by Nic Bowcut / Direct Action Spokane
SPOKANE- An estimated 50 individuals braved cooling temperatures and the threat of arrest to show their support for stopping the transportation of coal and oil by rail in Spokane, WA. The rally, drawing individuals from as far away as Montana, highlighted the growing resentment toward large corporation’s desire to use rail systems to transport potential dangerous materials across the country, along with the hazardous and potentially lethal precedent set in the continued use of fossil fuels.
Thomas Schmidt, a local activist, stated: “I know that our culture, based on consumerism, economic exploitation, material accumulation and profit, is exhausting our natural and human resources. Therefore I have decided I must nonviolently take direct action, placing my body in the way to stop their behavior and sincerely to engage them or whoever else will pay attention.”
Schmidt, along with others, stood tall, facing potential arrest as they blocked the rail way. Police from both the United Pacific and Burlington Northern Rail companies arrived roughly ten minutes into the rally. In the end, no arrests were made.
This rally was just one of a growing number nationwide, especially in the Pacific Northwest, drawing attention to an issue that has seen opposition growing on two fronts: public safety and environmental exploitation.
The rally was highlighted by several speakers, including Standing Rock protester Rusty Nelson, Spokane artist and activist Jacob Johns, Dr. Gunnar Holmquist, and “Raging Granny” and recent coal and oil train blockade arrestee Margie Heller.