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Fight Against Tar Sands in Texas Continues: Activists Arrested, Hunger Strike Started

Latest direct action in solidarity with Tar Sands Blockade is in Houston neighborhood long-plagued by refinery emissions

- Common Dreams staff

photo: Tar Sands Blockade

Activists are staging a hunger strike following their arrest for direct action against tar sands in Texas on Thursday, and represents the latest in a series of acts to stop the dirty fuel from flowing through the state.

Diane Wilson and Bob Lindsey Jr. locked themselves to trucks outside a Valero Energy Corp. refinery in the Manchester community of Houston, the site of where some of the tar sands from TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline would be refined.

Diane Wilson. (photo: Tar Sands Blockade)

Bob Lindsey. (photo: Tar Sands Blockade)

Tar Sands Blockade, a coalition of groups staging actions to stop the tar sands pipeline, explains the legacy Manchester has already been left by Valero:

With a 90% Latino population, Manchester’s relationship with the Valero refinery is a textbook case of environmental racism. Residents there have suffered through decades of premature deaths, cancers, asthma and other diseases attributable to the refinery emissions. With little financial support for lawsuits and without the political agency necessary to legislatively reign-in criminal polluters like Valero, the community suffers while Valero posts record profits.

Tar Sands Blockade says that Manchester community residents came to the site of the action to support Wilson and Lindsey's stand, chanting:

"What do we want? Clean air! When do we want it? NOW!" and "Shut down Valero! Protect Manchester!"

"Arrest Valero! Pollution is a crime! Arrest Valero, Not Diane" and "Valero, Valero, what do you say? How much cancer did you cause today?"

Police later arrested Wilson and Lindsey for blocking the roadway.

The pair decided to opt out of bail and launch a hunger strike from jail until Valero divests from the tar sands pipeline.

"Keystone XL will bring the dirtiest fuel on the planet right down to the Gulf, where already overburdened communities like Manchester will be forced to suffer even more,” said Wilson. "After decades of toxic air in Manchester, I refuse to just let them continue to punish this community. I won’t eat until Valero divests from Keystone XL."

Ramsey Sprague, a Louisiana Gulf Coast-born Tar Sands Blockade spokesperson, praised Wilson and Lindsey's act, and added:

"Manchester deserves justice as do all communities treated as energy sacrifice zones. Corporations like Valero and TransCanada cannot seem to function without violating the health and safety of the people everywhere from Alberta to Manchester."

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Tar Sands Blockade has video of Diane Wilson and Bob Lindsey Jr. explaining why they're fighting the Keystone XL: