UPDATE: 10:00 AM – Ramsey has been released! Here’s a brief statement from him this morning:
After chaining myself to a speaker during a TransCanada engineer’s presentation on pipeline safety compliance at the PipeTech oil and gas pipeline conference yesterday morning, I was charged with Disrupting a Meeting or Procession. My bail was set at $500 and I was retrieved from Montgomery County Jail very early this morning by my friends in Tar Sands Blockade!
After I spent a good long time chatting it up with my arresting officer about why I do what I do and how SLAPPing me will never shut me up, I guess he passed along the good word, cause I had a more-than-hour long meeting with his department’s detectives. They assured me that they were just puzzled and not fishing for new charges – they just wanted to know what was up. Apparently, TransCanada hadn’t visited their department to warn them against so-called “eco-terrorists” like me, so they were engaged, candid and actually very concerned. By the end of it, we shook hands and they thanked me for what I was doing.
Next thing you know, the deputy who transferred me from a satellite holding facility to the Montgomery County Jail dived right into a chat about censorship, corruption and the definition of “justice” – it takes all kinds, right?
While in jail, I met far too many men whose lives were on hold for non-violent drug charges, and while I’m sharing, I’ll just say that ending the drug war is another struggle we should not shy away from and which deserves just as robust and creative a resistance as we at Tar Sands Blockade call for against tar sands exploitation.
Thanks for all the kind words and for all y’all who have shared my video. You’re helping put TransCanada on point for trying to pass off a toxic pipeline full of holes in my friends’ backyards and the poisoning of my First Nation brothers and sisters downstream from the Athabascan tar sands exploitation mines.
A MASSIVE THANK YOU to everyone who oh-so-generously donated to help get me out of jail! Your donations will always go toward making sure we in Blockadia can continue our work, filling in the gaps where risk-wary NGOs don’t dare tread!
Ah, it feels good to be out of jail, but the struggle continues, and my heart goes out to those without the support network I’m blessed to have. I look forward to sharing many more moments of joyous resistance to tar sands exploitation with all y’all out there, but I mostly look forward to hearing about YOUR creative resistance to tar sands exploitation and the Keystone XL toxic tar sands pipeline in YOUR community!
Even if the mainstream media is going to marginalize or stereotype the people who have consistently been poisoned at every turn by the petrochemical industry, we are creating a new narrative for our time where we make space for oppressed folks to share their stories. Its focus is on justice, well-being, and celebratory resistance, and it, like all the restless hearts and spirits of our world, will be Idle No More.
UPDATE- 9:30 PM: Ramsey, arrested around 11 AM today for chaining himself inside a tar sands, oil and gas pipeline conference and speaking out against the industry’s ongoing genocide of indigenous communities in Alberta, has been in police custody without food for over ten hours.
Show your support with a generous donation to his legal fund
UPDATE: 1:30 PM - Here is a first-person account from a blockader who accompanied Ramsey into the conference and documented the act on video:
“Early this morning, the PipeTech Americas Summit met at the Woodlands Marriot near Houston, Texas. Delegates from various pipeline construction corporations traveled to this venue to discuss the newest advancements in pipeline technology, how to facilitate a cozy relationship with regulatory agencies (a lesson given by the Army Corps of Engineers), and to give a collective pat on the back to this thriving ecocidal industry. Among the first scheduled speakers was Tom Hamilton, Manager of Quality and Compliance for TransCanada’s Keystone XL Pipeline, set to deliver a case study of the safety measures of the Gulf Coast Project, the name given to the southern segment currently under construction. Tar Sands Blockader Ramsey Sprague and I dressed to match the crowd and joined the audience.
Ten minutes into Hamilton’s time at the podium, Ramsey stood up and chained himself to the sound equipment positioned next to the projection screen, quickly delving into an impassioned speech on the irony of TransCanada lecturing others on safety and compliance. The audience sat silent, cameras aimed at this impromptu act, as security officials attempted to address the situation without having to clear the room. As Ramsey spoke against TransCanada’s horrific safety record, as well as its treatment of indigenous communities and others whose land and lives are being adversely affected by tar sands extraction, authorities escorted him out of the assembly and into police custody. After being detained by three Montgomery County sheriffs for documenting the act (and subsequent arrest), I was given a trespass warning and told to leave the property immediately.”
TAKE ACTION: Stand up to toxic corporate power with an action in your own community!
Contact the Conference Organizer To Say You Support Ramsey and Don’t Want
Geoff Micks, Event Director, 416-214-2091 [email protected]
UPDATE: 12:00 PM – Ramsey has been arrested. Demonstrate your support and contribute to his bail here.
PHOTO: Ramsey Sprague being detained by police. Ramsey took the opportunity to educate the officers on the dangers of tar sand exploitation.
UPDATE: 11:00 AM – 3 detained blockaders are now being released and escorted away
UPDATE: 10:30 AM - 3 blockaders who are supporting Ramsey have been detained
BREAKING – 9:30 AM: Activist interrupts pipeline conference, releases photos of flawed welds on Keystone XL pipeline.
Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel, The Woodlands, TX – 9 AM this morning, TransCanada executive Tom Hamilton’s presentation of a Keystone XL case study at the Pipe Tech Americas 2013 conference was interrupted when a blockader chained himself to audio equipment and delivered a speech to the nearly 300 attendees. Hamilton, the Manager of Quality and Compliance for the Keystone Pipeline, was supposed to give a forty-minute talk about safety and regulations related to the southern portion of the KXL pipeline. Instead, Tar Sands Blockade organizer Ramsey Sprague gave an impassioned rebuttal highlighting TransCanada’s poor safety record.
For several minutes before security disassembled the audio equipment and took him away, Sprague described shoddy welding practices and dangerous corner-cutting throughout TransCanada’s operations as exposed by whistleblowers like Evan Vokes, a metallurgic engineer who came forward in May 2012, leading to an investigation by Canada’s National Energy Board. Sprague reminded attendees that TransCanada’s first Keystone pipeline has already leaked over 30 times and that other industry leaders such as Enbridge are similarly negligent, with over 800 spills since 1999. He derided TransCanada for routing the KXL pipeline through ecologically sensitive areas and through communities like the one in Douglass, TX, where construction crews are actively laying pipe within sight of the Douglass public school.
“TransCanada’s safety record is beyond deplorable,” said Ramsey Sprague, a lifelong Texan with roots in Gulf Coast communities directly impacted by industrial pollution and waste. “TransCanada’s wanton disregard for the health of our communities is clear from it’s reckless construction practices. I’m taking action today to set the record straight: TransCanada cannot be trusted. There is now clear evidence that Keystone XL is not safe, and I will not stand aside while a multinational corporation poisons Texas communities.”
Sprague also described how activists who blockaded themselves inside the actual KXL pipe on December 3rd could see daylight through holes in welds connecting segments of pipe – and how Tar Sands Blockade has the pictures to prove it. That mile-long section of the pipe was laid in the ground on the same day; no additional welding or inspection occurred after the photos were taken.