Seattle Rising Tide with Raging Grannies Block an Oil Train

Annette Klapstein, Adam Gaya and Jan Woodruff locked down to the tracks at Tesoro’s March Point refinery, located on stolen* Swinomish land in Anacortes, on Monday morning, stopping an oil train from leaving the facility for over four hours.

For months, communities along so-called Washington’s coast have been working hard at leveraging bureaucracy in their favor–filling public comment periods, howling at Jay Inslee, staging symbolic blockades in population centers, educating the public–all in an attempt to stop the transport of explosive Bakken crude oil by rail. Yet, all their efforts couldn’t stop an oil train derailment on July 17th in Everett, and again a week later in Seattle.

It’s about time someone escalated the fight against oil trains.

“The seattle city council and the mayor have asked for an immediate halt to all oil train traffic through seattle,” Adam Gaya of Seattle Rising Tide said. “We’re getting a lot of requests, and pretty words, and asking for a halt, but nobody seems to be actually imposing a moratorium on these oil trains. So we felt the need to come and do it ourselves.”

Monday’s action came on the tail end of a similar oil train blockade in Portland on June 30th this summer.

Gaya was in high spirits for the duration of the lock-down, alternating between speaking to reporters, chanting with supporters, and singing songs like, “It Isn’t Nice,” by Malvina Reynolds.

While negotiating with the cops, the blockader’s requested that Tesoro connect them via telephone with someone they could make their demands to. Minutes later the cops returned with Tesoro’s general customer service number. Not being customers, Gaya and others politely declined.  This reality contrasts nicely with one of the Tesoro cronies’ media statements about how he “takes this type of incident very seriously.”

I wonder if he takes seriously the millions of Indigenous people worldwide, from the Arctic to the Philippines, being displaced from their land and severed from their traditional subsistence cultures due to a rapidly changing climate. The astronomical spike in crude production from the Bakken region is nothing but bad news for these people.

“It’s no surprise that an industry willing to sacrifice the entire planet to catastrophic climate change doesn’t see a few vaporized towns and cities as significant. With recent disasters and the accelerating climate crisis we shouldn’t even be considering new oil infrastructure,” Gaya said.

Although the Tesoro mouthpiece told reporters that the facility was not disrupted by the blockade, the lock-downers confirmed that an oil train was warming up it’s engine when they deployed at 7:45am, and that it’s engines were shut down shortly thereafter. It’s no surprise Tesoro would try to downplay the effectiveness of Monday’s blockade. Unlike the public hearings and lobbying, direct action eats away at the industry’s profit margin, and that’s effective.


*Note: So-called March Point was part of the Swinomish reservation and an area Swinomish people gathered traditional intertidal foods until the U.S. colonial government snatched it in an 1873 executive order. It is now zoned as a heavy impact industrial area and home to the Shell and Tesoro oil refineries.

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Campesino Power

This gallery contains 19 photos.

Last summer over 300 migrant farmworkers at Sakuma Brothers Berry Farm engaged in work stoppages to protest wage theft, racist abuse in the fields, sub-standard housing, being forced to work while sick, and many other grievances. They ultimately called for a boycott of Sakuma berries after the farm management refused to negotiate in good faith. The workers formed an independent union called Familias Unidas por la Justicia to represent them and have been fighting for a legally binding contract since the end of July 2013. Familias Unidas' struggle will go down as one of the biggest labor disputes in Washington's history and the largest farmworker strikes on the west coast since the crusades of Cesar Chavez in the 60's and 70's. Support the people who grow your food! To support the struggle visit: or Continue reading

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Unist’ot’en Action Camp 2014

This gallery contains 22 photos.

"The Unist'ot'en Camp is a resistance community whose purpose is to protect sovereign Wet'suwet'en territory from several proposed pipelines from the Tar Sands Gigaproject and shale gas from Hydraulic Fracturing Projects in the Peace River Region.

The camp is located at the shore of the Wedzin Kwah and mouth of the Gosnell Creek. These are all tributary to the the Skeena, Bulkley, and Babine Rivers. The proposed pipelines from Enbridge Northern Gateway and Pacific Trails both seek to cross the rivers at the exact point where the resistance camp is built on the Unis’tot’en Territory of Talbits Kwah.

The Unist'ot'en (C’ihlts’ehkhyu / Big Frog Clan)along with other strong uncompromising allies will stop this destructive path, for the future generations, for the biodiversity, and for solidarity with our neighbours living amidst the heavy impacts in the Tar Sands Affected areas in Northern Alberta, and regions heavily affected by Fracking Natural Gas and Shale Oil, as well as communities impacted by Refineries, Pipelines, and Fuel Terminals and Port Expansions." - Continue reading

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A few photos from tandem touring

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Chris Soler

Chris Soler

Chris Soler, 56, tends to a graft on one of the many fruit trees in his 12-acre permaculture farm in Bow, Wash. Instead of planting a desirable breed of fruit from seed, he simply cuts a piece off of his tree of choice, and fuses it to an existing tree. “It’s like weeding a garden,” Soler said. “You just take out the branches you don’t want, and plant the branches you like.” Soler grew up on a dairy farm in Skagit Valley with 8 other siblings, where he developed his animal husbandry and gardening skills from an early age. He and his wife now subsist on about 80 percent of food they grow on their land. “We could survive on what we’re producing, but it’s nice to have grain and cheese, among other things,” Soler said. The couple cans all the excess fruit from harvest and enjoy it over the winter and spring months.

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Delray Sings

Delray Sings

Delray, 55, sings outside the food co-op in downtown Bellingham, Wash on Tuesday afternoon. “My parents had they’re honeymoon in Delray, Florida, and I was the result of that,” Delray said. When asked how old he was, Delray answered, “I’ve been twenty-one thirty-four times in a row.”

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Seattle Mayday Celebration

Seattle Mayday Celebration

Anti-capitalist and anarchist demonstrators rally around a fire at the Pine and Broadway intersection in downtown Seattle during their annual May Day celebration. Anarchists and labor activists alike have celebrated May Day for over a century in commemoration of the 1887 travesty of justice in Chicago that resulted in the hanging of 4 anarchists, known as the Haymarket Martyrs, because of their political beliefs. Traditionally, people march on May 1st to act in solidarity with the Haymarket Martyrs as well as honor the labor struggles that won the 8-hour workday, but recently the holiday has seen a people in immigration struggles marching for farmworker justice and immigrant rights.

Galen Herz, 20, took part in the anti-capitalist march on Thursday, and has celebrated Mayday for several years. “I’m out here today because capitalism treats workers like they are tools,” Herz said. “We are not disposable, we are human. Wealth inequality is out of control, and this is due to collusion between the state and capitalists. This incessant economic growth will lead to more in poverty and the destruction of our planet’s climate and resources. We anarchists critique these unjustified hierarchies of power and will fight the status quo.”

The anti-capitalist march in Seattle was preceded by an immigrant rights march, in which an estimated 7 to 10,000 people took part. Although past years have seen intense political violence and heavy-handed police repression in response, this year’s anti-capitalist march was relatively peaceful, with 10 arrests and minimal attacks from the police.

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