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Tree Blockade Weathers an Intense Week (Day 8)

UPDATE: Monday, October 1, 6:00PM – Another Intense Day Draws to a Close — Despite Danger Blockaders Remain Resolute

UPDATE: 3:30PM – Situation Has De-escalated as Workers Have Finally Pulled Back

After several hours of intensity TransCanada’s workers have finally withdrawn from operating dangerously close to the tree blockade and jeopardizing peaceful protestor’s lives with their heavy machinery. Before they departed they cut around the west side of the tree blockade leaving it as a lone green, forest island amongst a long scar of scraped dirt. The situation has de-escalated for now and the only people who remain on the ground are two police officers.

UPDATE: 2:30PM – Heavy Machinery and Chainsaws Cutting 25 Feet Away From Tree Blockader 

TransCanada’s heavy machinery and chainsaws are cutting smaller trees 25 feet nearby a blockader’s tree.

UPDATE: 1:30PM – Heavy Machinery Swinging a Felled Tree “Like a Bat” at Timber Scaffolding Ropes!


Blockaders describing TransCanada’s machinery operator as “out of control.”  He’s using a felled tree in the claw arm of his clear-cutting machine to swing it “like a bat” and sever ropes attached to our 40 foot timber scaffolding with four blockaders standing on top of it. Clear-cutting machinery has cut numerous trees with ropes attached to the scaffolding and is imperiling the lives of those four blockaders clinging to the on top. Blockaders are describing how the scaffolding is shaking as the machine tears away ropes they had attached to nearby trees with blocks of wood lodged between the branches. One blockader grabbed a rope to prevent it from being cut and TransCanada’s machine ripped it right out of his hands.Please call TransCanada and OSHA immediately to stop this unconscionable endangerment of our protesters’ lives: Don Davis, Supervisor of Keystone XL Southern Leg: 903-533-0201 and Wood County Sheriff Billy Wansley’s Office: 903-763-2201

UPDATE: 12:30PM – TransCanada Clear-Cutting Outside the Designated Pipeline Easement

TransCanada is only allowed a 110 foot wide easement, or pathway, to build Keystone XL along with some additional designated work areas. The tree blockade is strategically located across the span of the Keystone XL easement to prevent the toxic pipeline from being built. Right now TransCanada workers are knowingly clear-cutting far outside of their designated easement and work areas in order to plow around the west side of the tree blockade.

UPDATE: 11:45AM – TransCanada Now Preparing to Go Around Tree Blockade to the West

Thanks to the blockaders on the ground that turned the machinery away, and your urgent calls to TransCanada headquarters and Federal safety officials, heavy machinery has moved to the West around the tree blockade. Blockaders are quickly using rope to tie other trees to the blockade to make it more safe and create a buffer between blockaders and dangerous clear-cutting machinery. TransCanada continues to demonstrate their absolute disregard for the safety of landowners and peaceful protesters. 

UPDATE: 11:15AM - EMERGENCY: WE NEED YOU TO CALL TRANSCANADA RIGHT NOW!!

TransCanada’s clear cutting machinery are cutting extremely close to our blockaders’ safety lines, which if cut could result in their fall and death. We’ve contacted Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and TransCanada HeadQuarters!

PLEASE CALL NOW and demand that TransCanada protect the lives of our protesters by turning off the heavy machinery they are currently operating within feet of our safety lines!! CALL NOW for immediate intervention to save the lives of our friends!

TransCanada’s Houston Corporate Offices: 866-585-7063
Don Davis, Supervisor of Keystone XL Southern Leg: 903-533-0201
Wood County Sheriff Billy Wansley’s Office: 903-763-2201

Location specifics: this is a TransCanada Keystone XL construction site operated by Michel’s contracting, located in Winnsboro, TX at County Road 4591 and Highway 2088. Safety lines are designed to save lives but only work if they ARE NOT SEVERED! This is unconscionable endangerment of our protesters’ lives, and we can’t just let it happen! PLEASE CALL NOW!

UPDATE: 11:00AM – Heavy Machinery Attempting to Build Timber Bridge Across Creek 20 Feet From Blockader in a Tree – She Managed to Turn Them Away

TransCanada’s heavy machinery is attempting to build a timber bridge across a creek that protects the tree blockade on the south side.  In violation of Federal safety regulations TransCanada workers are operating heavy machinery dangerously close, 20 feet away (!), from our friend in a tree. To prevent the machinery from coming any closer she climbed out on a traverse line, a cable securely attached to another nearby tree, and manage to turn it away. Other blockaders are mobilizing on the ground to stop it from advancing.

UPDATE: 10:45AM – Another Clear-Cutting Machine Now Approaching From the North

UPDATE: 10:30AM – Clear-Cutting Machine Quickly Approaching Tree Blockade From the South

A team of blockaders on the ground openly approaches it within 50 feet to prevent it from advancing toward our friends in the tree blockade. 
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Our nine brave blockaders have been holding strong since they climbed 80 foot tall trees a week ago and vowed to not come down for as long as it takes to stop the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. It’s been an intense week in which blockaders have weathered conditions ranging from rainy days, to torture tactics, and TransCanada’s direct endangerment of their safety.

Here’s an attempt to recap the events from the last week:

Day 1: Tree Blockade Launch! – “You Shall Not Pass”

Eight people climbed 80 feet into trees in the path of Keystone XL construction and pledged not to come down until the pipeline is stopped for good. Their actions were met with an outpouring of support from thousands across the country as their image was shared over ten thousands times on facebook and almost 800 times on twitter.

“Today I climbed a tree in the path of Keystone XL to demand TransCanada stop construction of this dirty and dangerous pipeline. This pipeline is a disaster for everyone it touches, from the cancer tar sands extraction is causing indigenous communities, to the water poisoned by inevitable tar sands spills, to the landowners whose land has been seized, and to everyone that will be affected by climate change,” said Mary Washington, one of the Tar Sands Blockade members sitting in a tree.

View photos from the day along with some terrifying video of a tree clear-cutting machine advancing toward the tree blockade.

Day 2: Benjamin and Shannon Tortured for Peaceful Protest Trying to Protect Tree Blockade

As TransCanada’s heavy machinery quickly advanced toward the tree blockade, Benjamin and Shannon took direct action to prevent the clear-cutting machines from reaching their friends in the trees. In a form of peaceful protest they locked themselves to Keystone XL construction machinery to prevent it from advancing. They were able to delay construction for most of day before the Wood County Sheriff’s Department subjected them to torture tactics at the active encouragement of TransCanada senior supervisors. Benjamin and Shannon endured sustained chokeholds, violent arm-twisting, pepper spray, and multiple uses of Tasers, all while they were in handcuffs, before being hauled off to jail. Make a donation to their legal fund here.

After they were removed, the clear-cutting machine again began slicing its way toward the tree blockade until it was confronted by a team of blockaders. See day 4 below. Photos of the day can be found here.

Day 3: Tree-Cutting Machines Within 20 feet of Tree Blockade

Blockaders were undeterred by TransCanada’s role in the torture of their fellow blockaders and defiantly persevered to continue their blockade.

Despite the demands of peaceful blockaders 20 feet away on timber scaffolding, TransCanada workers refused to turn off their machines and leave. Federal safety regulations require that heavy machinery be turned off when in proximity to unauthorized personnel. TransCanada continues to flaunt its disregard for the safety of our homes and families by plowing ahead with its dangerous pipeline.

“I climbed this tree three days ago in the path of Keystone XL to demonstrate the dangers of this toxic pipeline and to let TransCanada know that we will continue to non-violently resist their brutal tactics,” said Justin Jacobs, an aerial blockader. “I’m here to defend this land from a multinational corporation who has blatant disregard for the safety of peaceful people, families, and our planet.“ Click here for photos of Justin and his friends in the trees.

Day 4: Video: TransCanada Worker Attempts to Drop Tree on Peaceful Blockader

On Thursday, we learned that a TransCanada worker attempted to drop a felled tree on top of a peaceful blockader. Watch the video here and see if you have a different interpretation from what TransCanada spokesperson told the Huffington Post. See for yourself how the blockaders are holding up, or make a donation to help keep them well fed and supplied.

Day 5: Heavy Machinery and Police Cut Close to Tree Blockade

TransCanada’s heavy machinery was operating a mere 60 feet from timber scaffolding as nine brave blockaders remained in their tree blockade for the fifth straight day. The excavator machines are so close that they are kicking up plumes of dust through the scaffolding.

Day 6: Clear-Cutting Begins on South Side of Tree Blockade – Turned Away by Blockaders

The clear-cutting machine repeatedly returned to thrash its way through the forest toward the tree blockade. To defend the safety of their nine friends that have been living in 80 foot trees for the last six days, blockaders on the ground repeatedly approached the heavy machinery and stood in its way, preventing it from advancing further toward the tree blockade. Brave blockaders stopped the machine about five times. Rain persisted throughout the day. Donate here to help keep our friends in the woods dry.

Day 7: From the Trees

Powerful first-hand account from a tree blockader:

“I call myself Viridi, and I am writing this while 80 feet from the ground.

Despite the few telecommunications that we can transmit and receive on solar energy, our tree blockade feels like a separate, distant place. I am writing this because I want you to hear our voices, and to feel inspired by our unfolding stories in this struggle against tar sands exploitation. Ultimately, I would love to see you join us somewhere on one of our many battlegrounds against the corporate giant, TransCanada.”

I am here writing from this place because I can’t go on seeing these homes and places destroyed for profit, but also because I can’t live and sleep knowing that it’s happening without resistance. I am writing because I think you care about these stories, and because I want you to. I not only want you to listen, but to send us your love, good intentions, and everything within your power and privilege. I want you to feel the swelling joy and deep despair of defending living lands and homes from annihilation and private profiteering. This means I also want to meet you here for our upcoming Direct Action Training Camp October 12th-14th. I want you to join our collective struggle against tar sands exploitation. Our movement needs you in order for these spaces of resistance to grow as we fight for a more habitable world and more just communities.”

Blockaders dangle their feet over the 40 foot timber scaffolding they’ve defended for the last week to catch a glimpse of warm sunlight to dry their toes on a rainy day.

Keystone XL’s scar cuts directly up to our doorstep.  The 110 foot wide clear cut is slated to plow through 1,700 miles of America’s heartland. This is where it ends. We’re taking a stand to defend our homes from this dirty, dangerous pipeline.

Despite 36 hours of constant rain this last weekend blockaders hunkered down and remained determined stay in the trees until they stop Keystone XL.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.tarsandsblockade.org/tree-sit-day8/