile to defend Precision Pipeline’s right to a restitution hearing, despite that Precision Pipeline couldn’t even be bothered to show up, or even simply to communicate with the court about what their intentions were in a timely manner. And at the technical expense of setting up a video conference just for Precision, to boot, on an entirely different day, at last-minute notice. All this shows that the court attorney either truly believes in Precision’s work for the community (ha!), or rather, that perhaps there’s a financial stake in it for them.

***

Going Forward

Here are some things you can do to support Duncan, Dylan and MICATS!

1) Spread the word! Write op-eds about the protest and Precision and Enbridge, write to your friends, have conversations! Make plans of your own…

2) Support MICATS financially! Court costs, including the extra expected costs of gas, go to over $2,000. To help with that, go to www.everribbon.com/micats

3) Come support Duncan and Dylan at the restitution hearing! Tuesday, January 27th, at 1:15pm, at 700 Barclay Circle, Rochester Hills, MI 48307

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