Activist Locks Himself to the Ground to Stop Keystone XL Pipeline Construction

Tar Sands Blockade/CC BY 2.0

The activist blockade of preliminary construction work in Texas for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline continues into its second week.

In the latest action in Winnsboro, Texas, Alejandro de la Torre locked himself into a buried concrete capsule placed in the middle of the construction path on a family farm.

De la Torre, quoted by protest organizers Tar Sands Blockade:

I'm willing to risk arrest because I have a certain amount of personal privilege that allows me to participate. I don’t live near a Gulf refinery, or on land that’s at risk from a devastating tar sands spill, so I’m able to play a small part in an action that will really help people’s lives. I’m here to stand up for people on the front lines because they’re being trampled to make way for corporate profits. I’m sick of seeing these devastating affects on a personal and community level and on a grand global scale in which corporations and their profits call all the shots.

Based on the Tar Sands Blockade timeline of events, De la Torre was locked in for till mid-afternoon yesterday, until police arrested him. He was later released on $10,000 bail.

In previous incidents, at another protest site in Winnsboro, local police and TransCanada employees appeared to be cooperating together, with confined activists being removed with tasers, pepper spray and chokeholds—to the degree that Tar Sands Blockade accused the police of using "torture tactics."

Laura Borealis, Tar Sands Blockade/CC BY 2.0

Police Block Journalists' Views of Removal, Confiscate Camera
This time there seem to be additional irregularities: In clearing De la Torre from his self-imposed restraints, police erected screens around the area, obscuring what they were doing from onlookers—which included other activists, as well as at least one news crew. Perhaps bad form in general, but after what happened last time, especially bad form, if not actually crossing any line.

Furthermore, police confiscated a camera from one of the activists who was attempting to document the situation. While the action took place on private property and property owners can prohibit photography on their land, in no instance is it legally permissible for either police or individuals to confiscate cameras, memory cards or film, or make you delete photos already taken. Tar Sands Blockade characterizes the incident as the police stealing their camera, and if this is as conveyed by Tar Sands Action, that is exactly what it amounts to.

Tags: Activism | Tar Sands