Apr 16

BREAKING: Tree-Sitter to Spend 26 Days in Jail for Enbridge Protest

La Porte, Indiana – Jessica Clark pleaded guilty to criminal trespass in a La Porte County courthouse and was sentenced to 26 days in prison for blocking construction of Enbridge’s Line 6B tar sands pipeline. Today Jessica had the choice between two plea deals, one being 1 year of probation and the other 26 days in jail. Jessica chose to accept jail time in order to avoid a lengthy probationary period and to highlight the injustice of tar sands industry, while standing in solidarity with political prisoners across the globe.

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On August 7, 2013 Jessica spent several hours in a tree in order to prevent Enbridge from expanding its tar sands pipeline in the area. Despite having a written agreement with the police saying that she would not be arrested if she came down from the tree by 5pm, Jessica was eventually arrested and charged with a misdemeanor criminal trespass.

Shortly after her arrest and subsequent release from jail, Jessica took to the trees again on September 16th in La Porte County, again preventing construction activities from occurring. From both actions Jessica was charged in total with two counts of trespass and one count of theft.

Both tree-sits were in opposition to Enbridge’s expansion activities on the same pipeline which bursted in July 2010, causing what is now regarded as the largest inland tar sands spill in US history. The disaster led to 900 thousand gallons of diluted bitumen spilling into Talmadge Creek and eventually into over 40 miles of the Kalamazoo River. To date, the spill has not been cleaned up, and Enbridge continues to prioritize the pipeline’s expansion over cleaning up the disastrous mess the pipeline left behind.

Today Jessica will go to jail for taking action against a company and an industry that is committing violent crimes across North America in order to make a profit from tar sands. The extraction of tar sands oil in Alberta, Canada is destroying the Northern Boreal Forest, displacing First Nations peoples, perpetuating climate change, and increasing cancer rates in indigenous communities and wildlife nearby. When this oil reaches the Midwest via pipelines it creates sacrifice zones in the communities surrounding the refinery in places like Whiting, Indiana and southwest Detroit. These refineries have recently upgraded to handle even more tar sands. This has contributed to a toxic environment for many people in the area due to the by-products that result in refining this substance, such as petroleum coke.

Jessica made this statement in front of the court today, just before being taken away:

I grew up a mile from Lake Michigan. I rode my bicycle there many mornings to watch the sunrise. BP just spilled 1,638 gallons of oil, probably tar sands into Lake Michigan. This is the inevitability of the tar sands industry- it is sloppy and poorly regulated. There are unreported spills every hour, but it is well funded, and easy for companies like Enbridge to pay off governmental agencies to influence them to make statements like “No long-term health effects expected from 2010 Kalamazoo River oil spill.” I climbed that tree in September to highlight the injustice of tar sands, and to halt expansion of Enbridge pipeline 6B. As a resident of the greater Kalamazoo River basin, I am conscious of the ways in which corporations such as Enbridge, Marathon and BP turn ecosystems and communities into sacrifice zones in the name of profit. The people of Marshall and surrounding communities that endured the spill have been dealing with intense health implications such as kidney and liver failure, and cancer. July 27, 2010 when Enbridge spilled around a million gallons of tar sands into the Kalamazoo River, should have been the end of the line. Tar sands should no longer be pumping through the Great Lakes bio region. We have to leave tar sands in the ground. The governmental agencies need to stop valuing profit over health and safety of communities.

Tar sands from Canada are actively killing indigenous people in the boreal forest as their water and land are polluted by around 39 companies that are active there. The concept of “infinite growth” that underlines capitalism is not at all logical on a planet with finite resources. Enbridge, Marathon and BP, these “corporate people”, and the attitude of entitlement are actively enabling the apocalypse. Climate change is another main reason I climbed the tree- all reputable organizations of scientists endorse the statement “Most of the global warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities.” Our species will not continue this way. The jury is no longer out, there are things we can do about this fact. Halting the problem at the root is a viable solution. The green house gas emissions must stop. Carbon emissions must stop. Stomping on the rights of indigenous people must stop.

I am calling for a revolution of values. As a society, we need to re-consider what happiness actually is. Happiness is not a comfortable middle class lifestyle at the cost of ecosystems, water and health, and comfort of others. Happiness is not getting so drunk or zonked out on television that you forget about the smog cloud of guilt in your gut for polluting neighborhoods and ecosystems. Happiness is not living next to a refinery, or downstream from tar sands strip mine. It is not living next to a rare earth mineral mine. Happiness is building resilient communities, growing food in our own neighborhoods and fostering independence from global capitalism.

It is essential that we come together and organize ourselves in the spirit of resilience. We cannot live on a dead planet. We cannot drink their money. We need each other to stop these industries from threatening our livelihoods. It is essential we resist harsh extraction and the attitude of human entitlement, colonialism and patriarchy that enable the earth to be commodified. We need to grow organic, bio-dynamic food in our own communities to become independent, to soften the collapse that climate change will incur. We need to stop the movement of tar sands once and for all. Leave the tar sands in the ground.

She then added the note that as she enters jail, the people responsible for violently polluting and harming people’s lives walk free. It is Enbridge which should be prosecuted, not her.

The judge and some of the other court officials had a pensive look on them through Jessica’s speech. It seemed reasonably clear that presentations like Jessica’s didn’t occur too regularly there. After Jessica spoke, the judge responded, and seemed on the face of it to empathize with Jessica’s sense of justice, but lamented Jessica’s decision to choose a month of jail over a year of probation.

Jessica was thereafter taken into police custody, and was not even given a chance to hug her mother goodbye. She was escorted out of the courtroom by a police officer, but a crowd of Jessica’s supporters followed her out. Outside of the courtroom, Jessica’s mother was fortunately able to steal a kiss for her daughter to the chagrin of the police officer, who defended his strictness by arguing that the Department of Corrections dictates the rules he must follow, not he himself.

As of this writing, Jessica has been in prison for only a few hours and has already donated a dozen books of socially conscientious literature to the jail library through an arrangement made earlier.

How You Can Support Jessica

Write to her! Letters can be written on any-sized paper but not with colored pens or markers. Please also include a return address with first and last name, otherwise the letter will not be delivered. For a fuller sense of restrictions, click here.

Jessica Clark
809 State Street Suite 201A
La Porte, IN 46350

Jessica can also receive books, but they must come directly from the publisher (Amazon or Barnes & Noble doesn’t count). Here are some of the types of books she likes:

The Architecture of Infinite Justice
Listening to Grasshoppers
Walking with the Comrades
fantasy books
books about radical social change
anything about farming
anything about herbalism

Lastly we’d like to note that Jessica cannot process foods containing gluten. It remains to be seen whether the jail will do what’s necessary to accommodate her dietary needs. If they don’t, we may be calling on you to help us apply the needed pressure!

Apr 15

“Chase” Them Out! Our Call for a 24-Hour Earth Day Occupation in Front of Chase Bank

We’re calling for a 24-hour fast and occupation on Tuesday, April 22nd, in front of Chase bank in downtown Kalamazoo. Why? Because JP Morgan Chase owns 4.66 million shares in Enbridge Energy, the company responsible for the July 2010 spill of diluted bitumen into Talmadge Creek which led to the shutdown of 40 miles of the Kalamazoo River and which still hasn’t been cleaned up to this day.

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This Earth Day, we’ll be occupying the public space outside of Chase Bank to bring attention to Enbridge, and companies that invest in Enbridge, to make people aware of who’s invested in the irreversible devastation of Kalamazoo’s land and water. Four years later, the Kalamazoo river is still not clean and not even safe enough to swim in. Why haven’t we driven JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Enbridge out of Kalamazoo by now? They are not welcome here.

Though in the spirit of giving credit where it’s due, in recognizing that things aren’t always black and white, we’d like to recognize a seemingly good thing that Chase has recently done: a few days ago JP Morgan Chase announced that it’ll be updating its environmental policy and ending financial relationships with companies engaged in mountaintop removal for coal mining. Not too little too late, an important step in the right direction. But Chase is still, by and large, invested in the environmental devastation of Kalamazoo and many other communities dealing with unwelcome tar sands exploitation, as well as the planet at large due to the threat tar sands and other forms of extreme energy extraction pose to the global climate.

We invite anyone with a reason to be against Chase, of which there are (still) many, to join us.

This protest will run all day and night on April 22nd, from midnight to midnight, and will be at 141 E Michigan Ave, Kalamazoo, MI. Protestors will be camped out in tents and will be publicly sleeping on the sidewalk. Signs and symbols will adorn the space surrounding Chase bank.

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This Earth Day, and beyond, we’ll also be calling on the city council to enact a ban on swimming in the Kalamazoo river. The EPA says the water is safe to swim in, but they’ve been saying that for years, and it’s just not true. The EPA will happily place Enbridge’s reputation over and above the safety of Kalamazoo’s children and families. We can’t let them risk people’s health and safety, and demand a ban on swimming in the Kalamazoo river.

Events scheduled throughout the day include speakouts, press conferences, dance and song performances, and an interfaith candlelight vigil. Additionally, elected officials will be invited to speak. More information on the occupation will be available as April 22nd draws near. But don’t wait for more news from us! We could use all the help we can get– get involved! Email micats@riseup.net to connect with us.

Stay tuned as well for the word on solidarity occupations occurring at other Chase banks near you!

Apr 08

Years of Living Dangerously- Episode 1

Have you heard of this new Showtime series on climate change yet? There’s been a lot of buzz around this lately and MI CATS has been offered the link to the first full episode to share with our network.

According to Showtime, this series will focus on the human stories related to climate change and will be presented by popular famous people, with the idea being that people aren’t taking climate change seriously enough despite knowing the science. They’ve been coordinating with enviro non-profits from across the country to get out the first episode online.

Check it out and let us know what you think. We haven’t watched it yet, but we’re hoping it gets at the root causes and reflects the unjust ways in which climate change disproportionately affects some groups of people based on historical and ingrained systems of oppression. We’d also be pretty stoked about a production that frames the human costs of the climate crisis in a way that truly respects and pays homage to those who have been resisting for a long time already, like many indigenous groups.

If you want to watch this with friends and live near Ann Arbor, here is a showing being hosted by Ann Arbor 350 on Sunday evening. 

Here’s the link if the embedded version doesn’t work for you- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brvhCnYvxQQ

Mar 26

The Cost of Comfort is Too Much

The newly expanded BP Whiting Refinery, thanks to recent updates is responsible for refining 413,000 barrels of tar sands per day. On Monday, March 24th, the BP Refinery, spewed tar sands into Lake Michigan. A Whiting resident was travelling down 129th St near Indianapolis Blvd on Sunday March 23rd when she spotted a massive plume rising from the distillation tower. She suspected it may have been an explosion. The same “new and improved” refinery spilled an undetermined amount of tar sands into Lake Michigan yesterday afternoon. Sources are unclear on how much was spilled, but between 380-500 gallons are speculated. A resident believes the spill happened between 2 and 4:30 pm yesterday. When the EPA, Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM), and the Coast Guard were informed of the spill, it took about 18 hours for the media to break the story the next morning; fishy…

Clean up crews

Based on preliminary information, BP believes that a wonky crude distillation unit sent crude oil into the refinery’s cooling water outflow pipe and then spewed tar sands crude into lake Michigan. Lake Michigan provides 7 million people with drinking water and is unquantifiably valuable part of the Great Lakes bioregion.

While there has been no independent environmental impact study has thus far, the EPA claims “the spill presented no threat to human health or wildlife.” There is no evidence cited for these claims. BP itself is unclear on the environmental impact. The EPA may have based this statement on the fact that sheen was no longer visible by 8:30 this morning. The presence of approximately 5,400 tar balls within a half mile of shoreline indicates that chemical dispersants may have been deployed, or were mixed in with the tar sands oil as a diluent. Chemical dispersants, or surfactants such as corexit are banned in the Great Lakes bio region and pose great danger to human and animal populations. Dispersants bind with crude oil, and cause oil to sink. The EPA continues to deny that chemical dispersants were used in the Kalamazoo River .

 

Document found after spill, proving surfactant use during "clean up" of 2010 spill

Document found after spill, proving surfactant use during “clean up” of 2010 spill

Enbridge Lakehead System

The BP Whiting Refinery is connected to the “Enbridge Lakehead System”. It is fed crude tar sands from Enbridge line 6A. 6B Connects with 6A after the Whiting refinery.

As always, question authority. Consider the implications that interacting with Lake Michigan could have on your health before swimming or surfing, at least until an independent scientific evaluation is done at the site and surrounding areas. This spill could have been significantly worse. Regardless of the severity, the recent malfunction highlights the inevitability of tar sands spills. The abrasive texture of tar sands oil, the lack of legitimate, viable regulation, the environmental racism, classism and colonialism, paired with the heinous pollution tar sands infrastructure wrecks on present and future generations are reason enough to halt tar sands refinement. The cost is too high.

Mar 22

Enbridge’s Legacy

Today we lift up the message shared by brothers and sisters who dropped this banner near the Kalamazoo River in solidarity with the people and creatures living near Line 9 and all people resisting harsh extraction.

We all share a common duty to peacefully resist the extraction and exploitation of the life giving systems around us. Perpetrators like Enbridge and the fossil fuel industry only see dollar signs where we see clean air and water, public health, and life. We will resist them on the shores, in our rivers, on the land, in the trees, and through the air with our voices.

“If you threaten existence, expect resistance.” Enbridge

Mar 21

Line 9 Solidarity Action

Yesterday, Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands partnered with the Kalamazoo Peace Center and Students for Sustainable Earth of Western Michigan University. We demonstrated downtown Kalamazoo against colonialism, Line 9, tar sands and  climate change denier Fred Upton. This rally was held in solidarity with all of the people and creatures who will endure destruction due to the expansion of Enbridge Line 9. Line 9 attaches to line 6B and is a threat to the Great Lakes. Enbridge recently received approval from the Canadian Government to reverse line 9 and increase its capacity, despite a lack of public input. and already documented leaks in the line. If reversed, line 9 will connect Michigan’s tar sands pipelines (and the Alberta Clipper project) to pipelines on the east coast of the US, ultimately allowing Enrbridge to export tar sands internationally through Maine.The connection MI-CATS feel to the communities on the other side of the boarder is beyond the shared danger that is the black vein pipelines threatening all of us. We are connected in our resistance, and our necessity to protect the water and the Great Lakes for future generations.

 

Folks rallied downtown Kalamazoo in an effort to raise awareness about Line 9 expansion. We yelled in solidarity with those resisting the pipeline. We also sent a clear message to Congressional pushover Fred Upton. He used to recognize climate change as a real, human influenced phenomena. His $elective memory about it’s existence it is unacceptable.

MI-CATS & Peace Center Rally

 

We marched around the block to Morgan Stanley, international investment firm. They market themselves as a “socially responsible” investment firm. However, Morgan Stanley owns 1.62 M shares in Enbridge which totals 48.33 million dollars. Enbridge is not a socially responsible company. A Mi-CATS creech shared about Line 9′s campaign to stop the approval of the reversal of Line 9, the smothering of democratic channels to make change, the lack of a full Environmental Assessment (all freakishly similar to the years leading up to line 6B’s expansion). They also spoke about the strong resistance to expansion through the Swamp Line 9 Campaign. They spoke about colonialism, and the proliferation of colonialism thanks to harsh extraction industries. Corporations like Enbridge attempting to to turn communities into sacrefice zones must stop!

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Fax your disappointment with Morgan Stanley’s investment in Enbridge to (269) 373-2640.

Next the rally marched into Fred Upton’s office. We were met by three Kalamazoo Public Safety officers and Lynne Turner, Upton’s receptionist. We requested to speak with Fred Upton. The police told us we had to leave, that we were not allowed to protest inside and that we were trespassing. We informed them we just wanted to speak with the Congressional Representative. Ms. Turner informed us that he was not present. We shared our anger with Upton’s newfound skeptical perspective on climate change We gently notified Ms. Turner that he ought to reflect on his status as “one of the biggest threats to planet Earth on planet Earth.”

March against Line 9

March against Line 9

 

Folks left the building peacefully followed by the cops, and went on with our days.

 

 

 

Mar 06

Tackling the Leviathans of Destruction & Oppression

Lisa,  Barbara and Vicci have been sentenced!  Now that they have been released from their cells we can be together to hug, cry, dance, and reflect. Furthermore, our movement can move forward and refocus our attention on the destruction of ecosystems  and communities as a result of harsh energy extraction and transportation in the great lakes bio region.

At the same time, we find it essential that our movement not forget about those who are being treated poorly by the state. While the MI-CATS 3 are returning to their families and communities that love them, many environmentalists  and social justice activists are not.

Marie Mason, for example, is still in prison. In 2009 she plead guilty to committing acts of sabotage against Genetically Modified Research facilities in 1999 as well as the destruction of logging equipment. The state threatened her with a life sentence for actions that physically harmed no one. Marie took a plea deal and is almost five years into a 22 year sentence, the longest sentence of any Green Scare prisoner. She is being held thousands of miles away from her family in a high security prison. 

Animal rights’ activist Kevin Oliff just arrived at an Illinois prison for allegedly possessing “burglary tools”(wire cutters).  Mi’kmaq warriors are still being held for protecting their land from fracking in what is known colonially as Canada.

These people are asking for our support and encouragement.Audre Lord !

Throughout the court proceedings, it became clear that the same machines that destroy the earth are protected by the exact systems that shred thousands of communities to pieces, “law enforcement”. Hundreds of thousands of people are ensnared in the prison industrial complex, with out mass support, as a result of being born into this pyramid scheme of a white supremacist capitalist culture that breeds systemic oppression. All prisoners are political prisoners.

 

So much energy has accumulated in support of the MI-CATS 3, and it has inspired all of us. How can we use this energy to kick these leviathans of destruction over? It’s time we build real support networks to engage in restorative justice. We have to keep those who aren’t physically free at the front of our minds while pondering how we are going to effectively tackle extreme extraction fueled capitalism?

Mar 05

All Out Now!

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Lisa Leggio, Barbara Carter & Vicci Hamlin have been nominated for the 2014 Peoples’ Choice Human Rights’ Award! You can vote for them here

Mar 05

MI-CATS 3 Sentenced to Time Served & 13 Months Probation

UPDATE 5:30PM: After paying a bond for Lisa, all cats are released!

UPDATE 4PM: Lisa was not released, and is currently be extradited to another Michigan County. More updates as soon as we know. In the meantime please donate to help with legal costs and appeals.

1966853_2269509778237_1453699435_nFollowing over a month inside the Ingham County Jail after a guilty verdict by a jury, the MICATS 3 were sentenced to 13 months probation by Circuit Judge William Collette

“Though my heart aches for moments I will miss, I regret nothing,” wrote Lisa Leggio from her cell in Ingham County Jail while awaiting sentencing.

This afternoon, Leggio, and her fellow MICATS members Barbara Carter and Vicci Hamlin were sentenced to 13 months probation and $47,656.50 in restitution to the police.  Over 100 supporters packed the tension filled courtroom where Judge William Collette of Ingham County presides.  Though the defendants were surrounded by the love of their families and friends throughout the trial and sentencing, we recognize that this is not the case for most people who are forced by circumstance to interact with the justice system.  The prison-industrial complex is a reality of life for so many folks who have been disenfranchised by the capitalist system from the start, and we hope that the sentencing of the MICATS 3 will only serve to highlight the struggles of those for whom community support and opportunities were never possibilities.

Despite what has happened to Hamlin, Leggio, and Carter, supporters with the Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands vow to continue to take strong action against Enbridge and exploitative industry.

“The sentencing of our friends only deepens our resolve,” said one MICATS supporter.  “All around the world, corporations like Enbridge are getting away with murder in the name of profit.  While it may not look like a gun to a head, it smells like a refinery spewing cancer-causing chemicals into the air, it looks like the poisoning of water, and the eradication and forced assimilation of cultures and ecosystems everywhere. The profit-above-all-else paradigm is killing people and the natural world, and we will not be intimidated by the bullying of the state in collusion with industry.  We will fight back.”

Similar sentiment has been expressed by a steadfast Hamlin, from her jail cell while awaiting sentencing.

“I have no regrets and know I was born for this time and place.  We all were, and each person has a purpose and a destiny to fulfill.  I just said, ‘yes, I will,’” she said.

How you can support: We are an all volunteer led alliance of folks from across the Midwest and are humbly asking for anyone financially stable, to chip in what you can  to go towards the large fundraising goal of nearly 48k. We’re going to get creative with how we fundraise and are hopeful that we can work with our awesome lawyers from NLG to get the final restitution amount substantially reduced. Every $1 goes a long way towards amplifying the voice of folks working on the front lines of the fossil fuel resistance.

The Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MICATS) seeks to unite the people of Michigan towards a common goal of stopping all transportation and refining of tar sands oil in the state and advocating against the production/transportation of tar sands everywhere.

 

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Mar 03

60,000 Petition Signatures Delivered to Judge Collette on Behalf of MI CATS 3

Two days before MI CATS members Lisa, Barb, and Vicci will face their sentencing hearing, 60,000 petition signatures were printed and delivered to Judge Collette. Michelle, MI CATS member and a member of the community impacted by the 2010 Enbridge spill, delivered them to the courthouse this afternoon.

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On Wednesday Judge Collette will decide what the consequences will be for the three convicted of felony and misdemeanor charges. The most serious charge they are facing is a felony for resisting and obstructing an officer, which could carry 2-3 years in prison and should usually be applied to individuals who have had physical altercations with officers. Because of the peaceful nature of their actions and the outpouring of national and local support the three ladies have received, we are hoping that Judge Collette will be lenient in his sentencing.

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