The Seattle Police Department (SPD) rose early Tuesday morning, wooed by a swarm of Raging Grannies and other protesters who had gathered at the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 5 bridge and Chelan Avenue South. Protesters attempted to prevent workers from boarding Royal Dutch Shell’s Arctic oil-drilling rig, the Polar Pioneer. For a few hours, they succeeded.
The Polar Pioneer, has seen it’s share of protests since it’s arrival in Puget Sound on May 14th. Demonstrators have been protesting the rig both on land, and on water in kayaks in an attempt to bring attention to the possible devastation and a more than 75 percent chance of an oil spill on the rig once it reaches the Arctic, according to Alaska Public Media. (http://www.alaskapublic.org/2015/04/27/boem-explains-75-chance-of-arctic-oil-spill/)
Three activists used concrete-filled, 50-gallon drums to blockade the workers’ entrance to the rig while attaching themselves to it via armholes. Activist Zarna Joshi, who had locked herself to a concrete barrel said, “I’m locking down today because the devastation of climate change is already upon us. From India’s recent heatwave to the Philippine’s Typhoon Haiyan, innocent lives are being destroyed all over the world. I can’t stand by and watch Shell, a reckless and selfish fossil fuel corporation, drill in the Arctic and make climate change even worse. The Arctic belongs to Mother Earth, and Shell can’t have it.”
Using a lockbox device for human blockades, two activists blocked a side road that could be used to get rig workers through. Another used an elbow shaped lockbox to attach themselves to a car at the Chelan Avenue South location. Activists blockading the bridge, side road and attached to the car decided to self-release in order to avoid jail. Rosie Daniels locked their arms to a car said, “All avenues which [someone] would go through to stop the rig have been exhausted and the people have made their voice loud and clear.”
The Raging Grannies continued their protest, causing SPD to bring out the power tools and begin clipping chains. The Grannies sat in rocking chairs, sipping tea and knitting, as more than 25 officers from both the Port of Seattle and SPD swarmed around them. Thick plastic sheets were draped over the Grannies as officers cut through the lockboxes. As the Grannies were led away, as demonstrators shouted “Stop Shell, not Grannies”. The goal of the protest was to “disrupt work on the rig to delay it’s (sic) departure from Seattle”. Protesters blocked the entrance to Terminal 5 for approximately three hours before workers found a way in. Five demonstrators were arrested but all were released by 1pm.
From the event Facebook page…
“BREAKING: ShellNo! protestors are locked down at the Port of Seattle right now and need your support!
Early this morning activists set up and deployed a range of technical blockades outside entrances to the port using U-locks, chains, lockboxes, rocking chairs, and other devices. Every entrance of the port was shut down, effectively stopping work on the rig. To sustain this bold action, we need YOU! Come on down and join us right now for an inspiring blockade. Bring your camera, musical instruments, banners, and passion for justice.
LOCATION: Terminal 5, West Seattle (W. Marginal Way and Spokane Street, Spokane Street Bridge)
As we all know, time is of the essence when it comes to stopping the Polar Polluter and its evil twin, the Noble Destroyer.
“Shell only has until the end of June to make it up to the Arctic in time to drill this summer. We want to stop them from leaving,” said Blaine Doherty, who is sitting in the road chained to another Seattle resident. “The Port of Seattle has let us down and President Obama has let us down. We can’t afford to let Shell drill in the Arctic if we want this planet to remain habitable.”
After May’s Festival of Resistance, organized by the Shell No! Action Council, another autonomous group called Stop Shell Seattle has called for a month of actions using the tag “June Against Doom”. There have been pickets at the Port for the past 5 days. The goal is to disrupt work on the rig in order to delay its move out of Seattle.
The Seattle Raging Grannies chained themselves to rocking chairs for today’s action. “My generation is responsible for how things are today. This rig will destroy any hope of a liveable future for our children and grandchildren,” said Annette Klapstein. “It’s our duty to be out here.”
The groups locked down also highlighted how climate change is already affecting vulnerable communities around the world, such as the recent heatwave in India that has so far resulted in over 2,000 deaths. “The people most impacted by Arctic drilling, and the 2 degrees Celsius warming it will bring, are indigenous people around the world, poor people, and people of the global South,” said Zarna Joshi, one of the Seattle residents who locked down. “When it’s 122 degrees and you’re poor there’s nowhere to hide. The fossil fuel industry’s drive for profit is literally killing people. We’re here to take a stand against these climate-destroying corporations and the governments who support them.”
You can support today’s action with your physical and online presence! Join us at the port and follow our updates via Facebook and Twitter. Donate to our fundraising campaign to support us in paying legal fees. Tell everyone you know and spread the word: Seattle says SHELL NO!
Rising Tide Seattle”