Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Protesters blocked all three main entrances to Seattle Port Terminal 5, where Shell kept their Arctic drilling rig. (Photo: @AntoniaJuhasz/Twitter)

Protesters blocked all three main entrances to Seattle Port Terminal 5, where Shell kept their Arctic drilling rig. (Photo: @AntoniaJuhasz/Twitter)

'You Shell Not Pass!': Seattle Activists Blockade Oil Giant Over Arctic Drilling

'Today we’re not just shutting down Shell,' said organizer with Rising Tide Seattle. 'We’re challenging corporate capitalism, imperialism and colonialism with a vision of people power and true mass democracy.'

Lauren McCauley

Culminating days of fierce resistance against plans to drill for Arctic oil, activists in Seattle on Monday are risking arrest as they attempt to shut down operations at Shell Oil's drilling rig.

In the wee hours Monday morning, hundreds of people stopped traffic on the Spokane Street Bridge before marching to the Port of Seattle where protesters blocked the entrances to Terminal 5, which houses the oil giant's floating rig, the Polar Pioneer.

A coalition of local environmental organizations, known as the sHellNo! Action Council, have for days been holding nonviolent training seminars in order to prepare activists for what is being described as "the largest act of environmental civil disobedience Seattle has seen in recent years." Among those risking arrest is Seattle city councilmember Kshama Sawant.

"Today we’re not just shutting down Shell, we’re challenging corporate capitalism, imperialism and colonialism with a vision of people power and true mass democracy," said Ahmed Gaya, an organizer with Rising Tide Seattle, one of the groups participating in the council.

KPFA is live-streaming the direct action here and Seattle alt-weekly The Stranger also has live coverage throughout the day. Other updates are being shared online under the hashtags #YouShellNotPass and #sHellNO.

The demonstration follows days of protest targeting Shell's Arctic oil campaign. On Saturday, hundreds of people in kayaks and other small boats paddled into the Puget Sound to square off with the newly-arrived rig.

Among the groups who have added their voices to the growing chorus of protest in Seattle are the area's indigenous tribes, some of which traveled down from Alaska to join the demonstrations. Members of the local Duwamish-Suquamish tribe joined the paddlers on Saturday while a banner image of Chief Seattle with the warning that he "is watching" floated above the action.

Observers say that Seattle now marks the front lines in the fight against Arctic oil drilling, following the Obama Administration's announcement last week that Shell could begin exploring for oil in the vulnerable Beaufort and Chuchki Seas—a decision that has been widely criticized for its short-sightedness amid the growing climate crisis.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Revealing He Too Had Manning Leaks, Ellsberg Dares DOJ to Prosecute Him Like Assange

"Let's take this to the Supreme Court," says the Pentagon Papers whistleblower, taking aim at what he argues is an unconstitutional use of the Espionage Act.

Jessica Corbett ·

'Why Is It This Close? Why?' Narrow Warnock Win Sparks Fears of Ominous Doom for Democrats

"The closeness of this race is among the most depressing and ominous things I've seen in American politics in my lifetime," said one observer.

Julia Conley ·

Germany Arrests 25 Over Alleged Far-Right Plot to Violently Overthrow Government

Prosecutors said supporters of the group—who reportedly include a descendant of royalty, a judge, and a Russian citizen—believe Germany is ruled by a so-called "deep state" that should be overthrown "through the use of military means and violence."

Jessica Corbett ·

'Monumental Victory': Manchin's Industry-Backed Permitting Reform Defeated Again

"We've defeated Manchin's dirty deal twice so far, and we'll do it as many times as we must until communities and the climate are safe from rampant oil and gas expansion."

Jon Queally ·

Warnock Defeats Walker in Georgia, Giving Democrats 51-49 Senate Majority

"Tonight, the people—young, Black, Brown, and working people—expanded the Senate majority, neutralized the power of Joe Manchin, and defeated yet another fascist," the Sunrise Movement cheered.

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo