On Monday, July 21, about 80 climate justice land defenders peacefully expressed their First Amendment right to free speech, by staging a massive direct action at the site of U.S. Oil Sands’ tar sands strip mine at PR Springs in the Book Cliffs, Utah. The protest that blocked mining facilities construction culminated a week-long direct action training camp held within two miles of the mine. Participants of Climate Justice Summer Camp traveled from numerous organizations, states, and sovereign tribal nations to learn direct action skills and build networks. These inspiring heroes left the comfort of their homes, the company of their families, and the security of their jobs to fight for the future of this beautiful, historical area.
Early in the morning, activists and supporters of Canyon Country Rising Tide, Peaceful Uprising, and Utah Tar Sands Resistance locked themselves to equipment, and a fenced storage cage around it, used to clear-cut and grade an area designated for the tar sands mining company’s processing plant. Other protesters formed a physical blockade with their bodies, to halt construction work and to protect their locked-down comrades. They hung and displayed banners off the cage that read: “You Are Trespassing on Ute Land” and “Respect Existence or Expect Resistance.”
Various law enforcement agencies arrived with dogs and arrested 13 people for locking to the equipment and cage, and six additional folks for sitting in the road to prevent the removal of those arrested and transported in two police vans to the Uintah County Jail in Vernal, Utah. Two of the arrested protesters incurred injuries not disclosed by county sheriffs, who took one to a nearby hospital, while the other received medical treatment at the jail. Among a total of 21 persons held in custody overnight and most of Tuesday, police arrested legal observers, independent media workers, and jail support volunteers, as well as several indigenous and trans individuals, whose safety in jail raised deep concerns.
Another two people sacrificed arrest when they arrived at the Uintah Country Jail to provide support for the land defenders. An estimated ten armed deputies with police dogs stood outside the jail wearing bullet-proof vests and told people coming to the jail that they were there to deter them. All 21 arrested have been bailed out and released from the Uinta County Jail, including an Unedited Media representative and Cindy Spoon of Tar Sands Blockade. But several are facing felonies and urgently need financial support for legal processes.
Please donate to the legal support fund for all of our brave network friends and allies, who put their hearts and bodies on the line to defend the eastern Utah plateau from the first tar sands mine in the United States. Utah Tar Sands Resistance and Rising Tide North America are accepting donations through The Action Network first link below. Follow updates on Twitter at #NOTARSANDS and @tarsandsRESIST and @Peace_UP_, and widely share this fundraising request.
Support Utah Land Defenders! (July 21, 2014 Utah Tar Sands Resistance)
Blockade, Lockdown Halts Utah Tar Sands Mine (July 21, 2014 Earth First! Newswire from a Utah Tar Sands Resistance media release)
Urgent Help Needed: Tar Sands Shutdown Ends in Police Brutality, Injuries (July 21, 2014 Earth First! Newswire from Utah Tar Sands Resistance posts)
Tar Sands Shutdown: Support Still Needed for Arrestees as Reports of Police Brutality Surface (July 22, 2014 Earth First! Newswire from Utah Tar Sands Resistance posts, with Democracy Now! coverage at 3:41)
Uintah Deputies Arrest Anti-Tar Sands Activists (July 21, 2014 Salt Lake Tribune front page)
“Twenty-one activists were arrested Monday during a ‘blockade’ of a tar sands company’s construction equipment in eastern Utah, according to anti-tar sands groups who accused Uintah County sheriff’s deputies of ‘brutality.’”
21 Arrested at Tar Sands Site (July 22, 2014 Moab Sun News)
“The protests will continue and, if anything, we feel galvanized in our mission to stop tar sands mining in Utah.”