Category Archives: Benicia-Martinez rail bridge

News from our friend Ethan Buckner, arrested for bold action on Benicia-Martinez Bridge

Repost from Facebook ethan.buckner
[Editor:  See also the news account: Four arrested after midair oil-train protest at Benicia Bridge.  – RS]


By Ethan Buckner, July 7 at 2:43pm

Finally released and safe at home after 24 hours in custody (20 without food or water) at the Contra Costa Jail.

Yesterday morning, the courageous Emily Heffling and I repelled off the George Miller Bridge, 150 ft over the beautiful Carquinez Strait. The two of us, along with Charlie and Jay, were arrested attempting to hang a 2400 sq-foot banner to amplify the struggle of communities across North America fighting toxic, dangerous, and climate-killing oil trains.

Our banner hang attempt fell on the two year anniversary of the oil train explosion that killed 47 people and incinerated the downtown of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, a date that both marks unfathomable tragedy and the emergence of resistance.  This week, 80+ communities are organizing marches, rallies, forums, blockades, and other creative protests for the second Stop Oil Trains Week of Action.

Right behind us as we repelled down was a rail bridge along a route big oil companies want to use to import millions of gallons of toxic, explosive crude oil each day into the Bay Area and beyond, mostly through communities of color already overburdened by toxic pollution. As part of the week of action, we’ll take to the streets in Richmond this Saturday to demand an end to oil by rail and the emergence of a just, clean, regenerative energy economy.

Though I am absolutely disappointed that we weren’t able to fully deploy the banner, I am grateful for and recurringly inspired by the love, energy, and strength of our movement. Many thanks to all who contributed to this effort, who continue to fight for our health, safety, and climate every day, and to everyone who rallied all night last night and this morning to help the four of us get out of jail.

There is so much to learn from yesterday’s events, and much yet to come, but the bottom line is that I am riding the crest of the wave of our movement, and we will continue to grow and fight and win.

Onward!

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    Four arrested after midair oil-train protest at Benicia Bridge

    Repost from SFGate.com
    [Editor:  Finally the names of those arrested: Janine Carmona, Charles Furman, Emily Heffling, and our friend Ethan Buckner.  See also Ethan Buckner’s personal account.  – RS]

    4 arrested after midair oil-train protest at Benicia Bridge

    By Jenna Lyons, July 6, 2015, 6:55 pm
    Emily Heffling, of Oakland, was arrested during a protest at the Benicia-Martinez railroad bridge on July 6, 2015.
    Emily Heffling, of Oakland, was arrested during a protest at the Benicia-Martinez railroad bridge on July 6, 2015.

    Police arrested four Bay Area activists Monday morning after they suspended themselves from the Benicia-Martinez railroad bridge to hang a banner protesting oil trains, the California Highway Patrol said.

    Emily Heffling, of Oakland, was arrested during a protest at the Benicia-Martinez railroad bridge on July 6, 2015. Photo: Courtesy Of Jasmin Vargas
    Emily Heffling, of Oakland, was arrested during a protest at the Benicia-Martinez railroad bridge on July 6, 2015. Photo: Courtesy Of Jasmin Vargas

    About 7:50 a.m., some of the activists suspended themselves from the bridge with cords as they tried to display a banner that read, “Stop Oil Trains Now: Are You in the Blast-Zone.org.”

    Jasmin Vargas, associate director of the nonprofit Communities for a Better Environment, said the activists were protesting in affiliation with her organization as well as ForestEthics and APEN, all environmental groups fighting the oil industry.

    “We’re calling out and asking for an end to oil trains in our communities,” she said. “We don’t deserve to live in a blast zone.”

    Vargas said the activists chose the Benicia bridge because it crosses the Carquinez Strait near several oil refineries and is a potential site for derailments and explosions as oil is transported on the tracks.

    Officers arrested Oakland residents Janine Carmona, 29, and Charles Furman, 27, on suspicion of maintaining public nuisance and conspiracy to commit a crime.

    Emily Heffling, 25, of Oakland and Ethan Buckner, 24, of Berkeley were arrested on suspicion of the same crimes as well as climbing or trespassing on a bridge and resisting or obstructing a peace officer.

     

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      Protesters against oil trains detained at Benicia-Martinez rail bridge

      Repost from KRON4 TV, San Francisco CA
      [Editor:  Also, see the organizations’ Press Release and a later report with names of those arrested.  – RS]

      Protesters against oil trains detained at Benicia-Martinez rail bridge

      By Sharon Song, July 6, 2015, 1:51 pm Updated: July 6, 2015, 1:55 pm
      oil train protest arrest
      Oil train protest arrest, Benicia-Martinez Rail Bridge, Benicia, California, Monday, July 6, 2015. Photo KRON4.

      BENICIA (KRON) — Activists protesting the threat of crude oil transporting trains were detained Monday morning as they attempted to hang a 60-foot banner in front of the Benicia-Martinez railroad bridge.

      The banner read “Stop Oil Trains Now: Are You in the Blast-Zone.org.”

      Protester detained as she attempted to hang banner in front of the Benicia-Martinez rail bridge. Photo KRON4

      Activists say the move was part of a plan to kick off a week of action with some 80 scheduled events in opposition to oil trains across the US and Canada.

      The Benicia-Martinez Rail Drawbridge crosses the Carquinez Strait near refineries operated by Valero, Tesoro, Shell, and Chevron. Protesters say the span has been identified as a route used on the Blast-Zone.org map as the route used by oil trains moving through the Bay Area.

      Organizers say this week’s protests coincide with the second anniversary of the fatal oil train rail disaster in Lac Megantic, Quebec that killed 47 people. Here in the Bay Area, the week of action will culminate with a demonstration and march in Richmond on Saturday, demonstrators tell KRON 4 news.

      Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), and ForestEthics are all a part of the protest efforts. The groups say the concerns are over the threat of fatal oil train accidents, increased air pollution near railways and refineries, and carbon pollution from the high-carbon crude oil carried by oil trains.

      “We are facing a triple threat. Oil trains dangerously roll though to burn filthy crude in refineries from Richmond to LA and Wilmington, all contributing to toxic pollution and global climate catastrophe,” says Jasmin Vargas, CBE, associate director.

      Organizers say Saturday’s rally in Richmond is designed as a community event aimed at highlighting the stories of the neighborhoods and residents at risk because of crude oil transporting trains. The demonstration is set for 11 a.m. at Atchison Village Park at Collins Street and West Bissell Avenue.

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        Activists Detained Hanging “Stop Oil Trains Now” Banner to Kick off Week of Action

        Press Release from Communities for a Better Environment and ForestEthics
        [Editor:  UPDATE… see later news coverage and photos on KRON4 TV News and a later report with names of those arrested.  – RS]

        Activists Detained Hanging “Stop Oil Trains Now” Banner to Kick off Week of Action

        Contact:

        Megan Zapanta, APEN, megan@apen4ej.org, 619-322-1696
        Jasmin Vargas, CBE, jasmin.vargas@cbecal.org, 323-807-3234
        Eddie Scher, ForestEthics, eddie@forestethics.org, 415-815-7027

        For Immediate Release: Monday, July 6, 2015. 7:00AM
        [Richmond, CA] Activists protesting the threat of oil trains were detained this morning as they attempted to hang a 60-foot banner in front of the Benicia-Martinez railroad bridge. The banner reads “Stop Oil Trains Now: Are You in the Blast-Zone.org.” The railroad bridge, which runs between the RT680 bridges, crosses the Carquinez Strait near refineries operated by Valero, Tesoro, Shell and Chevron. The Benicia-Martinez bridge is identified by the rail industry and on the blast-zone.org map as the route for oil trains moving through the Bay Area.

        This action coincides with the second anniversary of the fatal oil train fire in Lac Megantic, Quebec, and the Stop Oil Trains week of action with more than 80 planned events opposing oil trains across the US and Canada. Climbers, who are risking arrest to drop the banner, are representing three groups: Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Communities for a Better Environment, and ForestEthics. Baykeeper also provided support for the action.

        The groups cite the threat of fatal accidents, increased air pollution near railways and refineries, and carbon pollution from the high-carbon crude oil carried by oil trains. Oil trains have derailed and exploded five times in 2015, including high-profile events in West Virginia, Illinois, North Dakota and Canada.

        “Richmond has been my home my entire life. My family, friends, and neighbors are here, and we refuse to live in fear of these bomb trains blowing up our neighborhoods, and we’re tired of living in the shadow of the Chevron Refinery and the oil industry,” said Laiseng Saechao, APEN Member and Summer of Our Power Fellow. “That’s why I’m speaking up, not just to revoke Kinder Morgan’s permit to bring oil trains into Richmond, but also to build community-led alternatives to dirty oil through the Summer of Our Power Campaign.”

        “We are facing a triple threat. Oil trains dangerously roll though to burn filthy crude in refineries from Richmond to LA and Wilmington, all contributing to toxic pollution and global climate catastrophe,” says Jasmin Vargas, CBE, associate director. “Communities for a Better Environment is working in communities challenging the worst cases of environmental racism in CA.”

        “I am risking arrest today because crude oil trains are too dangerous for the rails,” says Ethan Buckner, ForestEthics, California campaigner. “We don’t need this dirty crude oil and we can’t wait for the next oil train catastrophe to act. Our railways will play a huge part in our new, just clean energy economy, but oil trains have no part in that future.”

        On June 30 ForestEthics and CBE released the report: Crude Injustice on the Rails: Race and the Disparate Risk from Oil Trains in California. The report maps the threat to oil trains to environmental justice communities in California, including Oakland and Richmond.

        ##
        APEN advances environmental justice campaigns and policy with the leadership of low-income Asian Pacific American families in Richmond, Oakland, and across California. www.apen4ej.org

        CBE works to build people’s power in California’s communities of color and low-income communities to achieve environmental health and justice by preventing and reducing pollution and building green, healthy and sustainable communities and environments. www.cbecal.org

        ForestEthics demands environmental responsibility from government and the biggest companies in the world. Visit Blast-Zone.org to see if you are one of the 25 million Americans who live in the dangerous one-mile oil train evacuation zone. www.ForestEthics.org

         

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