Police chief says no arrests were made this time
MOSCOW – Amid a police presence of nearly 30 officers, an estimated 200 demonstrators lined both sides of Washington Street here just after midnight Thursday as an Imperial Oil/Exxon Mobil megaload slipped through the gauntlet with ease.
Police Chief David Duke reported no arrests. “We had four that were warned, but they complied.”
Last week, six demonstrators were arrested and jailed after a megaload was forced to a stop.
“Shame, shame, shame on you,” shouted those who oppose transporting Imperial Oil processing plant components to the Kearl Oil Sands project in Alberta, Canada, on U.S. Highway 95. Some components have also been transported over U.S. Highway 12 amid protests.
People supporting the oversized loads stood on the opposite side of Washington Street, between the intersections of Third and Second streets, chanting things like “We love commerce.”
Unlike last week’s protest – which involved people standing, sitting, and blocking the loads – Duke said authorities would not tolerate similar actions. “Our main presence there was for public safety and securing the crosswalk so the load could transition without interruption.”
Helen Yost, spokeswoman for Wild Idaho Rising Tide, said she and others want to “keep the pressure on” in an attempt to stop development of the Canadian oil fields. Other protesters said it’s time for America to seriously seek alternative energy sources.
“We’re doing our little part to bring sanity to America’s energy policy,” said Jo Bohna of Moscow. “I think the protests all over the nation are bringing awareness to our publicity of the wastefulness of this project.”
But people like Laurel Griffeath, 25, of Moscow, took an opposing view. “I’m out because I would much prefer that we were engaging in peaceful trade for oil with the Canadians than going to war in Middle Eastern countries for oil,” she said. “And I believe in industry. I believe in commerce, and it’s got to get there somehow. Just because people are part of a corporation doesn’t mean they don’t also pay their taxes and have every right to use the roadways.”
The load left the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley around 10 pm flanked by safety vehicles with flashing lights. Flaggers with more flashing lights and safety signs were stationed along the route to help direct traffic. Upon entering Moscow, the load slowed down but made steady progress, eventually reaching the demonstrators and passing without noticeable hesitation.
“I would say it was peaceful both with the activist supporters of the load and with those who came down to observe,” Duke said. He said 17 Moscow Police officers, two Idaho State Police supervisors, and nine Latah County deputies were on scene.
(By David Johnson, The Lewiston Tribune)