Thursday, September 6, 2012

"New York Ain't No Frackin' Town: Spectra Pipeline, Shut It Down."

For the last few weeks, news, rumors, and actions around the Spectra Pipeline have only gained steam. 

"Governor Cuomo, Save Our Water - Don't Frack New York."
"Once You Frack, You can't Go Back!" 

Hunken has taken a huge leadership role around the issue!  Photo by Jim Fourratt. 

Early this week, I saw this call on Facebook. 

NYC – URGENT CALL TO ACTION: stand up against fracking

Thursday: 8:30am and 6pm
Sunday: 3pm
It's showdown time. For real. Spectra Energy launched into full construction on the Hudson River site early Tuesday morning. Within 12 hours they had set up a barge south of the pier holding a massive crane, jacked up the road and cut into the pedestrian walk-way. Within 3 wee
ks they will begin shutting down the West Side Highway lane by lane and complete this phase of construction. If we don't rise up now, the pipe will be laid and the radon-laced gas will start to flow.
We won't let them frack our city.
This Thursday we show up and shut them down.

Morning and Night- We won't stop til they stop.
WHEN: Thursday ( tomorrow!) 8:30am And 6pm

WHERE: Gansevoort and Hudson River
Get there early when the jackhammers and bulldozers start cracking. Let our voices drown them out!
Show up in the evening before they plan to shut down traffic.

Sunday Sep. 9th @ 3pm
Pier 51: children's water playground
Teach in, shout out, Non-violent direct action training, Family friendly fun, music, Timesup bike party and more!

This is NY's moment to directly confront the dirty, corrupt fracking industry here at our door step. Cuomo and Bloomberg are willing to sacrifice our land, water and health. We deserve better. We demand clean energy and we are taking action now. Let's run these cowboys out of town!
Be there or be fracked!

Scene this morning.  'No Pipeline'  - Jason Brock

Thursday, morning I rode up to the action, over the Manhattan Bridge, across the city to the Westside Highway Bike path  up to Gansevoort Street.  There people were dressed in bio hazzard suits with more "No Fracking Way" Signs.  There was Jim Fourrat, Monica, Henry and the rest of the no fracking crew from Occupy the Spectra Pipeline, a sixteen mile, pipeline planned for Statan Island, Bayone, NJ, and the Hudson River, right into the West Village.  

"Has the drilling started?" I asked.

Monica pointed at the workers starting to drill into the ground, to create the beginnings of a pipeline for natural gas, risking explosions, radon gas, putting the playground where my kids play off the water at risk.

"You have to tell your friends to do something," one women screamed at me.  I walked away.  Everyone was heated.

Lopi was passing out flyers with a picture of Smokie the Bear wearing a "No Fracking" hat warning everyone:
"Only you can prevent faucet fires!  Join the growing coalition resisting hydro fracking  in NY. Stop Spectra Energy's Radioactive pipeline, being built now in the West Village."

Eventually the workers started putting boards on the fencing separating the people from the site so people could not see what they were doing. 

Monica walked up to me, gave me a hug, and stepped over the concrete barricade along with Lopi and Sandra. 
As the bulldozer moved up, Monica, Lopi, and Sandra sat down.  

Monica, Lopi, and Sandra blocking the bulldozer.  Photo by Jason Block. 
Occupy the Pipeline under the bulldozer. 

"New York Ain't No Frackin' Town: Spectra Pipeline, Shut It Down."

You cannot under emphasize how brave it is for activists to put their bodies, lives, and careers on the line to block the machinery of this system.  Rachel Corrie died taking a similar action a decade ago.  These forms of disobedience are some of the only reasons we have had change in this country. 

I started to call Chris Quinn's office. This is her district.  But no one answered.  So far she has been MIA on this issue. "There is no gay seat in the Village, its supposed to be a progressive seat," reminds Jim Fourratt.

Hunken and company Mic Checked, reminding everyone there have been hearing periods but too few have listened.  Direct action is the only thing that can really stop such an action.  And stop it they did for three hours with their direct action.  Ed and Peter from Occupy also joined the blockade.

Eventually, the police came.  By this point, most in the group had decided to leave the blockade, to fight another day.  But two activists jumped back into front of the bulldozed and were arrested.  

A veteran Occupier from the earliest days, Ed later told me how powerful that moment felt for him. 

The fear in the air was palpable.  Watching one man had a stroke and had to be taken away.  I asked some of the workers why they were doing this?  Wasn't there another way to make a living?  Lopi made the point that we stand in solidarity with workers fighting, hoping they can find work which will not put the environment and their lives at risk.  

Standing along the fence with our "Don't Frack with Public Health, Occupy the Pipeline Banner," we kept talking to passers by.  a man from the parks department came to tell us to put the sign down.  

"You cannot hold that sign here," he explained.

"Why" we asked.

"Parks Rules," he explained.

"People carry signs all over Union Square all the time" the man holding the sign explained, implying this was selective enforcement of the rules.  

"Its Hudson River Park rules - passed by Pataki" he explained.  

"Can you show me those rules," I asked him.  "Cause the First Amendment of the Constitution is pretty clear about our rights to petition the government for redress of grievances."

Standing with the signs, he eventually brought us regs 751.7 of the Hudson River Park Rules and Regs, section C
"Unlawful posting of notices or signs."

" It is illegal for any person to post, display, affix, stand, construct or carry any placard, flag, 
banner, sign or model or display any such item by means of aircraft, kite, balloon or other aerial 
device, in, on, or above the surface of the park for any purpose whatsoever without a permit issued by 
the trust. Each separate item placed in violation of this section constitutes a separate violation."  

Photo of sign by  Felix Bunke .
Photo by 
 Rebecca Kemble'

Those running and regulating the Hudson River Park want to make sure the park space is a First Amendment Censorship zone.  It is us to all of us to fight this and fight the system of short sighted thinking supporting the Spectra Pipeline.  

See you in the streets, tonight for Round Two, and Sunday for Round Three. 

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