Meet the activists who shut down the largest oil export channel in the U.S.

by Valentina Stackl

September 20, 2019

On September 12th, activists blocked the largest fossil fuel shipping channel in the country (located near Houston, TX) for 18 hours ahead of the Democratic debate to resist Trump, the oil industry, and imagine a world beyond oil.

The activists are now being charged under Texas’s new critical infrastructure law — an unconstitutional, anti-protest law pushed forward by oil companies like Charles Koch (Koch Industries), Marathon Petroleum,  ExxonMobil, and Chevron.

These kinds of laws disproportionately affect Black, Brown, Indigenous, trans, and queer folks, and other folks who are fighting for their lives as they try to stay above water in this climate crisis.

Meet some of the activists who shut down the largest oil export channel in the U.S.

When unjust laws like this are created to systematically deprive people of their rights, building mass movements and taking direct action are the only way to call out injustice loud enough for all to hear and demand change.

Criminalizing our right to rise up and take action is an intentional attack on our freedom, an attack coordinated by the billionaire oil executives, Charles Koch, and corrupt politicians to ensure they can continue raking in profits no matter the cost. The critical infrastructure law is a bullying tactic that serves the interests of corporations.

But, we’re not going to let some of the richest people on the planet continue to hold our democracy and economy hostage for their billion-dollar payouts.

We’re preparing a vigorous defense against these charges.

It’s also important to note here that, while in jail, there was abuse. Black and trans activists experienced and observed multiple instances of physical and verbal abuse by the detention officers while they were in custody, as well as no access to life-sustaining medications. Racist and transphobic abuse of anyone, in custody or otherwise, is unacceptable. We’ll be following up with Harris County officials to seek accountability for the dehumanizing treatment endured by these peaceful activists, but we also know this type of behavior is tragically routine in detention centers around the country. None of it is acceptable.

Climbers form a blockade on the Fred Hartman Bridge in Baytown, Texas shutting down the largest fossil fuel thoroughfare in the United States ahead of the third Democratic primary debate in nearby Houston.

State violence is not a coincidence, a one-time thing, or the fault of one “bad apple” officer. It’s a pattern.

It’s part of the same system that alienates and dehumanizes Indigenous, migrant, disabled, low-income, and other marginalized communities. It’s also a part of the same system that allows big polluters and billionaire oil executives to corrupt and co-opt politicians, lie about the impacts of their operations, and concentrate the impacts of this extractive economy to neighborhoods that are out of sight and out of mind for many. This too is part of Greenpeace’s mission. We can’t have a green and peaceful world without justice — and we’ll continue to fight until we do.

These activists used their power and the biggest megaphone they had to remind us all that communities closest to oil facilities like the one in Houston are typically Black, Brown, and low-income, and that together we can make another world beyond oil’s tyranny possible.

We’re not afraid to tell bullies like Trump and billionaire oil executives that their time is up, and we won’t stop until we win a future beyond oil.

Watch to hear directly from the activists and Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (t.e.j.a.s.) who are working with communities on the ground.


Valentina Stackl

By Valentina Stackl

Valentina Stackl is a multi-lingual and multi-cultural communications specialist and storyteller. As Senior Communications Officer, Valentina works on Democracy (including criminalization of protest) and Climate for media, storytelling, and other communications projects.

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