Climate Activists Arrested After Blocking Railroad Tracks To Oil Refineries

Environmental protest in Anacortes, Wash. KIRO-TV_2

Environmental protest in Anacortes, Wash. KIRO-TV

By Red Power Media, Staff, May 16, 2016

52 Climate Activists Arrested After Railroad Tracks Shutdown

Authorities cleared the railroad tracks of protesters and arrested 52 climate activists Sunday morning in Washington state, after a two-day shutdown.

According to, climate activists were arrested in Skagit County for trespassing on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks leading to oil refineries. The activists camped out on the tracks and one was charged with resisting arrest.

“We believe strongly that the only thing that historically and consistently brought about the kind of social change of the rapid pace that we need to confront the threat of climate change is mass disobedient movements,” said Ahmed Gaya, a BreakFreePNW organizer.

Environmental protest in Anacortes, Wash. KIRO-TV

Environmental protest in Anacortes, Wash. KIRO-TV

KING-TV reports about 2,000 protesters came together near Anacortes to try to prevent oil from being transported to the state’s refineries on land and water. Of those, 52 were arrested as authorities removed their protest campsites from tracks near Mount Vernon, which led to the refineries.

“We’ve been in communication throughout the weekend with protesters to let them know that they risked arrest for trespassing on the railroad tracks,” said Skagit County Sheriff Will Reichardt. “Prior to making any arrests, we did advise protesters that they could move to designated locations near March’s Point and lawfully demonstrate.”

Dozens of protesters, described as “kayaktivists,” appeared in their boats near two Skagit County oil refineries as part of the climate change protests.

“If I get arrested for my Mother Earth, then I will do it,” protester Kayah George, a member of the Tulalip Tribe, told KIRO-TV. “It is a sacrifice I have to make.”

The Associated Press reported that activists in Albany, New York targeted crude-by-rail trains and oil barges at the Port of Albany on the Hudson River for its protests on Saturday. About 40 activists tried to line up across the river in kayaks Friday to practice blocking oil barges but were broken up by police and several U.S. Coast Guard boats.

NPR says, the protest in Washington was part of a coordinated effort called Break Free 2016, which included protests and marches in Australia, Germany, Brazil, Turkey, Indonesia and Nigeria, among other places.

The organizers say that between May 3 and May 15, tens of thousands of people participated around the world.


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