Humor in Activism: Washington Protestors Temporarily Stop Fracking
December 8, 2017 Openhearted Rebel
By Wes Annac, Editor, Openhearted Rebel
There are a lot of things happening on our planet you wouldn’t really think are funny, but that doesn’t mean we can’t laugh about them. Laughter helps us cope with the chaos, and being willing to joke about sensitive issues can make them easier to discuss collectively. Laughter is a universal language that can bring people together in even the most divisive circumstances.
If we’re going to resist the handful of corporate elites making decisions that hurt us all and devastate the planet we live on, we might as well keep a sense of humor about it. This is exactly what anti-fracking activists did in Washington, at an encampment they built over train tracks on which fracking materials are transported.
Halting the Transport of Fracking Sand
Kyle Swenson at The Washington Post reported on Nov. 29 that twelve days earlier, activists set up camp at the intersection of Jefferson Street SE and Seventh Avenue in Olympia, Washington. They built their encampment on two sets of train tracks with the goal of halting the transport of ceramic proppants – a substance akin to sand that’s used for fracking. (1)
Kyle writes that when protestors first built the encampment, they expected police to destroy it within 24 hours. This was because a protest at the same spot took place one year earlier (on just one track instead of two) which ended with local police destroying the encampment less than a day after it was built. Surprisingly, their makeshift structures lasted over 12 days this time around; effectively preventing the sand-like substance from reaching its destination for that period. (1)
Native tribes in the area started the protest, Kyle writes. Indigenous activist Kyle Taylor Lucas told the Post that their overall goal is to “resist the forced complicity in this brutal practice to devastate the earth”, adding that each protestor has “came together for the common demands”. The protest created tension between local political figures, port commissioners, local police, and the rail company that owns the tracks. (1)
Kyle Swenson writes that the shipments’ path crosses indigenous land and land given to the natives via treaties. As Kyle Taylor Lucas stated in the Post article, this makes it clear the government is once again deciding the fate of their land without consent from indigenous inhabitants. Whereas more “mainstream” thinkers joined the protest last year, this time the crowd consisted more of anarchists and young people motivated to act by the events of the past year. (1)
Police Chief Wanted No Involvement
Kyle writes that the president of the railroad wrote to the Olympia Mayor and police chief that they should remove the encampment because it had halted traffic on the rail line, hurting the industries that use it. (1)
The police chief didn’t want to be involved because of the events of last year, Kyle writes, in which police destroyed the encampment in a late-night raid and arrested protestors, prompting “masked people” to march downtown. The chief believes this caused the public to distrust the police department. He stated that he didn’t want to fight against his own citizens for a cause he himself doesn’t endorse. (1)
Despite this, police did eventually clear this year’s encampment. (2)
So, where’s the humor in all this? First, if you’re looking for a bright side, the protest was a definite victory in that they stopped the shipments from reaching their destination for over twelve days. This made the industries nervous and sent a clear message about the power of the people. Besides that, there is some humor in this situation. And it comes from the activists themselves.
List of “Demands”
On December 5th, two days after police cleared the encampment, Lee Camp reported that the protestors had been asked for a list of demands despite that their intentions and what they wanted were clear. They took the opportunity to be funny.
The video below is NSFW.
Some of their demands included to “blow up the sun” and “compost the police”. They also demanded that “Steve Hall fight a bear”, among other things. Lee notes that their sarcastic demands indicate they were already getting what they wanted by stopping the shipments. (2)
Some of their other demands, as reported by Earth First, include:
- The complete destruction of time itself
- A brick for every window
- A swift and brutal end to the exploitation commonly referred to as “science”
- The destruction of all dams, and the return of the salmon
- No motor boats ever again
- That fascists and politicians spontaneously combust
- Release of all prisoners and the Total Destruction of prison, in all of its forms
- Mandatory clown uniforms for all Olympia parking employees (3)
In such a serious, high-stakes situation, this is one example of a group fighting for a good cause but remembering not to take themselves too seriously. It’s a small silver lining in the often bleak and brutal struggle to oppose corporate environmental destruction. If nothing else, it gives us a reason to smile.
Hopefully, the protest will last even longer next year.
- Kyle Swenson, “Anti-fracking activists and anarchists are blocking rail tracks in Olympia, Wash. They don’t plan on leaving.”, Washington Post, November 29, 2017 – https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/11/29/anti-fracking-activists-and-anarchists-are-blocking-rail-tracks-in-olympia-they-dont-plan-on-leaving/
- Lee Camp, “Brave Protesters Succeed In Putting Halt To Fracking”, Redacted Tonight (Video), December 5, 2017 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OoAwvbyR6aY&feature=youtu.be
- “Washington: Members of the Olympia Blockade Released A List of Demands”, Earth First!, November 26, 2017 – http://earthfirstjournal.org/newswire/2017/11/26/washington-the-olympia-blockade-releases-their-list-of-demands/
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About the author:
I’m a twenty-something writer & blogger with an interest in spirituality, revolution, music and the transformative creative force known as love. I run Openhearted Rebel, a daily news blog dedicated to igniting a revolution of love by raising social and spiritual awareness.
I also have a personal blog, Wes Annac’s Personal Blog, in which I share writings related to spiritual philosophy, creativity, heart consciousness and revolution (among other topics).
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