Intro to NVDA Workshop in OKC

Would you like to learn more about Nonviolent Direct Action? Are you part of an organization or group that might benefit from NVDA strategies? Are you simply hoping to learn more about the history of NVDA in Oklahoma? On Saturday, May 10th, the Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance and friends will be hosting an Introduction to Nonviolent Direct Action day-long workshop.

What: Intro to Nonviolent Direct Action Workshop

When: Saturday, May 10th from 10am-6pm

Where: Oklahoma City, OK

What can you expect from this event?

Free Lunch and childcare! And… At the NVDA workshop experienced trainers will guide people in learning how to implement Nonviolent Direct Action strategies. You will have the opportunity to hear from and meet people who have been involved in NVDA demonstrations. If you have been curious about these tactics but are intimidated, unsure about their usefulness, or simply have questions, this is a great opportunity to learn about Nonviolent Direct Action from experienced organizers. More information and a schedule of the days events will be posted soon.

Cost? Donations will be accepted the day of; however, no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Registration is required to attend. Your registration is not complete until you receive an e-mail or phone confirmation.

If you would like to attend, fill out the following registration form:

To learn more about the event, volunteer, or donate, e-mail: gptsresistance@riseup.net or call: (405) 283-6140.

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.

###

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

Drawing the Line: Speech from GPTSR

fayetteville

[[Below is the transcript of part of a speech given by a member of the Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance collective at a "Draw The Line" event in Fayetteville, "Arkansas".  The intent of the speech was to comment on and criticize climate exceptionalism and how the mainstream Anti-KXL movement's exclusive emphasis on how the [northern segment] of the KXL being “game over for the planet” is not only deluded but damaging to attempts to develop real networks of resistance and solidarity. For an excellent critique of how large environmental organizations perpetuate white supremacy/environmental racism in their organizing, check out our friends article, “Are Mainstream Environmental Groups Keeping Racism Alive?”]]

Transcript:

The communities that stand to suffer the brunt of increased tar sands extraction, transportation, and refining have been largely invisible in the mainstream opposition to the KXL north. At the point of extraction, First Nations folks, including the Beaver Lake Cree Nation and Athabasca Chipewyan Nation, are under assault by the toxic extraction that takes place on and near their traditional land. Companies such as Exxon, Shell, BP, Devon Energy, Suncorp, act in collusion with the colonial government of Canada to continue assaults on their bodies, traditional way of life, and the landbase they’ve historically lived on and with.

It is incredibly important to recognize that the logic of settler-white supremacy designates nonwhite and indigenous bodies as valueless, as necessary casualties for extractive and industrial progress, is the same logic that governs the mainstream environmental movement’s omission or tokenization of their participation and experience.

In the majority latina and latino community of Manchester, the Valero refinery that stands to receive tar sands from the Gulf Coast segment of the KXL continues to poison residents with benzene, sulfur dioxide, 1,3 butadiene, and polycyclic aromatic compounds. Residents there are 50% more likely to develop leukemia than individuals just 10 miles to the south. Friends of mine that have gone down there to film and resist Valero alongside residents had nosebleeds, nausea, increased fatigue, and a noticeable shift in mental functioning and emotion. When these refineries begin to increase their refining of tar sands, the emissions from this dirty fuel will further put fenceline communities health in jeopardy.

Sadly, experiences like those of folks near the tar sands and petrochemical facilities are far from the anomalous when it comes to extraction and other industrial processes. It is easy to offer folks sympathies and prayers when they are under assault by the dominant system, to click “like” and “share,” but we become better allies in their struggle when we commit to taking the necessary steps to ensure that the tar sands project cannot expand, cannot get its product to the refinery, to points of export.

Currently, there are numerous pipelines proposed and in construction that stand to dramatically increase tar sands exploitation, transportation, and refining. Out of six pipelines slated to carry tar sands to a point of export, the Gulf Coast segment of the Keystone XL accounts for 17% of total volume. This is a call to join us in resisting other pipelines, to band together and support groups on the front lines resisting tar sands expansion. We’re incredibly inspired by ya’ll pledging to resist the Keystone XL North, and hope to support you in your resistance. We only hope that as we move forward we are able to include folks who have been fighting against toxic extraction, environmental racism, and living in sacrifice zones, as well as move forward together to build a movement capable of stopping the industry in its tracks. I’d like to end by paraphrasing a quote that is very close to me: Protest is when I say I disagree with something, Resistance is when I ensure that what I disagree with doesn’t happen. Thank you for fighting.

Also, check out some awesome sites you might not see on a 350 email-blast:

Breaking: GPTSR brings tar sand spills home for Devon Energy!

devontower2

Early this morning, activists with Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance (GPTSR) and folks from Idle No More Central Oklahoma staged a mock “oil spill” outside of the Devon Energy Center in downtown Oklahoma City to highlight Devon’s dangerous involvement in the Tar Sands Gigaproject. In addition to the mock oil spill, passionate activists held signs that symbolized the many devastating oil spills caused by the industry’s carelessness and neglect while chanting, “No Devon! No Tar Sands! No destruction of Native lands.”  Among the spills listed was Devon’s own Jackfish leak, when a malfunctioning producer well spewed  a plume of bitumen-laced, high-temperature steam into the air for nearly 36 hours on Beaver Lake Cree Nation Territory.  Activists also handed out flyers to passerby that contained a link to a newly launched page specifically for Devon, www.gptarsandsresistance.org/devon  the text of which is included below.

P1300365

devonlibrarydevontower1

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devonblackflaglogo3Devon Energy (NYSE: DVN) is one of the largest oil and gas companies on the continent, and they’re working tirelessly to poison numerous communities and fuck up countless ecologies. Disregarding proper tribal consultation and the ecological consequences of tar sands extraction, Devon plans to double their extraction of tar sands on Beaver Lake Cree Nation territory within the next decade–continuing to carve up their traditional hunting lands with evermore roads, seismic line easements, and pipelines, as each new well compounds the risk of a catastrophe like the Cold Lake spill.

Diagram of In-Situ extraction, with pretty unsoiled forest above directional drill

Diagram of In-Situ extraction, with pretty unsoiled forest above directional drill

Devon’s in-situ sites at the Jackfish and Pike projects accounted for 8% of their Q2 hydrocarbon production, while the total reserves in their leased areas for these projects amount to nearly one fifth of the accessible reserves on all of their leased lands. This highlights the impetus for their involvement in one of the riskiest and intrinsically devastating hydrocarbon plays on the continent.

Every mode of hydrocarbon extraction has its own limitations and risks. The industry shitheads that tell you different are lying to your face.  The damage done to surrounding communities, from extraction and transportation to the point of refining, is at most a calculation of public-image blowback–including fines and lawsuits–against their insatiable desire for profit and investor confidence.  The fact that 80% of recoverable hydrocarbons in the Athabasca Tar Sands can only be reached by in-situ extraction methods also serve to illustrate that it’s not out of benevolence or concern for safety that this is their chosen method, but rather a strategic decision to have a stake in long-term tar sands extraction after the bitumen recoverable by surface mining has long disappeared.

"More than 8,650 barrels of bitumen have been removed from the four sites which likely began leaking last winter. The four leaks were reported to the AER between May and June." For more info, check: http://bit.ly/19jxXyP
“More than 8,650 barrels of bitumen have been removed from the four sites which likely began leaking last winter. The four leaks were reported to the AER between May and June.” For more info, check: http://bit.ly/19jxXyP

Beaver Lake Cree Nation
On the Front Lines of Tar Sands Extraction

Among other First Nations, The Beaver Lake Cree Nation stands at the frontline of Devon’s tar sands projects: the lands they rely on for sustenance–they hunt and fish on lands they’ve lived on before settlers stepped foot on this continent –have been cut into by 13,483 miles of seismic lines, over half a thousand miles of road infrastructure, and over 2.5k miles of pipelines. [http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/05/08/federal-and-provincial-governments-lose-appeal-against-first-nation-oil-sands-lawsuit]

What the industry paints as a benevolent project promising economic growth is, in reality, slow industrial genocide. Two main herds of caribou that the Beaver Lake Cree rely on for hunting have declined in population over 70% in the past fifteen years.  [http://www.ienearth.org/what-we-do/tar-sands/] Rates of cancers related to hydrocarbon extraction have increased exponentially in communities that surround the extraction sites, as both routine and unexpected toxic releases occur.

Industry and colonial government go hand in hand–in order for this bullshit to occur, they must disregard the health and safety of countless communities and deliberately violate treaties the Canadian government has made with First Nations. The Beaver Lake Cree Nation filed a lawsuit in 2008 asserting that in approving and backing the expansion of tar sands infrastructure projects, the colonial governments of Alberta and Canada have accrued over 17,000 treaty violations. Despite the colonial governments’ attempts to have this case dismissed, the Court of Appeal of Alberta rejected this motion and is rightfully allowing the case to proceed–calling the future of tar sands extraction in Treaty 6 territories into question.

Of course, we hope there’s no future for tar sands extraction.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________

 

And is it any surprise that John Richels, Executive Director and President of Devon Energy, should also sit on TransCanada’s Board of Directors?

John Richels: President and Executive Director of Devon Energy, and Independent Director on TransCanada's Board of Directors.
John Richels: President and Executive Director of Devon Energy, and Independent Director on TransCanada’s Board of Directors.