Fifty-two climate activists were arrested following a two-day railroad protest in Washington state, reported ABC News. Authorities in northwest Washington state's Skagit County arrested activists Sunday morning after the group shut down railroad tracks not far from two oil refineries just north of Seattle.
"About 150 people spent the night in tents and sleeping bags on the tracks near two refineries in northwest Washington."According to BNSF Railway spokesman Gus Melonas, the activists were asked to leave around 5 a.m. Sunday and most gathered their things and departed the area, which is near the town of Anacortes. Melonas also said trains began running again Sunday afternoon.
"It was peaceful. Eighty percent removed their belongings and cleared out."The 52 activists who were arrested were cited for trespassing according to the Skagit County Department of Emergency Management and one person was also cited for resisting arrest. According to Skagit County Sheriff Will Reichardt, officers advised protesters that they could move to another designated protest location before the activists were arrested. Emily Johnston, a spokeswoman for the group of activists, told ABC News that she expected everyone who was arrested to be processed and released from police custody. Johnston also said the protests would continue at new locations around Anacortes but that she did not expect anyone to return and attempt to shut down the railroad tracks. Johnston has previously participated in a blockade of the Seattle harbor in protest of Shell Oil's plans to drill in the arctic. She said the success of protests like the one in Anacortes this weekend is most evident in the way they inspire activists to speak out about climate change, even if it means being arrested. She also talked about the irony behind the practice of arresting people for protesting about serious environmental issues and the lack of government action.
"People power matters. We really need to hold the fossil fuel industry accountable."The rail line was closed by activists Friday, causing all rail traffic scheduled for the route to be rerouted, reported USA Today. The railroad spur provides crucial access and transportation for Shell and Tesoro oil refineries located close by, as well as animal feed and other products, prompting the arrests.
Dozens of activists also took to the water about 70 miles north of Seattle near the site of the two oil refineries in Skagit County, reported King 5 local news. The move came as part of day three of the protesters' demand for action on climate change and a sustainable transition away from fossil fuels.
"An estimated 2,000 protestors gathered near Anacortes over the weekend with the goal of blocking the transportation of oil to the state's oil refineries on land and on water."According to USA Today, the Washington state protests are actually part of a larger series of global actions that are calling on people worldwide to "break free" from their use of fossil fuels, a movement that has seen hundreds of activists arrested in recent years. Similar demonstrations were held at various locations nationwide over the weekend, including upstate New York, where climate activists gathered Saturday at a crude-oil shipment hub. The protestors sat on tracks used by crude oil companies along the Hudson River, blocking trains laden with product headed for oil barges in the Port of Albany.
"Albany is a key hub for crude-by-rail shipments from North Dakota's Bakken Shale region."[Photo via Twitter]