Native Voices Education Symposium

Our friends with Idle No More Central Oklahoma are organizing and hosting an educational symposium called Native Voices. Topics to be discussed include “Removing Obstacles to Higher Education”, “Mass Incarceration and Native People”, “Protecting Turtle Island”, and “The Importance of the Indian Child Welfare Act”. Folks from Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance will be sharing during the Protecting Turtle Island panel. This whole day will be a great opportunity to learn and connect with each other. Idle No More Central Oklahoma is also soliciting donations to help put this event on, please chip in!

nativevoicesflyer

 

 

Fitzgerald Scott’s charges dismissed!

FitzDismissedOn June 24th, Fitzgerald Scott locked down with 7 other protesters to resist construction of the Southern leg of the Keystone XL. TODAY in court, Fitzgerald Scott’s charges of trespassing and obstruction were DISMISSED!

Alec Johnson is still facing trespassing charges and two obstruction charges which together carry a maximum two year sentence. Elizabeth Leja is still facing trespassing charges. Expect more updates soon.

Donations to our legal fund are being accepted and are greatly appreciated!

GPTSR in court today for Motion to Dismiss charges and other legal updates!

Thirty three arrests were made in “Oklahoma” last year during Keystone XL work-stopping direct actions. Of those arrests, fifteen have been dismissed, fifteen were resolved through plea deals with fines and court costs only, and three cases are still pending.

 

Elizabeth Leja, a 75 year old resident of Norman, was the first person to lock down to KXL construction equipment with Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance in in Muscogee (Creek) Nation land by treaty, Ofuskee County, Oklahoma. This summer, Elizabeth will be going to trial for a trespass charge which if convicted would at most result in a fine.

 

During last summer’s “Fearless Summer” week of actions, Fitzgerald Scott, along with 9 other activists, was arrested shutting down construction of a Keystone XL pump station in Seminole Nation land by treaty, Seminole County, Oklahoma. Fitzgerald refused a plea deal and is potentially going to trial facing trespassing and obstruction charges, if convicted facing up to a year in jail. Today in the Seminole County courthouse, a judge will be hearing evidence for a motion to dismiss Fitzgerald’s charges.

 

Alec Johnson also shut down construction of the KXL Gulf Coast project, this time in Choctaw Nation land by treaty, Atoka County, Oklahoma. This action resulted in Trespass and two Obstruction charges. Alec’s trespass charge was dismissed but Obstruction charges still stand and carry a potential sentence of one year for each count (2 years total) in the Atoka County jail. A motion to dismiss hearing is scheduled for May 7th.

 

Please help spread the word about these people and their fight. Court costs and fines are likely, as well as potential jail time. Your donations are needed to help pay those fines and support jailed friends if it comes to that. Thank you so much for your support!

 

meme updated

RELEASE: ANTI-FRACKING ACTIVISTS ARRESTED ON “TERRORISM HOAX” CHARGES RELEASE STATEMENTS.

Please consider sharing this and donating to our legal defense fund! http://gptarsandsresistance.org/donate/

For Immediate Release: ANTI-FRACKING ACTIVISTS ARRESTED ON “TERRORISM HOAX” CHARGES RELEASE STATEMENTS.
Contact: gptsrmedia@gmail.com

Oklahoma City, OK: On December 13th of last year, anti-fracking activists with Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance staged a demonstration at the Devon Tower to protest the State of Oklahoma’s subsidizing of irresponsible and dangerous oil and gas extraction and the health effects that Devon’s practices have on communities in Oklahoma and elsewhere. Four were arrested—two for locking themselves inside a revolving door, and two for hanging a banner inside the (open to the public) atrium of Devon Tower.  Moriah Stephenson and Stefan Warner, the two Oklahomans arrested for dropping the banner, were booked in on charges of “disorderly conduct,” “criminal trespass,” and “terrorism hoax”—the latter referring to a small quantity of glitter that fell off the banner. The escalated charge of “terrorism hoax” carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, and serves to brand activists with the “terrorist” label to delegitimize real concerns for the health and safety of Oklahomans.

The charges against Stephenson and Warner are a part of a larger campaign to criminalize dissent—the Canadian-based corporation TransCanada has been meeting with local law enforcement, including the Oklahoma Fusion Center in April of 2013, and encouraging them to pursue terrorism charges for acts of peaceful protest.  From journalist Will Potter: “TransCanada offers police a playbook on how to go after activists. The company suggests prosecuting using criminal trespass, criminal conspiracy, criminal instrument or device (the PVC pipe used for non-violent civil disobedience), grand juries, and “federal/state anti-terrorism statues [sic].””http://www.greenisthenewred.com/blog/transcanada-police-presentation-on-protests/7094/

“My intention on December 13th, in the tradition of Rev. Martin Luther King Junior was to ‘arouse the conscience’ of a state that refuses to provide storm shelters for children at public schools yet has the gall to pay out $645,000,000 in tax subsidies to the oil and gas industry the past three fiscal years,” says Stefan Warner, one of the Oklahoma City residents facing 10 years behind bars on possible “terrorism hoax” charges for a glittery banner.
[See also: http://okpolicy.org/unnecessary-and-unaffordable]

“I know what the water looks like after a frack site has wreaked its havoc, and I know what cancer looks like after the water has gone bad and the flares stop burning,” said Moriah Stephenson. “At every stage of the fracking process, there’s contamination.  93% of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing processes have been proven to damage health, and with the scale of fracking close to Oklahoma communities I’m worried for the health of folks who live nearby.”
[See also: http://www.catskillmountainkeeper.org/our-programs/fracking/whats-wrong-with-fracking-2/health-impacts/]

Stefan Warner’s statement can be viewed here: http://bit.ly/1er7TE0
Moriah Stephenson’s statement can be viewed here: http://bit.ly/1ghJrX5
Both Moriah and Stefan are available for comment and are willing to go on camera. Email gptsrmedia@gmail.com for photo requests.

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Stefan Warner, life-long resident of “Oklahoma” facing potential “terrorism hoax” charges, releases statement.

Stefan Warner, one of the activists facing up to ten years in prison for the banner drop.

Stefan Warner, one of the activists facing up to ten years in prison for the banner drop.

Please consider donating to our legal fund to help Stefan and Moriah fight these absurd charges! http://gptarsandsresistance.org/donate/ 

Do you remember where you were April 19th, 1995? I was seven years old, in first grade at Clara Reynolds Elementary School in Harrah, Oklahoma. I still remember coming home from school and seeing the devastation on the television. For those of us in the Oklahoma City metro who lived here in 1995, we still carry the memory of the chaos and panic of this country’s largest domestic terror attack with us. Growing up, I visited the memorial of the Murrah Building bombing on several occasions. Seeing the faces of the people whose lives were lost, I learned how violence impacts people and communities. Four years ago a man whose daughter died in the Murrah Building bombing spoke at my church about his loss and personal transformation. To say the least, a sense of empathy was ingrained in me. Through my faith, I became committed to non-violent, peaceful resistance.

Eighteen years later, I’m facing the possibility of “terrorism hoax” charges which carries a maximum of ten years in prison. After witnessing real terrorism as a child in Oklahoma and through my commitment to Christian pacifism, I understand the seriousness of violence. I would never use violence or the threat of violence as a form of protest. My intention on December 13th, , in the tradition of Rev. Martin Luther King Junior, was to “arouse the conscience” of a state that refuses to provide storm shelters for children at public schools yet has the gall to pay out $645,000,000 in tax subsidies to the oil and gas industry the past three fiscal years. I helped attach a banner to the second story railing of the open-to-the-public atrium in the Devon Energy Tower. If you see the pictures, a small amount of glitter fell to the floor as employees walked by, unalarmed. We explained to employees this event was a non-violent, peaceful protest, and I left the building when told to by security, since I was hoping to avoid being arrested for trespassing. I left the building, and looked for my friends. Hoping to make a statement that usually goes unheard; we placed a banner inside the largest symbol of corporate welfare in Oklahoma. I had no intention of scaring anyone, nor do I believe I truly did.

Stefan complying and being placed into a police car.

Stefan being arrested by Oklahoma City Police.

TransCanada, the Canadian corporation that John Richels (CEO of Devon) sits on the board of, has been educating law enforcement along the route of the Keystone XL pipeline in how to pursue “terrorist” felony charges against people who engage in non-violent, peaceful protest. Obviously I am concerned about my freedom, but this is not only about me. This is a disgraceful, obvious attempt to dissuade the public from letting our voices be heard. This is an attack on our constitutionally protected, first amendment rights. How is it possible that a Canadian corporation can come here, attempt to silence me, and tell us what terrorism is?

Activism, disagreement, and exercising freedom of speech in peaceful and non-violent ways are simply not forms of terrorism.

Sincerely,
Stefan Warner

Statement from Moriah Stephenson, one of the two activists facing potential “terrorism hoax” charges.

 

Moriah Stephenson, graduate student and concerned resident of Oklahoma

Moriah Stephenson, graduate student and concerned resident of Oklahoma

I grew up in Oklahoma chasing thunderstorms and running barefoot in pastures. I know the smell of a tornado. I know Oklahoma streams and smiles and sunsets and open spaces. I also know Oklahoma heartache. I know what fracking flaring looks like, when the excess natural gas is burned off into the air, sometimes for weeks, months, or years on end. I know what the water looks like after a frack site has wreaked its havoc, and I know what cancer looks like after the water has gone bad and the flares stop burning. I am saddened by the natural gas and oil industries’ greed and disregard for life, and I think it is important to draw attention to Devon’s involvement in fracking and tar sands mining through non-violent, peaceful acts of civil disobedience.

My name is Moriah Stephenson, and on December 13, 2013, I attended a non-violent, peaceful protest at the Devon Energy Building that was intended to draw attention to Devon’s involvement in hydraulic fracturing and tar sands mining. My intention was to hang a glittery banner that was dramatic, pretty, and would highlight the similarities between Devon’s disregard for life and “The Capitol’s” disregard for life as portrayed through the fictional story told in The Hunger Games. I am a waitress, and I am a student at the University of Oklahoma. I had two papers due the weekend of the 13th. After the protest, my intention was to go home and work on papers. I had no intention of going to jail or “scaring” anyone.

banner

When we unfurled the banner and saw the glitter fall to the ground, we immediately felt guilty because we knew the janitor would have to clean it up. There was no panic, and almost immediately Devon employees began touching the banner and taking it down. Our hope was for the banner to stay up as long as possible, not to create any kind of “scare.” As we exited the building a janitor began cleaning up the glitter with a broom. No HazMat. No FBI. Stefan Warner turned to her and apologized for the mess. We exited the building and rallied on a public sidewalk with other protesters. The police arrived and began looking for some way to book us all into jail. The police arrested two of us and booked us into jail under the charge of “terrorism hoax.”

 

I know the sound of terrorism. I felt the Murrah Building Bombing shake my body; I will never forget. My grandfather, a doctor, provided free medical care for those wounded. I was chosen to paint a tile for the memorial. Calling non-violent, peaceful protesting “terrorism” is an insult to all of those who suffered due to the indiscriminate violence that ensued April 19, 1995. Activism that is attempting to protect land and lives in Oklahoma is not terrorism. Charging us with “terrorism hoax” for hanging up a glittery banner is insulting, inconsiderate, and disrespectful to all of those who have actually experienced terrorist violence. TransCanada Corporation has been encouraging the police to charge environmental activists with varying charges that contain the word “terrorism” in order to scare and silence dissent.

My hometown is older than Oklahoma statehood and is now being destroyed by the oil and gas industry. In rural Oklahoma, where people go to see stars at night, I have seen the brightness of fracking flares dim out the stars. It is heartbreaking to think that we have reached a point in which I could face ten years in prison for peacefully hanging up a banner. Ultimately, this is an issue of free speech. A corporation is using scare tactics to try to silence my story and my voice. If nothing else, it is unfair for TransCanada and Devon to engage the government in silencing free speech through the threat of “terrorism” charges.

BREAKING: Earth First! activists lock down inside Devon Tower in protest of Tar Sands extraction and plans to frack the Eagle Ford Shale.

bannerTwo folks have been booked in with “Terrorism Hoax” State Felonies, which can carry a ten year sentence. The “terrorism hoax?” Glitter that fell from the banner. They’ve also been booked in additional misdemeanors. The two folks who locked down are being charged with two counts of trespass. We’re working on getting the $3,500 together to get them out. Please donate at http://gptarsandsresistance.org/donate/

BREAKING: Earth First! activists lock down inside Devon Tower in protest of Tar Sands extraction and plans to frack the Eagle Ford Shale.

Contact: Eric Whelan, gptsrmedia@gmail.com, (405) 924-7356

Oklahoma City, OK: Early Friday morning, two activists with Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance (GPTSR) and Cross Timbers Earth First! locked themselves inside a revolving door at the Devon Tower in protest of Devon’s involvement in toxic tar sands extraction and fracking, as well as plans to increase fracking in the Eagle Ford Shale. Simultaneously, a banner displaying a Mockingjay from the popular Hunger Games series was unfurled from the second story, reading: “The Odds are Never in Our Favor.” Imagery from the Hunger Games was employed to highlight the parallel between industrial sacrifice zones in real life, and the resource colonies (Districts) that are subjected to state and economic violence in the series. This action coincides with two days of trial for folks in the Mi’kmaq Warrior Society who were arrested while preventing natural gas exploration on their traditional lands.

In 2010, Devon Energy’s Jackfish 1 facility on Beaver Lake Cree First Nations territory in Alberata, Canada experienced a failure at one of the wellheads. The failure sent a plume of bitumen-laced, high-temperature steam into the air for nearly 36 hours. Long seen as a responsible and benevolent corporate community member, Devon Energy is a key player in the deadly tar sands industry. And though Devon Energy has been touted as practicing the safest and greenest form of tar sands extraction, the form of extraction that Devon practices, steam assisted gravity drainage, emits 2.5x the greenhouse emissions as open mining according to the Pembina Institute. Additionally, since 80% of tar sands reserves lie too deep within the earth to mine, this type of extraction will utilize 30x more land area than open mining.

“I’m opposed to the industry’s blatant disregard for human wellbeing in the pursuit of profit,” said Cory Mathis of Austin, TX—one of the activists locked down inside Devon. “These industries poison countless communities, often deceive and coerce folks into signing contracts, and when that doesn’t work, they use eminent domain to steal the land. Texas and Oklahoma have long been considered sacrifice zones for the oil and gas industry, and people have for the most part learned to roll over and accept the sicknesses and health issues that come with the temporary and unsustainable boost in employment.”

 

 

Folks locked down, facing two counts of trespass.

Folks locked down, facing two counts of trespass.

“I’m here to try to bring to light the damage being done by tar sands extraction and fracking. These companies have been deliberately hiding and suppressing information from the general public, all-the-while building their public image of being charitable and creating jobs. It’s the same story all the way from the Athabasca tar sands to the Gulf—we hear the ridiculous proposition that a company that routinely profits off of poisoning folks is somehow capable of being ‘philanthropic’,” said Caroline McNally, the other activist locked down.

CEO Jim Richels also sits on the board of TransCanada, the company who built the Gulf Coast Segment of the toxic Keystone XL, and whose Northern Segment is awaiting presidential approval.

Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance, a direct action collective, opposes all forms of Tar Sands exploitation, whether it be Trans Canada’s Keystone XL pipeline, Enbridge’s Flanagan South and Seaway Piplelines, or Devon’s extraction of diluted bitumen on the sovereign Beaver Lake Cree Nation’s territory. Cross Timbers Earth First! is a radical environmental justice group committed  to putting an end to any form of industrial extraction in the Cross Timbers bioregion, with a particular distaste for the widespread fracking that is poisoning communities and watersheds.

One of two activists facing Federal "Terrorism Hoax," two counts of trespass, and one count of disorderly conduct.

One of two activists facing  “Terrorism Hoax,” State Felonies. Also facing a disorderly conduct charge.

UPDATE 2:00pm: Folks arrested for allegedly dropping the banners banner drop are facing charges of federal “terrorism hoax,” two counts of trespass, and one count of disorderly conduct–the “terrorism hoax” referring to glitter that fell from the banner. The two folks who locked down are facing two counts of trespass each.
Update 11:45: Six folks have been released from police custody. Four still in custody, with folks who locked down somewhere upstairs in the Devon Tower.
UPDATE 11:07: Both folks who locked down have been extracted, placed into wheelchairs, and wheeled into elevators to go “upstairs” in the Devon Tower. We have no clue why.
UPDATE 10:50: One person has been extracted from the lockdown, under arrest.

UPDATE 10:40: 8 Folks on site have been arrested and put in cop cars, whole street blocked off with cop cars, firetrucks, and a HazMat vehicle