All the News You Didn’t Even Know Was Going Down
Filed under: Canada, Mexico, Roundup, US
Filed under: Canada, Mexico, Roundup, US
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Protect Paynes Prairie Coalition, a group of concerned local citizens, sponsored a march that went from First Magnitude Brewery north to University Avenue, choosing a high-profile drag in Gainesville to bring attention to a Florida Department of Environmental Protection proposal.The FDEP drafted a strategic plan last year that could potentially open state parks to commercial uses such as cattle grazing, logging, and hunting.
A recent report by Jaimee Swift discusses the far reaching ill effects of industrial society on those most vulnerable within it, namely African-Americans in poor neighborhoods. In a piece entitled, It’s Not Just Flint: Environmental Racism is Slowly Killing Blacks Across America, they write:
Unfortunately, Flint is not the only city where African-Americans and people of color are suffering from the onslaught of environmental racism and discrimination. Detroit schools are so heavily infested with rats, roaches and mold that more than 85 schools closed on Wednesday, as teachers staged a sickout in protest to the deplorable conditions. In Baltimore, the levels of lead poisoning among children is three times the national rate. Before Freddie Gray became a victim of racialized state violence in Baltimore, he too, was a victim of lead poisoning as a young child; tests showed that his blood lead levels were as high as seven times the reference level given by the Centers for Disease Control.
Louisiana’s “cancer alley”; the polluting garbage and medical waste facilities in Chester, Pennsylvania; and the crude oil plant in Richmond, California are only but a few further examples to correlate that the water problem in Flint is not an isolated event — the poisoning of Black communities in America is certainly not a new phenomena. Historically and contemporarily, people of color, especially in low-income communities, have and are continuing to be killed slowly, softly, and silently in their households, in their schools, and on their jobs with impunity – and at a greater rate than police killings and racialized state violence.
Nowhere is this more real than in the horror show of the methane leak in the Los Angeles area. And, a new report from the Center for Biological Diversity states that fracking took place around the leak:
Fracking is commonly used in Aliso Canyon gas storage wells and has occurred near SS-25, the leaking well spewing thousands of tons of methane into Los Angeles neighborhoods, according to official state documents.
California’s new fracking law, S.B. 4, contained a little-noticed provision exempting certain types of well stimulation for gas storage. Well records show that state oil officials have not been tracking — let alone monitoring or regulating — this practice in Aliso Canyon gas storage wells, many of which are decades old.
“People around California have no idea that gas storage wells near their homes are being fracked,” a Center rep said. “This dangerous practice is being used in their backyards while state regulators look the other way. That’s absolutely unacceptable, and it needs to stop now.”
Some good news. Eco-action against pipelines, fracking, and attacks on farmland also continued. In Pennsylvania, 7 people were arrested for disrupting the Governor’s Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force meeting. One report stated:
Residents impacted by fracked gas infrastructure from across Pennsylvania came together today to shut down the final meeting of Governor Wolf’s Infrastructure Task Force. Exactly one year after members of frontline communities from across the state disrupted Governor Wolf’s inauguration to demand an end to fracking, Pennsylvanians again convened in Harrisburg to demand a stop to the buildout of fracked gas infrastructure.
“My friends and neighbors in Butler County have already been harmed by the reckless practices of the gas industry and the enablers in Pennsylvania’s government. This rubber stamping farce has done nothing but increase the likelihood that the destruction will continue,” said Michael Bagdes-Canning.
In a brave act of solidarity, 7 residents from New York counties were arrested in an action in solidarity with California residents affected by the gas leak near Los Angeles. One account of the action reads:
[A]s part of the ongoing civil disobedience campaign against gas storage called We Are Seneca Lake—of which I am part—seven protesters from six different New York counties declared their support for the residents of Porter Ranch, California, where a massive leak from an underground gas storage facility has sickened and displaced thousands of families and shows no sign of abating.
The seven formed a human chain across the north entrance of Crestwood Midstream on Route 14 at8:45 a.m. Monday morning. While blocking all traffic entering and leaving the facility, the group offered a statement of solidarity with the people of Porter Ranch before their arrest by Schuyler County deputies at 9:15 a.m.
The blockaders held banners that said, “Seneca Lake to Porter Ranch: Shut It All Down” and “Gas Storage Courts Disaster.”
In Albany, CA, people associated with Occupy the Farm, a grassroots direct action group that has carried out occupations of UC Berkeley farmland for years released their latest report:
On Monday, January 11, contractors with the UC administration began construction work on the southern portion of the Gill Tract, a historical farm sold to the University of California in 1928 under the condition it would be used for agricultural research and education. Contractors Ghilotti Bros. laid surveying stakes on the ground, pulled down fencing with an excavator, and began trampling the land with a bulldozer.
The next day after working hours, about fifteen individuals entered the Gill Tract to remove surveying stakes marking the paths for the heavy machinery brought to pave over the last large-scale plot of high-quality urban farmland still available on the East Bay. The mobilization by the group Occupy the Farm was led by senior citizens from the community.
The UC is privatizing this section of the Gill Tract for the construction of a high-end senior assisted living facility by the Belmont Village corporation, alongside construction of a Sprouts supermarket and a parking lot.
A new report on 2015 temperatures state that they were even higher than 2014. According to the document:
Earth’s 2015 surface temperatures were the warmest since modern record keeping began in 1880, according to independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Globally-averaged temperatures in 2015 shattered the previous mark set in 2014 by 0.23 degrees Fahrenheit (0.13 Celsius). Only once before, in 1998, has the new record been greater than the old record by this much.
In the Coast Salish Territories, protests took place against pipelines, however, some of the groups involved were big NGOs who have made sweet-heart deals with oil companies in the past. One report read:
First Nations representatives, environmental groups and others opposed to the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline project, protested outside National Energy Board (NEB) hearings in Burnaby Saturday.
In a historic move, Northwest tribes have united against giant oil and coal projects. According to one report:
And while thousands of people have turned out to protest Washington turning into one of the largest fossil fuel hubs in the country, Northwest tribes appear best positioned to win the fight.
“This is different from an environmental group coming in and saying ‘you shouldn’t do this.’ Here, agencies’ discretion is limited,” said Robert Anderson, director of the Native American Law Center at the University of Washington School of Law. “Tribes have treaty rights and the U.S. has trust responsibility to uphold those rights. That is the game-changing possibility here.”
It’s a high-stakes power play. There’s already been blowback in Congress from Republican lawmakers and, if the tribes lose, that could create a bad precedent for them in future battles.
But tribes are standing together against the projects.
“Coal is black death,” said Brian Cladoosby, chairman at the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community near La Conner who, as president of the National Congress of American Indians, has brought a national voice to the opposition.
“There is no mitigation,” Cladoosby said. “We have to make a stand before this very destructive poison they want to introduce into our backyards. We say no.”
BC Hydro is currently pushing for an injunction against Site C dam protesters. As one report reads:
BC Hydro is seeking an injunction against protesters at its Site C dam project, claiming they have been preventing contractors from completing their work on the south bank of the Peace River since Jan. 4.
In a petition filed in B.C. Supreme Court, Hydro asks for an injunction to prevent protesters from impeding work on the site and from threatening or intimidating contractors. The utility is also asking for punitive as well as general damages and costs.
“We respect the right of individuals to express their opinions about the Site C project in a safe and lawful manner,” said BC Hydro community relations manager Dave Conway.
“However, BC Hydro is taking these steps because we have an obligation to ratepayers to keep the project on schedule and on budget.”
Conway said the Crown corporation has environmental approvals and permits in place to do the work and is “hopeful that the situation can be resolved.”
On Sunday, January 17th, 2016, the Allied Tribes, representatives of Tribes from across Turtle Island (Anishnaabe, Dene Suline, Tsimshian, St’at’imc, Okanagan, Ahousaht, Snuneymuxw, Wet’suwet’en, etc.) met at Adams Lake Gym in Secwepemculecw (“Chase”), honouring Wolverine’s call for a historic gathering and feast. In attendance at the feast and gathering were representatives from resistance sites across so called British Columbia, including Unist’ot’en, Lelu Island and the St’at’imc Voice for the Voiceless Camp.
People, in ceremony and under the exclusive jurisdiction of Tribal Law, we, the Allied Tribes come together to honour Wolverine’s call and invitation to all warriors and land defenders, all those that take the stance of full sovereignty and jurisdiction on our Territories.
In Washington DC, airport workers took action against poverty wages. According to DC Direct Action News:
On the 18th of January, airport contract workers from National Airport supported by union organizers gathered near the MLK Memorial, then marched on Independance Ave and stopped to blockade the intersection of 14th st and Independence Ave. Blackades there quickly stop traffic back to the 14th st Bridge, thus effectively blockading the bridge itself. This blockade was only held for a few minutes and was on the MLK holiday but is a clear warning of disruption to come unless these contract workers get their demands. The demand is simple: $15 an hour with benefits and the right to organize a union. Otherwise, Poverty doesn’t fly-and it doesn’t drive either. The Jan 18th blockade was a warning, the next one might not be.
Several of the National Airport contract workers decribed having to work three jobs to afford to eat, and barely being able to afford to travel to the airport to work. Contract workers getting in the $8 an hour range include skycaps, wheelchair assistants, cabin cleaners, vendors, and as many more as airports can get away with. In some other areas wages for these workers are currently in the $6.75 range.
Across the US, other workers faced arrests as they carried out actions on MLK Day, often in protest over poverty wages. While the ‘Fight for $15‘ is a very limited campaign and also generally only locks low-wage workers into still poverty wages, the push to organize, take action, and confront police and bosses is something that we all need to push. But these actions have to be moved from the hands of union organizers and into the hands of the workers themselves. Here are some collected tweets:
— MetroBoston (@MetroBOS) January 18, 2016
12 workers arrested at Newark airport MLK Day protest https://t.co/Uhl4oYIZnA
— Stop The Wars (@leftjew) January 19, 2016
— South Side Weekly (@SouthSideWeekly) January 19, 2016
In Minneapolis, a group of bus drivers walked off the job in a wildcat against poor working conditions and stagnant wages:
About 20 Minneapolis school bus drivers have walked off the job to protest low wages and undesirable working conditions.
The Minneapolis School District has a contract with Minneapolis & Suburban Bus Company, the parent company of Monarch Bus Service, which employs the drivers. The company notified the district Thursday of the drivers’ plans to abandon their afternoon and Friday morning routes.
One of the drivers who walked out, Abdinur Jimale, said said drivers’ wages have been stagnant at $16 or $17 per hour while other companies have raised wages to around $20.
He added the drivers don’t get enough hours, are losing routes and operating buses that are too cold.
“If the owners of the company really want to think about their work, they should think about the employees first instead of their budget,” Jimale said.
In Phoenix, bus drivers also struck against lack of access to bathrooms for several days. In the media, the elites played up tensions between workers standing up for themselves and low-income passengers.
— CBSN (@CBSNLive) January 21, 2016
In the face of union bureaucrats and leaders and also while protesting a visit by Obama, Detroit teachers stated a “sick-out” wildcat strike, shutting down schools as they struggled against abysmal working conditions. Such an action is extremely paramount, and points to increasing anger by everyday working and middle class Americans towards not only the economic system, but the “official” organizations that they are pushed towards working with to generate reforms: the Democratic Party and the unions. One African-American sick-out striker stated in a video:
We’re in a fight together, the United Auto Workers, the residents of Flint, Michigan, just working-class people across this nation. We have to stop being divided and realize that we’re all in this together. It’s not about race, it’s not about religion, this is class warfare, plain and simple.
— Candy Girl (@CheekyChick99) January 21, 2016
In other education news, students and parents took action to stop the relocation of several schools in Illinois by staging a sit-in for several hours during a meeting. One report read:
The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district wants to co-locate the high school grades from John Spry Community School in the building housing Maria Saucedo Elementary Scholastic Academy and Telpochcalli Elementary School, at 2850 W. 24th Blvd. in Little Village.
About three dozen parents and community members staged a sit-in in the Saucedo auditorium after a CPS hearing Wednesday night on the proposed co-location. The parents oppose the plan because they say the Saucedo-Telpochcalli building is already overcrowded. They also claim CPS proposed the co-location without input from parents.
The sit-in, according to the parents, lasted over four and a half hours.
— Revolution News (@NewsRevo) January 24, 2016
A banner was dropped in Denver during the American Football Conference. A press release reads:
Coloradans unveiled a banner reminding game-goers and attendant media that “Cops Are Killing Us For Sport” ahead of the 1:05pm MST kick-off of the National Football League (NFL) American Football Conference (AFC) championship game, to stand against racist policing and systemic violence. #ReclaimDenver unveiled the banner on the north face of Highland Bridge during the rush of pre-game tailgating traffic as a show of resistance against systemic unrepentant oppression of Black, Brown, Indigenous, Queer, Poor, and other marginalized people throughout greater Denver. Today, #ReclaimDenver did what Denver’s Mayor Michael Hancock refuses to do: took action to protect the people of Denver from police terror. People and vehicles came to a stop, witnessing the demand for a stop to state violence in Denver and beyond. Interested persons can follow updates via Twitter: @ReclaimDenver.
According to The Guardian, 53 people have been killed in 2016 by law enforcement in the United States so far.
Pigs in Denver were let off the hook for the horrific death of Michael Marshall, and in Oregon a State Trooper was given a promotion after they attacked a pulled over motorcyclist.
— Atlanta Organizing (@ATLOrganizing) January 19, 2016
In DeKalb County, Georgia, a protest camp, in many ways reminiscent of the one that sprung up in Minneapolis after the brutal police killing of Jamar Clark, has been set up to await the grand jury ruling of the police killing of Anthony Hill. One report reads:
A group of activists is continuing to stake out in front of the DeKalb County Courthouse ahead of a grand jury meeting involving an officer-involved fatal shooting.
Rise Up Georgia have camped out in frigid temperatures over the last several nights. They’re hosting a protest ahead of a grand jury meeting with District Attorney Robert James, who will decide whether to formally charge the officer responsible for the death of Anthony Hill.
The 27-year-old was naked and unarmed when he was shot by Officer Robert Olsen in March 2015. Olsen will testify during the grand jury hearing on Thursday.
In the last several days, the grand jury handed down an indictment for Hill’s killing, which means that the case will now go to court. Robert Olsen will join a small group of law enforcement officers that have even been indicted by a grand jury for killing someone, however it remains to be seen if Olsen will ever see jail time.
Struggle Against Borders
In Minneapolis, Unicorn Riot reported on a student walkout against the recent wave of ICE raids. The report reads:
On Wednesday, January 20th, 250-300 students walked out of public high schools across the Twin Cities to demand an end to ICE’s deportation of Immigrant families. The students assembled at MLK park in South Minneapolis and marched to Lake Street to protest the mass deportations from recent ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) raids across the nation.
ICE is well known for it’s targeted raids against Latino communities. What makes this latest wave of national raids is different from the rest is the fact it has targeted asylum seekers attempting to enter the country legally. Until recently, ICE raids were focusing primarily on undocumented workers. As recently as 2006, Worthington, Minnesota became witness to the largest workplace raid in history. Since then the rate at which immigrants are detained and deported out of the state has only increased and shows no signs of slowing down.
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) January 21, 2016
In response to these waves of raids and detentions a new generation of young High School students have poured into the streets to protest the inhumane treatment and terrorizing of immigrant communities.
In the late morning of January 20th, about 75 students in Southwest High School had a one hour sit-in throughout the school hallways complete with a period of 43 minutes of silence for the #Ayotzinapa43, they then marched down 50th Street to Washburn High School and met up with the students there to march together to MLK park.
MLK Day Weekend of Action
As we also reported last week, actions took place to “Reclaim MLK’s Radical Legacy.” Here are some that you may have missed, including the shut-down of the Bay Area bridge between Oakland and San Francisco:
— ashley yates (@brownblaze) January 19, 2016
— Ash J (@AshAgony) January 19, 2016
The No New Animal Labs campaign released a report on their recent actions in New York. It reads:
We have been campaigning against Skanska for over a year. On January 1, 2015, Richard Cavallaro took the position of CEO and President of Skanska USA, succeeding company veteran Michael McNally. The campaign to stop the Animal Research & Care Facility had recently been consolidated under the banner No New Animal Lab, and we made the point to inaugurate Richard with a simple letter, which urged him to cancel Skanska’s contract with the University of Washington and all plans to build an underground torture chamber for animals. Unfortunately, we had no hope that Richard would be diverted from his profit-seeking motives, and so we began efforts to #StormSkanska.
Fast-forward to today, in the wake of an amazing and inspiring weekend of action in New York, and we can see an important contrast.
This weekend was a success! Thanks to all who came out to #StormSkanska and #SwarmNY! We took it to the streets, their headquarters, the CEO’s front yard, and to some of their largest investors. Today stands in stark contrast to one year ago, when the campaign against Skanska was just starting to blossom. We know we are getting to them like we never have before. We are having an impact. The effectiveness of the grassroots was captured in Richard Cavallaro’s bitter grimace–we can storm Skanska, we can swarm their most important US figures, we can threaten their finances, and we can and will stop this lab.
Mexico On Fire
Workers staged a protest in Mexico City against conditions at a maquiladora (central hub for factory production). One report reads:
On January 13, 2016 the international boycott was launched against Lexmark products for violation of human and labor rights of their workers. The ceremony was held at the Angel of Independence in Mexico City, where a committee of workers in struggle Lexmark plant in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua was present, and simultaneously held protest actions in Lexington, Kentucky, where the offices of corporate America. Another act was held in El Paso, Texas, and also in the camp that remains from two and half months ago, despite the winter, just outside the maquiladora.
In Milpa Alta:
Inhabitants and the General Representation of Communal Property of Milpa Alta and Peoples Annexes, gathered Saturday morning 16 January, in the village of San Bartolo Xicomulco to reject the naval base and military equipment to be constructed in that community.
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