By Kevin Gosztola, The Dissenter
In an act of nonviolent direct action, a Gulf Coast mother Cherri Foytlin was arrested after chaining herself to a gate to the multinational energy corporation TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipe yard. She was brought before a judge hours after and charged with a Class A Misdemeanor for “criminal trespass of a habitation, shelter, superfund, or infrastructure.” Her arrest brought the number of arrests during Tar Sands Blockade actions in Texas to thirty-two.
Foytlin’s action delayed at least six trucks from moving pipe. Spokesperson for the Blockade, Ron Seifert, told Firedoglake there are “thousands and thousands of sections of pipe that need to be put in the ground.” They are “between seventy and eighty feet long.” [In total, the international pipeline project is expected to be nineteen-hundred miles long when or if it is completed.]
There are pipe storage areas in Texas and Oklahoma, where many sections of pipe are being stockpiled. Foytlin went to the gateway and put her body in the way to stop these pipes from moving because she believes the project should not be built.
A half dozen were there to bear witness and ensure torture tactics were not used on Foytlin when arrested (as they have been used previously).
Tar Sands Blockade had their own people taking photos and recording video. There was a small group of local press there to cover.
Seifert said what Foytlin was charged with is a “trumped up” charge. Authorities want to say she was on a “critical infrastructure site.” What she was on is a “privately leased storage facility for a foreign corporation.” Is that really or should that be considered “critical infrastructure”?
Before her arrest, the Tar Sands Blockade put up a post that included some details on Foytlin. She is from southern Louisiana. After the BP Gulf oil disaster occurred, in Spring 2011, she “walked 1,243 miles from New Orleans to Washington, DC, as a call for action to stop the BP Drilling Disaster.” She has continued to speak out for the health of communities impacted by the disaster.
She considers the pipeline to be a “project of death.” Its development will “disproportionately affect indigenous frontline communities” and also “bring death and disease to all in its path.”
Foytlin’s arrest occurred forty-five minutes away from the tree blockade, which has mostly been the focal point for action.
Seifert reported the area remains a police state, which it has been.
“There’s no other way to describe it,” said Seifert. Surveillance goes on all twenty-four hours of the day. There are floodlights setup at night. There’s noise pollution. Property owners are not allowed to move around on their property.
“If an owner’s land is being bisected by the pipeline,” they are “cut off” from that portion of their property. Security guards have a mandate or orders from TransCanada to “arrest anyone that sets foot on the right of way period, land owners not withstanding.”
Finally, Foytlin recorded a testimonial video, where she said she was taking action to “stand in defense of Mother Earth”—to stand for her ancestors and her six children.
She boldly stated:
I do want to say to all the people that are still suffering from oil spills and man-made disasters and greedy corporations or greedy people period that we’re going to survive this. In fact, we’re going to thrive. Keep your chin up and be strong. Like every successful movement of the past, we will find justice and we will prevail.