By Alex Garland
The Seattle Police Department (SPD) rose early Tuesday morning, wooed by a swarm of Raging Grannies and other protesters who had gathered at the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 5 bridge and Chelan Avenue South. Protesters attempted to prevent workers from boarding Royal Dutch Shell’s Arctic oil-drilling rig, the Polar Pioneer. For a few hours, they succeeded.
The Polar Pioneer has seen it’s share of protests since it’s arrival in Puget Sound on May 14th. Demonstrators have been protesting the rig both on land, and on water in kayaks in an attempt to bring attention to the possible devastation and a more than 75 percent chance of an oil spill on the rig once it reaches the Arctic, according to Alaska Public Media. (http://www.alaskapublic.org/2015/04/27/boem-explains-75-chance-of-arctic-oil-spill/)
Three activists used concrete-filled, 50-gallon drums to blockade the workers’ entrance to the rig while attaching themselves to it via armholes. Activist Zarna Joshi, who had locked herself to a concrete barrel said, “I’m locking down today because the devastation of climate change is already upon us. From India’s recent heatwave to the Philippine’s Typhoon Haiyan, innocent lives are being destroyed all over the world. I can’t stand by and watch Shell, a reckless and selfish fossil fuel corporation, drill in the Arctic and make climate change even worse. The Arctic belongs to Mother Earth, and Shell can’t have it.”
Using a lockbox device for human blockades, two activists blocked a side road that could be used to get rig workers through. Another used an elbow shaped lockbox to attach themselves to a car at the Chelan Avenue South location. Activists blockading the bridge, side road and attached to the car decided to self-release in order to avoid jail. Rosie Daniels locked their arms to a car said, “All avenues which [someone] would go through to stop the rig have been exhausted and the people have made their voice loud and clear.”
The Raging Grannies continued their protest, causing SPD to bring out the power tools and begin clipping chains. The Grannies sat in rocking chairs, sipping tea and knitting, as more than 25 officers from both the Port of Seattle and SPD swarmed around them. Thick plastic sheets were draped over the Grannies as officers cut through the lockboxes. As the Grannies were led away, as demonstrators shouted “Stop Shell, not Grannies”. The goal of the protest was to “disrupt work on the rig to delay it’s (sic) departure from Seattle.” Protesters blocked the entrance to Terminal 5 for approximately three hours before workers found a way in. Five demonstrators were arrested but all were released by 1pm.Φ
Alex Garland is a freelance photojournalist in the Pacific Northwest covering local news with an emphasis on social justice and activism. If he’s not in the streets tracking down stories, you might find him deep in the forest or near a river.