Facebook Twitter Instagram Youtube
December 6

Disrupt the Flows: War Against DAPL and Planetary Annihilation

Submitted to It’s Going Down

Hundreds of demonstrations have occurred across Turtle Island to express solidarity with the Oceti Sakowin and their fight for sovereignty against the development of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). These actions expand the struggle, by de-cententering the area in which conflict can occur and help transform supportive people from afar into active participants rather than passive social media spectators. #NoDAPL solidarity has mainly consisted of rallies, marches, vigils, lockdowns at banks or intersections, graffiti, speakouts, and in more recent cases vandalism at pipeline financiers as well as the blockage of transportation corridors essential to interstate commerce and resource extraction. This text seeks to catalog the recent gestures of blockage and elaborate on why spreading an anti-infrastructural approach, with material blockades along major transport networks and clusters of production, may be an important weapon for leveraging power in the fight against pipelines and their world.

RECENT ATTACKS ON LOGISTICS

Sacred Ground, also known as “Frontline Camp” or “1851 Treaty Camp,” was established on October 23rd, 2016 as the only camp in the direct path of the DAPL. Without evicting Sacred Ground, the DAPL could not be completed, and evict it they did. Hundreds of riot police fired tear gas, sprayed pepper spray and beat Water Protectors with batons, pushing them south out of the construction zone. Numerous arrests were made, but the Water Protectors did not go without a fight. Barricades constructed out of trees, plywood, automobiles (war ponies), and tires were set ablaze. At night, rocks and molotov cocktails were thrown. The images of the battle captured the international spotlight, signaled an intensification of the struggle, and raised the bar for what appropriate solidarity should look like. It inspired revolutionaries, environmental activists, and indigenous groups into taking action in their own localities. The following is a short summary of actions that have followed the Sacred Ground camp.

Kahnawake/Montreal, Honoré Mercier Bridge Blockade, October 28, 2016

In response to the siege and violent eviction of Sacred Ground, Mohawks in Kahnawake territory erected a blockade and shut down an onramp for 2 hours on Highway 132.  Mercier bridge is an extremely vital commuter link providing the only access across the St. Lawerence River from the south. An estimated 30 million vehicles use the bridge every year, with about 1.4 million of them being trucks used for industrial/commercial purposes (about 4000/day).

Kahnewake, Canadian Pacific Rail Blockade, November 3, 2016

Mohawks close Canadian Pacific tracks for 5 hours at Adirondack Junction in Kahnawake Territory to show further solidarity with Oceti Sakowin. Their statement also says that the women have identified a link between the trains that travel through Kahnawake on the CP rail and the origins “from Standing Rock of the Bakken crude oil that is extracted from North and South Dakota.”

Atlanta, Georgia, Rail Blockade and Sabotage of CSX Transportation Rail, November 4, 2016

14938383_10154731839889686_2992464380624784560_n.jpg

A solidarity march made its way to the CSX Hulsey Yard in East Atlanta, occupying it for 6 hours. The Hulsey Yard is a major intermodal terminal, providing rail-to-truck and truck-to-rail transloading services. It is also a major artery for CSX thoroughfare into and out of Atlanta with a wide variety of industrial products and goods passing through along the rails: Automobiles, Coal, Gas Tankers, lumber, military equipment; nearly everything you could imagine being transported via train has been seen travelling on these tracks. Barricades were erected out of tires, scrap lumber and railroad ties and other junk laying around the edges of the yard. Operations came to a halt with several engines trapped at the yard lead, and the mainline being jammed up, preventing any passage for trains needing to pass through Atlanta. Members of the crowd of protectors lit a major fire before dispersing, igniting the creosote soaked railroad ties below the blaze. Significant fire damage was done to the tracks, requiring a day of repair and rebuilding, further blocking traffic through the yard.

Olympia, Washington, Blockade of Union Pacific at Port of Olympia, November 11-17, 2016

Olympia stand.jpeg

A blockade was erected along a private rail line operated by Union Pacific outside of the Port facilities, in solidarity with Oceti Sakowin. Protesters essentially halted interstate commerce for the Port and other local business customers (e.g. Mottman Business Park), including a train shipping fracking proppants bound for North Dakota’s Bakken Oil Fields (the same oil set to flow through the Dakota Access Pipeline). The blockade became an indefinite camp, staying for almost a week before being violently evicted by riot police from three different jurisdictions. Fires were set on tracks leading through downtown Olympia.

Kahnewake, Highway 132 Blockade, November 15, 2016

Nearly 200 people gathered in the early morning to protest against the controversial pipeline along Highway 132. Later, 150 students from Kahnawake Survival School, the local high school, blocked the highway.

Mandan, North Dakota, BNSF Rail Blockade, November 15, 2016

BNSF.jpg

400 protesters put a pickup truck and tree branches on BNSF Railway tracks Tuesday near a pipeline work staging area, about an hour away from the large-scale camps resisting the Dakota Access Pipeline. The railroad says trains were delayed three hours. A group of protesters also blocked access to the yard by disabling a car between the road and railroad tracks, by slashing the tires and dismantling part of the engine. They filled the vehicle with tumbleweed, and the Morton County Sheriff’s Department alleges they tried to start it on fire.

Bellingham, Washington, BNSF Rail Blockade, November 15, 2016

bellinghamWA.jpeg

From  1:30 p.m to Sundown, railroad tracks were blocked by a large group of people that started as a demonstration, including a symbolic lockdown by a married elderly couple.

Montreal, Canadian National Railway Blockade, November 15, 2016

montreal.jpg

Fifteen non-native militants blocked the Canadian National railroad tracks in Pointe-Saint-Charles around 4 PM. The action lasted for around twenty minutes, during the busiest time of train circulation in Montreal.

Kahnewake People’s Fire/CP Rail Blockade, November 16, 2016

kahnawakenov16.jpg

Canadian Pacific Rail and AMT commuter rail blocked for 24 hours by Mohawks. 

“We should be defending ourselves every way we can. The train blockage here was a great success. A train did come at 2.00 am. Warriors lit flares and turned on bright lights and went on the train to kindly ask them to reverse. They did. The passengers who work in Montreal made other arrangements to get to work such as buses. They supported what we were doing.”
-Anonymous Kahnewake Mohawk Warrior

Kahnewake CP Rail Blockade, November 30, 2016

Mohawks from Kahnawake prevented freight trains carrying oil or other dangerous materials from passing through the territory on a Canadian Pacific Railway line for 24 hours.

“We as the Mohawk people have a duty to protect mother earth, and we will continue to defend our mother earth for the coming generations as our ancestors did,”

 -Kahionwinehshon Phillips, Mohawk

AGAINST PIPELINES AND THE WORLD THAT PRODUCED THEM

The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is a major infrastructure project that will connect the Bakken Oil fields of North Dakota to domestic and foreign consumers. In the last ten years we have witnessed an explosion in domestic energy projects. Energy independence is a national security issue: The U.S. Govt knows it cannot rely on oil from politically unstable regions such as the Middle East. America’s dependence on imported oil as a primary source of energy proved to be a weakness that could be exploited to influence or subvert U.S. foreign policy, has disrupted the economy, and has transferred billions of dollars to foreign national treasuries hostile to U.S. global hegemony.

“At a time of such great challenge for America, no single issue is as fundamental to our future as energy. America’s dependence on oil is one of the most serious threats that our nation has faced. It bankrolls dictators, pays for nuclear proliferation, and funds both sides of our struggle against terrorism. It puts the American people at the mercy of shifting gas prices, stifles innovation and sets back our ability to compete.”
 —Barack Obama, January 26, 2009

Pipelines are pieces of critical infrastructure produced to satisfy the energy needs of the global capitalist world. There isn’t a way to have operating freeways, stores full of the latest electronic gadgets, military occupations of foreign countries, or Super Wal-Marts full of food grown by wage slaves in the global south without the oil infrastructure. To be against pipelines is to be against the very world we inhabit. No struggle that sets out to permanently destroy the possibility of all future pipelines imposed on this Earth can ever be successful without radically transforming the society that produces them through its energy needs.

The DAPL will cause irreparable damage to the Missouri River, which 10 million people depend on, including people from 10 states and 28 different indigenous territories. The DAPL is an insanely destructive project, but it is just one of a million examples of how land and life are commodified and how our lives are arranged and controlled through oppressive and authoritarian politics. It is emblematic of the system that promotes the insane myth that measurable economic productivity and infinite growth are the purpose of human organization and is a continuation of the colonial genocide that began over 500 years ago.

How they are developing it is similar to how our everyday lives are managed: It’s the development and hierarchicalization of space by power, it’s the constant surveillance and intimidation, the occupation of roads and neighborhoods by armed police. The world of the pipeline is in systemic racism, in social isolation, the wage system, in prison. It’s in the suicides, addictions, rapes. It’s in the explosions and massive spills. The pipeline is there in the rising tides of climate change that’s swallowing small island communities and coastal villages. It’s in the drought and forest fires that have been incinerating the forests and wildlife of Georgia and the Carolinas for seven weeks straight, and in the hurricanes and tropical storms that are tearing apart cities with more ferocity every year. No DAPL is the event that has allowed us all to meet; to find a common struggle and the means by which we confront and attack the system that is destroying the planet and all that is sacred. It is one way that some avenge their ancestors, and produce, with all of the others, a new way of thinking and doing that breaks the prevailing stupidity.

REMEMBERING THE WIDESPREAD SUPPORT FOR THE OKA WARRIOR

*Much of this section was straight up jacked from Warrior Publications which is paraphrased from the books, “People of the Pines” and “Entering the War Zone”

“Putting up those barricades, we developed a stronger sense of pride. Protecting what was left of our territory, we regained a sense of history…. putting up those barricades, protecting our land– that gave us power. I became a warrior because it gave me a chance to make up for a history that cheated us out of our territory…there was a coming together, and I wanted to be part of that.”

-Anonymous Mohawk Warrior  (People of the Pines, 281)

To really understand the power of widespread anti-infrastructural solidarity with Indigenous land struggles it would be mistaken to not study the Oka Crisis. During summer of 1990, The Oka Crisis was the top story in Canadian news. It was a crisis that paralyzed an entire province, gripped the nation’s imagination, and forever transformed the politics of aboriginal people in Canada. The armed warriors at both Kanehsatake and Kahnawake fighting to protect a sacred burial site from the development of a golf-course, inspired widespread support and solidarity from Indigenous people throughout Canada. Protests, occupations, blockades, and sabotage actions were carried out, indicating the great potential for revolt amongst Indigenous peoples.

Seton Lake Blockade of BC Rail

By late July, Indigenous barricades had been set up on seven roads and railways in British Colombia, initially just in support of the Mohawk warriors, but later mutated into a negotiating tactic in a determined effort to seek justice from the provincial government. The blockades wreaked havoc on the tourism and forestry industries of central British Colombia, halted freight train circulation in the interior of the province, and brought losses of $750,000 a day to BC Rail (People of the Pines, 281).

At the peak of the crisis, the Mercier Bridge and Routes 132, 138, and 207 were all blocked creating substantial disruption to traffic. When the Kahnawake-manned barricades at the Mercier Bridge  were removed,  protesters at Kanehsatake knew that they had little hope  of continuing the struggle without  such  an important negotiating  item; they had lost an important resource.

In northern Ontario, Anicinabe near Longlac (Long Lake) blocked the Trans-Canada Highway in early August. On August 13 they also blocked Canadian National Rail for about 1 week (costing an est. $2.6 million in lost revenue each day). This blockade was soon followed by blockades on nearby Canadian Pacific railways by the Pic Mobert and Pays Plat bands. When court injunctions were obtained by railway officials, another blockade would be set up by another band.

In mid-August, a railway bridge in northeastern Alberta was set ablaze. In late August, just after hours after RCMP cleared railway at Seton Lake, BC, a fire caused extensive damage to Seton Portage railway bridge.

In response to rail blockades, a CP Rail official, John Cox, stated:

“Virtually all our transcontinental traffic has been disrupted. We are at the mercy of individual bands & whatever decisions they make” (Entering the War Zone, p. 147).

In early September, after military advances into Mohawk territory, 5 hydro-electric towers were felled in southwestern Ontario. A railway bridge was also set on fire in the same region.

In southern Alberta, Peigan Lonefighters began diverting the Oldman River away from a half-constructed dam. On September 7, dozens of police escorted provincial employees and heavy equipment to repair the dyke which had been breached by the Peigan. Warning shots were fired and a 33-hour standoff occurred.

In the end, the widespread campaign of blockades, sabotage and occupation served to put extreme costs on attempts to evict the Mohawks from their occupation and proved to be very effective in securing their victory to protect their burial grounds and pines.

POWER RESIDES IN THE INFRASTRUCTURE OF THIS WORLD

As argued in The Invisible Committee’s text, To Our Friends, Power no longer operates on the level of representation or institutions (President, King, Pope, General Secretary, etc). “The real power structure today is in the material, physical and technological organization of the enginereered, configured, purposed world.” Power is exercised through the global capitalist economy which is arranged through an integrated infrastructure of production clusters (a geographic concentration of interconnected businesses, suppliers, and associated institutions in a particular field), transportation networks and standing armies of police. From the mine and refinery to the railroad and port; from the distribution facility to the trucking route; from the loading docks to the shopping mall; through the information and energy that circulate through wire networks and broadband fibres; these are nodes that power “flows” through.

Shiri Pasternak noted:

“The real role of right wing alarmists in the Idle No More movement: to maintain the economic status quo, because territory is capital. Land is money. And the circulation of goods, resources and energy through territory is the very essence of capitalism today… The fact is that critical infrastructure in Canada is at the mercy of Indigenous peoples, who are more rural than Canadians and have access to important arteries for economic flows: transportation corridors, energy sectors, and sites of natural resource extraction…This vulnerability is deadly to the logistics industry.

Logistics is a business science concerned with the management of goods and information through global supply chains. As the World Bank has declared: ‘A competitive network of global logistics is the backbone of international trade’…For an industry dependent on maintaining open channels for capital circulation, a blockade means massive losses: the trucking industry alone is worth $65 billion dollars and employs over 260,000 drivers.” 

– The Economics of Insurgency, Thoughts on Idle No More & Critical infrastructure

The police even attested to this point:

“First Nations have the ability to paralyze this country by shutting down travel and trade routes, It is a difficult situation no matter how we view or address it.” 

-Chris Lewis, commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police

Historically infrastructure has been a major component of anti-capitalist social movements. For example, Timothy Mitchell argues that the coal industry was the condition of possibility for the workers movement to be as successful as it was. As soon as the switch to oil was initiated, you no longer had large numbers of unskilled proletarians making the economy run. Instead, inanimate infrastructure was created to facilitate the new oil industry. When infrastructure itself did not take the place of masses of workers, the oil industry required far fewer jobs and those that did exist tended to be more highly skilled.

63.jpg

An analysis of supply chain capitalism is necessary to understand the condition of Earth today and the dilemmas it faces. Supply chain capitalism refers to commodity chains based on subcontracting, outsourcing, and allied arrangements in which labor, capital and nature are mobilized in fragmented, but linked economic niches. Such supply chains connect seemingly independent entrepreneurs through expansive transportation infrastructure, making it possible for commodity processes to span the globe. Known in industry terms such as Toyotism or Just-in-time Production (JIT), this is the nature of the modern economy. Each particular flow in a supply chain is a moment of the overall reproduction of capitalism and its society. To physically block these flows of commodities, is to attack the system as a whole, for most of what accounts for global commodity production is submitted to the logic of circulation.  Everything is oriented around continuous movement and anything not in circulation cuts profits, it is a sitting waste. From the perspective of those that blockade, this emphasis on the quick and never ending flow of commodities multiplies a blockages power.

Pipelines are one of many components of critical infrastructure. Because of the volume of product (gasoline, natural gas, crude oil) they transport, they are a vital part of the capitalist economy and it’s why during war, they are often subject to attack. Since World War II, the Air Force has been developing the idea of “infrastructure warfare,” seeing civil and industrial infrastructure (bridges, railroads, pipelines, etc) as valuable targets for bringing its opponents to their knees.

During the Idle No More movement’s January 16th Day of Action, Indigenous demonstrators stopped passenger railway traffic lines between Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. Others stalled major highways and rail lines in parts of Alberta, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Manitoba, including Portage la Prairie, which a CN Rail spokesman described as a “critical link” in its network (do your homework: maximize damage/risk). Demonstrators also gathered in Windsor, Ontario at the Ambassador Bridge to Michigan, shutting down traffic through North America’s busiest border crossing for trade between Canada and the U.S. with 10,000 trucks on average passing daily. These anti-infrastructural actions suggest a conscious link between resitance to threatened lands and blockage of circulation.

Supply chains are vulnerable: every supply chain is now reaching such a level of specialization that if one of them disappeared that would be enough to paralyze the whole chain. In the absence of standing inventories, a blockade of just a few days could effectively paralyse several production sites and retailers. The economic cost of even a week of such co-ordinated efforts spread across the so-called United States would be crippling and impossible to control given current police and military resources. There is no railroad terminal, port, or trucking distribution facility without the oil infrastructure used to power the train engines, trucks and barges. Inversely, there is no way to build pipelines without the railroad terminals, trucks and production facilities used to forge or transport pipeline equipment.

BLOCKADES SHUT DOWN THE WORLD: LEVERAGING POWER, BUILDING NEW FORMS OF LIFE

When one enters the NoDAPL camps, they are greeted by over 200 tribal flags whipping in the gusty prairie wind. Over a thousand tents, teepes, longhouses, wigwams, trailers, and other structures line the distance. People ride on horseback in every direction while children play and elders sit in quiet discussions around fires. The camps are full of builders, thinkers, and dwellers that have put their arsenal of skills together in producing communal life on camp. Protectors have built heated gravel showers for bathing. People sew together large pieces of canvas on industrial, foot-pedaled sewing machines to construct teepees and yurts. Others chop and mill wood. Some operate drones to surveill police and construction operations. Schools, communal kitchens and libraries operate in retired surplus military tents. Water Protectors scheme, conspire and plot their next missions around fires at night. Common life is chaotically organized (there are no hierarchical leaders determing camp operations), but in an effective, self-determined way.

As we have seen with the Oka Crisis and several other indigenous rebellions, blockades can help leverage negotiating power for Indigenous people over their lands. When planned strategically, blockades can physically block the shipments of vital materials for the specific mega-infrasture projects that call so many people into resistance. As was earlier noted, a large shipment of frac proppants was blocked in Olympia for six days, enough to pose a threat to the stability of business for Bakken Oil sites. Blockades attack the global system of capitalism by immediately disrupting the networks that facilitate its production. Infrastructure itself is a dominant force of governing that underpins industrial culture as a whole. Not only does it facilitate capitalist commodity flows, it also embodied in everything that produces life and who we are as individuals, as groups and a society. Land use, the way we feed ourselves, how we are organized spatially and relate to one another, the way we ensure our economic well-being are all entangled with infrastructure.

14639796_10154731845904686_1694095709981984439_n.jpg

Not only can blockades “shut down the world”, they also open up space for a new one to be built, or in the case of colonized peoples, a world restored. We can look to many of the indigenous blockades or occupations of the last several decades for the examples of ceremonial, culinary, and other socially reproductive practices that point toward new ways of living which are themselves produced through resistance. Similarly, we see the revitalization of warrior culture being expressed at Standing Rock and other moments of indigenous revolt to be indicative of a broader possibility of life without the state or capitalism We can also see a new world being forged in the social experimentation and land-based communal living found in occupation/blockade of the international airport in Notre-Dame-des-Landes, where people raise animals, grow food, and live, build, and defend their land together.

Lookout tower at La ZAD (Notre-Dame-des-Landes)

The NoDAPL camps are part of the experiences through which protectors are developing their collective abilities to both foster and endure the present apocalypse. What gives the NoDAPL encampents their strength isn’t just their ability to physically interfere with the pipeline project from time to time in spectacularized clashes. What gives it it’s punch and its ability to disrupt the enemy’s infrastructure in a sustained way is the life it has produced.  We risk framing our struggles as only reactive if we fail to point out that in struggle we can create a different, better world. The camps of NoDAPL are producing a way of life that is worth living and one that is worth defending.

>We hold evident that blockades are a crucial tactic in our war against planetary annihilation. We hope that this text has demonstrated this. With this tactical imperative, we call on all warriors and revolutionaries around the world to immediately orient themselves around blockading infrastructure. Collectives must research infrastructure to find the most vulnerable chokepoints and get organized to block them in effective ways. Those without fighting comrades can still contribute by engaging in lone wolf acts of sabotage.

Be Safe. Get Going.

FURTHER RESOURCES

Plan your action! Empire Logistics is an interactive mapping project begun in 2009. As a collaborative initiative, Empire Logistics maps the global supply chain through research that articulates the infrastructure and ‘externalized costs’—human, economic, social and environmental—of the international flow of things.” You can find key rail intersections, ports, warehousing distribution sites, etc with detailed information such as tons shipped per year to really get the most bang for your buck (or the most buck for your block?).

People of the Pines is the insider’s account of the amazing events at Oka and Kahnawake in the summer of 1990, written by two journalists who lived at the warrior encampment in the final weeks of the military siege.

Petropolis is an interactive map that documents the oil pipeline infrastructure throughout North America with particular attention paid to the Chicagoland area. The map serves as a valuable research in locating possible targets and  shows the type of research that local struggles could engage in.

Power is Logistical, Block Everything!, Invisible Committee: Much of the analysis in the “Power Resides in the Infrastructure of the World” section is owed to (if not directly plagiarized) from the chapter “Power is Logistical, Block Everything!” in Invisible Committee’s book, “To Our Friends”  

Warrior Publications: Gord Hill (Kwakwaka’wakw nation) runs this fabulous website that seeks to function as an historical archive of Indigenous anti-colonial struggles and resistance, and to provide analysis of these struggles.

While you’re here, we need your support. To continue running the website, we need support from community members like you. Will you support It’s Going Down, and help build independent media?...so donate?

Share This:

Written By:

Anonymous Contributor

This submission came to It's Going Down anonymously through itsgoingdown.org/contribute. IGD is not the author nor are we responsible for the post content.

More Like This