'Extraordinary': Three Weeks Later, Keystone Blockaders Still in Texas Jail

Activists Matthew Almonte and Glen Collins. (Photo: Tar Sands Blockade)

'Extraordinary': Three Weeks Later, Keystone Blockaders Still in Texas Jail

"I think what they are doing is extraordinary"

Nearly three weeks after they were arrested on misdemeanor charges, activists who barricaded themselves inside a portion of pipe to protest the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline remain in a Texas jail, each held on $65,000 bail.

Mathew Almonte and Glen Collins were arrested Dec. 3 in Winona, Texas after chaining their arms to two 600-pound concrete barrels they had maneuvered inside a section of pipe. They hoped to block construction of the TransCanada KXL pipeline, which if completed will carry highly toxic tar sands from Alberta, Canada, to Gulf Coast refineries.

Also arrested was Isabel Brooks, who was filming the protest.

Part of the coalition Tar Sands Blockade, Collins said at the time that he was barricading the pipe "to say loud and clear to the extraction industry that our communities and the resources we depend on for survival are not collateral damage."

While the Dec. 3 barricade brought construction of the pipeline to a halt, Almonte and Collins were charged with misdemeanors including criminal trespass and illegal dumping, and ordered held on a "ridiculously high" bail, local criminal defense attorney Brandon Baade told Bloomberg.

Although Almonte, Collins and Brooks remain in jail, activists and environmental advocates continue to protest the pipeline and the poisonous tar sands it would transport, with more than 30 others arrested since October and dozens of people camped on a ranch outside Nacogdoches.

"You have just about every mainstream NGO speaking about game over for the planet if this pipeline is built," Ron Seifert, a spokesman for Tar Sands Blockade, told Bloomberg. "There is a disconnect between that rhetoric and the willingness to take aggressive action like the Tar Sands Blockade is doing.

Local residents and organizations are also supporting the protesters, including the Rev. Kyle Childress of the Austin Heights Baptist Church.

"Swimming against the stream is often a pretty good indication that you are practicing your faith," Childress said. "Many of these kids have sold everything they own except what's in their backpacks to come here. Some of them haven't had a bath in a month. I think what they are doing is extraordinary."

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