By Tar Sands Blockade

Nine people sitting 80 feet above ground in tree platforms on the path of TransCanada’s Keystone XL construction enter their third day of sustained action to stop the toxic tar sands pipeline. The sitters are undeterred by TransCanada’s role in the torture of their fellow blockaders.

Tuesday, Shannon Bebe and Benjamin Franklin delayed construction for most of the day when they locked arms around construction machinery, intent on protecting East Texas homes. The two were subjected to torture tactics by police only after TransCanada’s senior supervisors huddled with law enforcement to actively encourage the use of extreme pain compliance techniques on the peaceful protesters.

Immediately following TransCanada’s consultation, law enforcement handcuffed the protesters’ free hands to the heavy machinery in stress positions and proceeded to use sustained chokeholds, violent arm-twisting, pepper spray, and repeated tasering to coerce the two to abandon their protest. Extraordinarily, despite their torture, the two endured for over five hours, affirming their courageous stance that taking action now is less of a risk than doing nothing.

Upon the protesters’ arrest, TransCanada supervisors were seen and heard congratulating law enforcement on a job well done.

“TransCanada has frequently claimed its interest in protecting the safety of workers and protestors but now we can see that’s all a lie,” said Ron Seifert a spokesperson with Tar Sands Blockade. “Now that they have actively encouraged the torture of peaceful protestors its clear that this multinational corporation assigns no value to the basic humanity that all Texans and people everywhere deserve.”

With the news that their friends had been tortured with TransCanada’s approval, the eight original tree sitters were bravely joined by another, expanding the tree blockade further as TransCanada’s clear-cutting heavy machinery rapidly approaches. Construction is roughly 300 yards away from the tree blockade. All refuse to come down until TransCanada halts its dangerous pipeline project.

“I climbed this tree three days ago in the path of Keystone XL to demonstrate the dangers of this toxic pipeline and to let TransCanada know that we will continue to non-violently resist their brutal tactics,” said Justin Jacobs, an aerial blockader. “I’m here to defend this land from a multinational corporation who has blatant disregard for the safety of peaceful people, families, and our planet.“

Tar Sands Blockade is a coalition of Texas and Oklahoma landowners and climate justice organizers using peaceful and sustained civil disobedience to stop the construction of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

Concluding hours of hard-fought Keystone XL construction delays, Benjamin Franklin shared, “In light of everything that happened at the direction of TransCanada, I still don’t regret my involvement at all. I encourage everyone to persevere in the face of this type of sheer brutality. To follow one’s moral compass despite extreme challenges is the way we move forward towards a more humane, tar sands-free planet.”

From Tar Sands Blockade: