Green Party Candidate Arrested at Tar Sands Blockade in Texas

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Common Dreams

Green Party Candidate Arrested at Tar Sands Blockade in Texas

Police escalate their attempts to "un-tree" anti-pipeline activists, creating dangerous situations

by
Common Dreams staff

Green Party Presidential Candidate Dr. Jill Stein, prior to her arrest, sporting a Tar Sands Blockade button in support.

Jill Stein, presidential candidate for the US Green Party, was arrested in Winnsboro, Texas on Wednesday after attempting to bring supplies to anti-tar sands campaigners who have been staging a blockade of the Keystone XL pipeline there for well over a month.

“Everyone needs to step up resistance to climate-killing emissions,” said Stein, who willingly risked arrest in order to show solidarity with the activists.  “Romney and Obama are only talking about the symptoms of climate change in terms of destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy; the blockaders are addressing the cause.”

Stein was taken to the Wood County jail and charged with criminal trespassing, a class B misdemeanor, said Kim Huynh, a spokesman for the Tar Sands Blockade.

According to a statement by her campaign, Stein was joined by seven others, including three blockaders and four members of the press. They were delivering fresh fruits and vegetables, trail mix, and Halloween candy. They were not warned of imminent arrests, the released statement said, and the arresting officers did not self-identify as police.

Here’s Dr. Jill Stein’s testimonial video she took before her resupply mission this morning, explaining why she joined Tar Sands Blockade:

Prior to running for office, Jill Stein, a 62-year old physician and mother of two, had never been arrested. This, however, is the second time she's been arrested during her campaign. The first took place in Hampstead, New York after she and her vice presidential running mate, Cheri Honkala, were arrested in early October outside the presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney after being barred from entering the debate venue.

"Climate change means more frequent severe storms that lead to massive flooding and destruction,” said Stein, speaking at the ongoing protests in Texas against the proposed Keystone XL natural gas project. “We will see more destructive storms than Sandy in the years to come. We have to stop spending our tax dollars to build homes in low-lying coastal areas and flood plains. The billions spent rebuilding the NYC subway system must reflect that sea levels will continue to rise.”  Stein noted that the flooding of the NYC subway system had been predicted in several recent climate change reports prepared for the state government.

"A major reason why our political and business leaders have failed to take action on climate change is because too many of them believe that it will be cheaper to deal with the consequences of climate change than to reduce it. The economic and human costs from Hurricane Sandy shows this to be the wrong calculation," said Stein.

Meanwhile, the police and hired security from TransCanada—the Canadian pipeline company that owns Keystone XL—has intensified its attack on the tree sitters, now in their second month of maintaining the blockade from high in the trees above the clear-cutting and pipe-laying below.

A series of updates from the Tar Sands Blockade from Wednesday's events follow:

**UPDATE 10:30PM — Directly from Pika from her perch:

I’m sitting in this pine tree under fllood lights and the watchful eyes of cops, just thinking about all the implications of this pipeline and that the destruction I see 70 feet below me is just one tiny part. I feel grief, but I also feel strong!

I don’t have any food or water. I couldn’t get it high enough quickly enough, so the cops cut it down.

It’s starting to get a little chilly.

Thanks so much for all the amazing support!!

***UPDATE 8:30PM – Pika amazingly climbed up in her tree higher than the cherry picker could reach. In response, police cut her platform and climb line from her tree and retreated the cherry picker, leaving her in the tree with just the rope she has on her person and her resourcefulness. She’s currently on a limb about 70 feet in the air, chillin.

Law enforcement hasn’t left the scene, and they are there with noisy, generator-powered flood lights to induce sleep deprivation. Pika’s supporters haven’t left the scene entirely, either. Four Tar Sands Blockade supporters will be holding vigil for her through the night.

While it is a dangerous situation and it is certainly an exercise of extraordinarily questionable judgement on the part of the police, Pika is an experienced climber and we expect her to be fine.

Lauren on the other hand has been booked for the night in Nacogdoches County Jail. Her charges are Fourth Degree (State) Felony Criminal Mischief, Class A Misdemeanor Resisting Arrest, and Class B Misdemeanor Criminal Trespass. We won’t know until tomorrow when she visits with a judge what her bail will be.

***UPDATE 6:00PM – Lauren has been removed from her platform and is under arrest. Pika is still holding strong. Our #NEWomenRising are inspirations!

***UPDATE 5:15PM – Nacogdoces Sheriff’s Department has returned to the scene in Sacul, Texas with cherry pickers. It appears they are intent on physically removing the sitters from their platforms.

***UPDATE 3:15PM – Dr. Jill Stein has been released from Wood County Jail on a Class B Misdemeanor Criminal Trespass charge. You did know she’s the Green Party‘s presidential hopeful, right?

***UPDATE 2:15PM – From Winnsboro, we expect Dr. Jill Stein to be released within an hour. In Sacul, things are still calm.

***UPDATE 10:30AM – In Winnsboro, Dr. Jill Stein has been arrested, taken to Wood County Jail, and is awaiting processing. The freelance reporter has been released from detainment without arrest or charge.

A statement from Dr. Jill Stein:

“I’m here to connect the dots between super storm Sandy and the record heat, drought, and fire we’ve seen this year – and this Tar Sands pipeline, which will make all of these problems much worse. And I’m here to connect the dots between climate devastation and pipeline politicians – both Obama and Romney – who are competing, as we saw in the debates, for the role of Puppet In Chief for the fossil fuel industry. Both deserve that title. Obama’s record of “drill baby drill” has gone beyond the harm done by George Bush. Mitt Romney promises more of the same.”

***UPDATE 10:00AM – In Sacul, Six Nacogdoches County Sheriffs are conferring with TransCanada, inspecting rigging of tree sits, taking pictures, and making phone calls. Otherwise, Pika and Lauren are sitting tall. In Winnsboro, a police situation has complicated updates from Dr. Jill Stein’s Tree Blockade resupply efforts, though confirmed updates are forthcoming. We believe Dr. Stein’s arrest is eminent.

***UPDATE 9:15AM – In Sacul, TransCanada construction contractors have cleared a path thru a pile of felled trees and have moved some of the heavy equipment onsite. Three machines, an excavator, feller buncher, and a timber forwarder, are still immobilized by the tree sits.

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