Large Protest Planned For March’s Point in May

Photo: BreakFree

SKAGIT COUNTY, WA – Skagit County Department of Emergency Management (DEM)  informed residents to be prepared for possible impact to road and water transportation in the March’s Point area during a May planned “rally against fossil fuels”   protest.

An environmental activist organization called Break Free Pacific Northwest has announced plans to “rally against fossil fuels” over a  three-day period in the March’s Point area where two refineries are located. 

According to their website, between May 13th and 15th, climate justice activists across the Pacific Northwest will gather in Anacortes, WA and in a creative demonstration,  blockade all entrances to March Point by land and water with hundreds of folks engaging in nonviolent sit-ins, blockades, and kayaktivism. The training for the event has already started. A  Schedule of the training locations, which include Seattle, Bellingham and Mount Vernon can be found by clicking here. The organization is also signing up people for civil disobedience, who will risk arrest.  The link for those sign up can be found here.

The official protest will begin at 9 am on May 13th, and run  through 9 pm on May 15th. The website says  people from across the Northwest are gathering in a mass mobilization to demand immediate action on climate, and a just transition to clean, sustainable energy.

Their reasons for the protest, according to the  Break Free website,  “World leaders say we have to stay below 1.5°C of warming to avoid radical climate destabilization. No current policies keep us anywhere near this goal, and the fossil fuel industry is turning the Northwest into a dirty energy superhighway.

Break Free Organizers have reserved over 150 campsites at the Deception Pass Campground on the South side of the bridge, starting Thursday, May 12th.

They also have set up a  message board where some local folks have offered housing to protestors who are coming to town.

Break Free organizers have also been made aware of the local sensitive Eel-grass and  Heron Breeding areas and they have set up a map and website for participants and news organizations and have asked that Organizers and Media as well as  drone operators to  stick to the plan and avoid the sensitive areas to protect the local Eco- systems.  You can view that map here.

The Organizers have also sent out an “Open Letter to Skagit County Residents” which we are posting below in its entirety.

From: Break Free Pacific Northwest Local Action Working Group

We are writing on behalf of the Break Free PNW Coalition in order to make clear our intentions and to make public statements that we have made in conversations with a variety of community members.

Made up of environmental and social justice organizations from Washington, Oregon, Montana and Idaho, the Coalition is mobilizing against the Shell and Tesoro’s Anacortes refineries on May 13, 14, and 15. We believe that the urgency of the climate crisis demands immediate action. Locally and globally, governments have failed to put in place the necessary protections and policies to ensure the survival of our communities and our ecosystems. By organizing these actions in Anacortes, we aim to create pathways to a better future. There will be ample opportunity for families and individuals to participate. We hope you will join us.

We are committed to working for a just transition to a post-fossil fuel economy. We believe a just transition must provide economic alternatives to communities dependent on fossil fuels, create new well-paying union jobs, and increase control by communities and workers over our energy systems. Some of our members joined USW members on the picket line at Tesoro during last year’s strike. We are educating our communities about the importance of fighting for family-wage jobs as we transition to a post-fossil fuel economy, protecting job security amidst declines in fossil fuel consumption, and minimizing job losses as the necessary action is taken to curtail dangerous climate disruption. We hope that this can be an opportunity to more widely educate our grassroots movement about these principles, and build support for them. We see this as one step in a long process of building a  common vision together.

We are eager to engage in productive conversation about a just transition. It seems important that the transition be addressed not just in a general way, but rather reflect the realities of the impacted communities. Although there will be many similarities from place to place, what such a transition looks like in Anacortes will be different from what it looks like in a large urban center. A statement incorporating input from the Anacortes community — including refinery workers — will be an important step. We are hopeful that we can find ways to continue the dialogue and we are committed to getting this right.

We have heard many concerns about the possibility of some of our members engaging in civil disobedience around the refineries. Our coalition is committed to safety: a major focus of our mobilization is training our members in nonviolent principles and practices in an effort to ensure that no one suffers unintentional harm. We will take care to avoid placing others in danger, including coordinating our actions to avoid placing each other in unexpected situations. We understand that the refinery is a complex and dangerous facility and we will take care in our actions not to create unsafe conditions for workers or the surrounding community. With this in mind, we will not block refinery workers from entering or exiting their job site. We are committed to sharing these concerns with everyone who attends a training, and also, more broadly, through our coalition. And we will do our best to keep clear lines of communication open with workers and community leaders so that further concerns can be addressed.

We have also heard concerns about the potential impacts of large groups of people gathering near the heron rookery at the southwest corner of March Point. We are committed to making sure that our presence won’t disturb the herons during their breeding season, we are consulting with local experts, and we are planning all of our activities well away from that unique and precious habitat.

We believe that despite the challenges inherent in finding a just transition to move away from fossil fuels (particularly in communities where the economy is reliant on refining those fuels), we all share a great deal of common ground in our concerns for the future. We strongly believe in the importance of our movement finding ways to stand in genuine solidarity with labor and fenceline communities. If we aren’t talking to each other, it is too easy for corporations to divide us with confusion and misinformation. We look forward to continuing this dialogue and seeing what fruit it can bear.


The Break Free PNW Local Action Team

Below  is also a copy of a Press Release from the City of Anacortes Police Department that was released on April 27th, 2016. 

Press Release from City of Anacortes 4-22-2016

APD Release 4-27-2016

Public safety officials in Anacortes are preparing for a large scale demonstration in Anacortes and the March’s Point area from May 13th through the 15th. While we anticipate large crowds, we believe that the vast majority of protestors will be peaceful and will not adversely impact our community. We will protect their first amendment rights to the best of our ability and do our best to ensure their safety. We welcome them to our community and ask that they respect the rights of the people who live and work here.

We know there are those who want to engage in acts of civil disobedience that violate the law. Police will enforce the law and make arrests when appropriate. Responders are concerned that any attempts to interrupt the oil refining process could pose safety risks to refinery workers and the surrounding neighbors. Due to the safety risks involved with unauthorized people entering the secure areas surrounding the refineries, persons doing so will be subject to immediate arrest.

Unfortunately, there may be small groups of individuals who have embedded themselves with the protestors whose only purpose is to damage property, incite violence, and disrupt the flow of normal services in our area. This community has no tolerance for that type of activity and those who engage in it will be identified, arrested, and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Some delays and road closures are expected in Anacortes and the March’s Point area to accommodate the event. Officials anticipate that protesters may arrive by bicycle, kayak, and motor vehicles.

If you would like to learn more about the protests or have questions or additional  concerns about the upcoming protest that we haven’t addressed in our article here on www.SkagitBreaking.com please visit their website by clicking on  breakfreepnw.org.


About the Author

Chris Nelson
I'm a long time Skagit County Resident. I believe in doing the right thing and helping others when you can.

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