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Blockader Disrupts Valero-Sponsored Golf Tournament, Demands Accountability for Manchester

UPDATE: Sunday, 3 pm – Doug is free! Here’s what he had to say about his action after getting out of jail:

“It appears that my career as a golf ‘Standard Bearer’ has been cut short.  On the bright side, my journey with non-violent direct action is picking up speed!  I really hope that people look at what Valero is doing to the community of Manchester in Houston, TX.  What is happening to Manchester shows the Valero corporation’s utter disregard for human life in their quest for more and more money.  In addition, Valero is preparing to refine tar sands shipped in from Canada using the Keystone XL pipeline as a conduit, additionally showing their contempt for life on Earth.  I hope that this action has inspired people to act when they see injustice, and that direct action can mean many different things. So for now, I say farewell to the fairways and putting greens, and look forward to upcoming actions on the Keystone XL pipeline easement.” – Doug Fahlbusch

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Doug says goodbye to golf and hello to direct action!

UPDATE: 11:30 pm – Doug’s charge has been changed to criminal trespass and his bail set at $800.

Turns out that you can’t be arrested just for resisting arrest (who knew?). His bail has been posted, and he should be out in 4-6 hours. Thanks to everyone who contributed to his bail fund! If you’re inspired by the action Doug took today to get the word out about what Valero is doing in Manchester, you can help keep our campaign going by making a donation here.

And here’s some local news coverage about Doug’s protest.

UPDATE: 6 pm – Here’s video footage of Doug marching out on the field and demanding that Valero tell the people of Manchester what they’re emitting from their refinery

UPDATE: 5 pm – Check out these photos of Doug on the field disrupting the Valero Texas Open

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UPDATE: 4:40 pm – Doug has been charged with resisting arrest, a Class A Misdemeanor.

We just got a call from Doug and learned what his charge was. It’s ironic yet not surprising that we don’t know what he was being arrested for when he resisted, only that he resisted arrest and was arrested for that. He says he won’t see a judge for three or four hours, at which point his bail will be set. Doug told us, “Don’t worry about me sitting in jail for a while…this is for Manchester!”

UPDATE: 4 pm – Doug has been taken away by the police. Please make a donation to help get him out of jail.

It seems that Doug certainly caught the attention of people at the golf tournament. Spectators in the crowd can be heard talking about Manchester, and tournament officials are furious over having their clean image tarnished. As Doug said, “Business as usual is over;” everywhere that tar sands profiteers go, as long as they benefit from the suffering of others, they should expect to be met with continued resistance.

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A Tar Sands Blockader disrupted the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio this afternoon during the PGA golf tournament. Douglas Fahlbusch was a standard bearer for the event and used the opportunity to bring attention to Manchester, a low income, predominately Latin@ community in Houston’s toxic East End where Valero operates a refinery that consistently violates EPA and TCEQ (Texas Commission for Environmental Quality) laws and regulations.

Once the tournament reached the 18th hole, Doug changed the sign, ordinarily used to display the players’ names and scores, to read “TAR SANDS SPILL. VALERO KILLS. ANSWER MANCHESTER.” He refused to leave the green and was dragged the entire way off the premises by police.

“Business as usual is over, between the BP spill, the current Arkansas spill, and daily life in Manchester,” Fahlbusch said. “Why won’t Valero tell the Manchester people what it is they are breathing every day?”

San Antonio-based Valero is poised to refine as much as 75% of the tar sands coming from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf Coast via the Keystone XL pipeline. The southern segment of the pipeline is under construction and is expected to be operational by the end of this year. If the Keystone XL pipeline is completed, pollution on Houston’s toxic East End is projected to increase by over a third. The East End, and Manchester in particular, are already plagued by high rates of various cancers, asthma, and leukemia. A recent study found that children in Manchester have a 56% higher likelihood of developing leukemia than children living ten miles away, and the air consistently tests positive for at least eight different carcinogens.

The neighborhood of Manchester lies in the middle of this map, completely surround by industry.

The neighborhood of Manchester lies in the middle of this map, completely surround by industry.

There have been many attempts to make Valero accountable for the pollution, including delivering a letter, written by the youth of Houston’s toxic East End and Manchester residents, to CEO William Klesse amid a 45-day hunger strike by Gulf Coast activists Diane Wilson and Bob Lindsey which followed an action where the pair locked their necks to industrial trucks outside the Valero refinery. Despite these efforts and brave actions there has been no response to Manchester’s demands for transparency. You can learn more about the community of Manchester by visiting their new website, Manchester: Voices from a Frontline Community.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.tarsandsblockade.org/20th-action/