On Tuesday, peaceful protesters blocking Keystone XL pipeline construction equipment in Texas were brutalized by police at the request and encouragement of TransCanada officials.1
The two protesters, who had handcuffed themselves together on TransCanada’s construction equipment, were subjected to choke holds, stress positions in which their free arms were handcuffed, contorted, and then pepper sprayed, burning their skin. They were then tased — one of the activists was tased twice.
There is no excuse for subjecting peaceful, defenseless protesters to this level of violence.
Reports indicate these tactics were carried out at the request direct of the TransCanada officials on the scene, who later congratulated police on a “job well done.”2
Police had been peaceful toward the protesters before TransCanada officials arrived. Then TransCanada officials encouraged police to “run off” the activists who were observing the protest. Once the cameras were out of sight, the unnecessary brutality was used until the pain became too much for the protesters.
Law enforcement officers are also known as peace officers. Their job is to protect the peace and serve the public, not corporations. Nonviolent civil disobedience has played a key role in winning social change in the U.S. In Texas, peaceful protesters are putting their bodies on the line to literally block TransCanada’s machinery because they see this as a key battle in our fight against climate change.
It is the job of the police to arrest these protesters and, in the absence of violent resistance, to do so without violence or brutality. If this slows down the work of TransCanada, so be it.
TransCanada has a history of lying to, bullying and strong-arming landowners. Now it is bringing violence upon peaceful protesters. If citizens are so moved to right a wrong that they will line up to be arrested in front of TransCanada’s machines, then TransCanada will have to wait while police safely and humanely arrest them.
We cannot let TransCanada’s brutality intimidate protesters into standing down, we cannot allow our public safety officers be commandeered as violent tools of a foreign oil company. And we will not let TransCanada jam its apocalyptic pipeline down our throats without due process of law.
The courageous protesters are taking action because they see the risk of doing nothing in the face of the “game over for the climate” Keystone XL pipeline as greater than the risk of personal harm as a result of their protest and arrest. They are playing an essential role to slow construction right now, and we need to do what we can to stand with them, and pressure TransCanada to ensure that peaceful protesters are treated safely, not with completely undue brutality.
Click below to automatically sign the petition to stand with the tar sands blockaders in Texas:
Thanks for fighting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
Elijah Zarlin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets
- “TransCanada Actively Encouraged Torture Tactics to be Used on Peaceful Protesters,” Tar Sands Blockade, 9/25/12
- “TransCanada Urges Texas Police to Use “Aggressive Pain Compliance Tactics” on Keystone XL Blockaders,” Fire Dog Lake, 9/26/12