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The protesters, in a photo provided by MICATS.

In Defiant Action, Pipeline Protesters Lock Themselves to Trucks

Arrested activist: "My act of defiance is an act against the machine, meant to slow and halt its destruction."

Deirdre Fulton

Demanding a halt to pipeline corporation Enbridge's continued expansion of Line 6B—which ruptured in 2010, spilling over one million gallons of tar sands oil and diluting chemicals into a tributary of the Kalamazoo River—two activists Monday morning locked themselves to a pipeline construction truck leaving Precision Pipeline storage yard in Oxford, Michigan. The action caused a back-up of trucks leaving the facility.

Twenty-year-old Duncan Tarr and 22-year-old Dylan Ochala-Gorka, both Michigan residents and organizers with the Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MICATS), used bike locks to secure themselves to the truck around 7:30 am. They were extracted by law enforcement officials using bolt cutters and rescue tools around 9 am. Both have been taken into custody at the Oakland County Jail.

A group of about 30 supporters holding signs were also at the scene, according to organizers.  A convoy of protesters is now heading to the jail where Tarr and Ochala-Gorka are being held, with the intent of holding a vigil.

"My act of defiance is an act against the machine, meant to slow and halt its destruction," Tarr said in a statement. "Enbridge, and the pipelines they control, are a central part in the destruction of life...Their spills, leaks, and presence in my area has caused the deaths of many humans and countless other creatures, trees, and plants. Let my act of defiance be a call to others, because this land that we are standing on now is being killed. And we know exactly who the killers are."

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The action comes one month after the four-year anniversary of the Kalamazoo spill. Approximately $1 billion has been spent to clean up that disaster, but experts say 20 percent of the diluted bitumen remains at the bottom of the river. But Enbridge says its clean up work is nearly finished.

"It’s those who profit from the exploitation of environment and people who need the healing and love the most," Ochala-Gorka said in a statement. "If putting my body between big oil and profits is necessary, I will continue to stand up between them and their meaningless money."

Despite frequent protests, international corporations continue to seek and build outlets for tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada. In the face of this "exploitative energy system," volunteer organizer Jarret Schlaff, who was on the scene of this morning's action, told Common Dreams that MICATS is "calling for restoration, resilience, resistance, and re-imagining."

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