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Tar Sands Megaloads Protested in Missoula, MT

Megaload protest Indian Peoples Action Missoula January 22, 2013 from Twitter
Megaload protest Indian People’s Action Missoula January 22, 2013 from Twitter

Montana, Idaho, and Washington tribal and climate activists are meeting again for two more Missoula tar sands megaload protests at the Rosauers at Reserve and South Streets, at 12 midnight on Wednesday/Thursday, January 22-23, and Thursday/Friday, January 23-24! Montana Indian Peoples Action, along with Blue Skies Campaign, Northern Rockies Rising Tide, Spokane Rising Tide, and Wild Idaho Rising Tide, protested, prayed, and round-danced against a “megaload,” a colossal piece of tar sands processing equipment that Omega Morgan hauled on Reserve Street through Missoula, Montana, on Wednesday morning, January 22 [1-4].  Bringing together residents of Missoula and other communities in Montana, Idaho, and Washington affected by tar sands transportation projects, the approximately 50 protesters stood in solidarity with the Nez Perce and Shoshone-Bannock tribes in Idaho, the Confederated Umatilla and Warm Springs tribes in Oregon, and especially the First Nations people in Canada, who oppose tar sands mining and its pollution and devastation of their ancestral homelands in present-day Alberta. Megaload protest Missoula, MT 2 Jan 22, 2013 Exploitation of bitumen oil deposits drives the largest, most environmentally destructive, industrial operation on Earth.  The groups involved in Wednesday’s protest of Omega Morgan-hauled evaporators and heat exchangers, used in-situ/steam assisted gravity drainage extraction of tar sands, expressed their deep concerns about the impacts of tar sands development on global climate, air and water quality, and human, wildlife, and ecosystem health.  Like ordinary citizens throughout North America who prefer clean, sustainable energy, not dirty fossil fuel production, they can no longer ignore the irreversible harms imposed by the oil, gas, coal, and tar sands industries. Megaload protest Missoula, MT Jan 22, 2013 At about 9 pm MST, Spokane and Wild Idaho Rising Tide activists arrived in Missoula, traveling south on Reserve Street with two state troopers driving nearby.  At the Rosauers parking lot gathering place for the midnight protest, they first observed a truck with a flagger foisting a stop sign and pulling a flashing reader board sign, a white van, and a cherry picker vehicle raising traffic signals above Reserve Street.  The activists followed and watched the operations as they proceeded north.  By midnight, protesters had amassed a force of dozens of concerned citizens, who socialized and congregated to discuss non-violent action plans and to pray for the positive and productive outcomes of the impending demonstration. Megaload, 350 foot-long, that went through Missoula en route to Alberta tar sands. At 12:30 am, people of all ages walked into Reserve Street, in front of the megaload convoy of police escorts in vehicles and on foot, flaggers and pilot trucks, and the mammoth transport consisting of three push and pull, heavy-haul trucks, several trailers, and the oversize cargo.  The earnest protesters filled and blockaded the intersection of Reserve and Central Streets with banners and protest signs, while indigenous participants drummed and sang traditional songs.  When attempts to request five minutes of shipment delay to hold a round dance in the road failed, several Indian Peoples Action participants stood their ground, and one of the first three people to ever blockade tar sands mining equipment with their bodies sat in the southbound lanes of Reserve Street and refused to leave.  With two other Northern Rockies Rising Tide comrades, courageous, climate-concerned Carol Marsh had previously and similarly staged the first sit-down blockade of Northwest/Northern Rockies tar sands megaloads in Reserve Street in March 2011, when the first of four ConocoPhillips half coke drums bound for a Billings, Montana, refinery crossed northern Idaho and western Montana [5]. Megaload protest Missoula, MT 71 year old woman arrested Jan 22, 2013 Missoula police only forcibly removed but did not arrest 71-year-old Carol and her companions in 2011.  They arrested and cited her this time with disorderly conduct for blocking traffic, releasing her without bail on Wednesday morning.  Meanwhile, as her allies admired her bravery and sacrifice on Tuesday night, Indian Peoples Action led a brief round-dance, full of smiles, gratitude, and hope, in front of the Omega Morgan megaload in Reserve Street, symbolizing the region-wide friendship and unity of tribal and climate activists opposing these tar sands facilities components and associated destruction.  After about five minutes, the activists returned to the sidewalk, drumming, singing, chanting, and resisting from the sidelines the industrial juggernaut on its way to ecocide, genocide, and climate chaos.

Megaload protest Missoula, MT Jan 22, 2013 by Helen Yost
Megaload protest Missoula, MT Jan 22, 2013 by Helen Yost

Wild Idaho Rising Tide appreciates the honor of participating in this twenty-fourth regional protest (plus several Umatilla protection ceremonies) of Omega Morgan tar sands megaloads, as we further assist fellow, tar-sands-impacted communities in mobilizing against the corporate tyranny of Big Oil.  Omega Morgan has encountered WIRT resistance in Lewiston, Idaho, in October 2012, in Moscow, Idaho, in October 2013, and in Coeur d’Alene, Moscow, and Wallace, Idaho, in November 2013.  The Nez Perce Tribe rose against the company’s transport during four August 2013 nights on U.S. Highway 12 in Idaho.  Oregon and Washington 350 and Rising Tide climate activists, Umatilla and Warm Springs tribal members, and WIRT confronted this transportation project more than seven times in the streets and three times at corporate offices in November and December 2013.  Wild Idaho Rising Tide and 350 Idaho and Occupy Boise allies staged four protests in Marsing, Mountain Home, and at Timmerman Junction near Bellevue, Idaho, over the last month.  By comparison, Mammoet faced 31 protests resulting in ten arrests in Moscow, eight or nine demonstrations in Spokane, Washington, and caused two megaload monitor arrests in Coeur d’Alene, between July 2011 and June 2012.  Tar sands resistance is growing!

[1] Megaload Met by Protesters in Missoula (January 22 KECI)

[2] Missoula Woman Arrested as Part of Megaloads Protest (January 22 KPAX)

[3] Missoula Woman Arrested for Blocking Megaload; Equipment Reaches Bonner (January 22 Missoulian)

[4] Grandmother Arrested after Megaload Protest (January 22 KECI)

[5] NRRT and Supporters Protest and Temporarily Block Conoco Shipments (March 10, 2011 Northern Rockies Rising Tide)

71 Year Old Woman Stops Mega Load

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