This week CLDC is providing legal support to some of the most active frontline climate defense camps in the country as part of our nationwide tour to empower and embolden activists with legal knowledge. I am also meeting with lawyers to recruit and assist them in continuing to provide support to these vital campaigns.
For the past, several days I have been at the Bayou Bridge camp, also known as L’eau est La Vie (Water is Life in French) deep in western Louisiana. These AMAZING activists are fighting in staunch resistance against the Bayou Bridge Pipeline as it continues to force its way through private land, poor communities, as well as this amazing system of bayous and wetlands. In fact, as I write this from my tent at camp, I can hear the machines behind me tearing up the earth and bulldozing this incredibly rare and critical habitat as birds and other animals flee into the camp in terror.
The activists here endure many hardships while living, scouting and conducting actions in a swamp, the most significant to me at the moment is the mighty mosquito. With so much still water, humidity, and hardly a breeze to be found, the buzzing of the mosquito is almost as distracting and annoying as the sound of the bulldozers!
This tight group of diverse activists must also deal with rural surroundings, modest numbers, and threats from TigerSwan operatives who renamed themselves after being denied the right to work in Louisiana, but no doubt the command and operations appear very much the same as they harass and constantly conduct intimidating surveillance upon the nonviolent pipeline dissidents who dare to show the world what they and Energy Transfer Partners (responsible for the DAPL pipeline as well) are really doing to our land and communities.
One of the most commendable aspects of the Bayou Bridge campaign is the way they have centered their camp on the environmental injustice of this pipeline. The communities here are already drowning in chemical facilities and oil and gas infrastructure, with pipelines riddling the ground and air—some of the pipes are built above the roads where you drive under them as well as on top of them and the locals understand that if one of these places explodes or has a fire—they are trapped with no escape.
These mostly low income African-American communities met with me at a small Baptist church on a dirt road in St. James Parish where this pipeline is planned to terminate. I provided them with a know your rights training that not only covered their rights when interacting with racist cops and how to improve police accountability, but also discussed the power of the people to work together to overcome bullies like Energy Transfer Partners and their security henchmen to give strength to people who the corporations use and violate their human and civil rights.
This area is also called “cancer alley” because so many people die or suffer cancers and other health issues after drinking the water and breathing the air from these facilities which include an ammonia and nitrogen factory down the road from the school, as well as numerous oil & gas facilities. The air burns my throat and eyes, but the locals are forced to raise children and live their lives with no escape—they’ve asked the companies to buy them out so they could move their families to healthier areas (thus creating literally an inhabitable sacrifice zone) but the companies refuse….and then…yet another corporation plots to add further insult to injury by forcing their earth killing pipeline through this community as well.
This time however, the community has said enough is enough and is coming together with the activists to fight together. In fact, some of the activists are helping this small community build a kitchen and dining area so they can feed their people and plan how to better protect their families and neighbors. It was an honor to provide legal education and support to this, and other local communities on this trip, and an open invitation was extended to all of them to reach out to the CLDC at any time for legal help in the future. True solidarity is being built upon the Louisiana bayou.
These pipelines plan their attack against communities that they think will offer little or no resistance to their greed. Each foot of pipe that is allowed to be buried in the ground will affect all of us as climate change continues to ravage the world—we must stand together with these targeted communities.
CLDC will be a part of making sure that they have the skills and information they need to stand up and fight back if that is what they want to do. And we will ensure that they know if they assert their rights, CLDC will have their back.
Anyone who has the capacity and desire to come help fight the Bayou Bridge Pipeline should do so as soon as possible. Make sure you’ve had a good know your rights for activists training before you go (it’s available on our website) and don’t forget to bring your bug spray. You will not regret being part of an incredible community of extremely dedicated, smart, brave frontlines activists who are fighting a battle that many others walked away from. Come cook food (meals provided), give trainings, and be a part of their campaign if you can—but do it soon—the black snake is drawing closer and the time is now if it’s advance can be stopped or stalled.
Contact http://nobbp.org/ to apply before you come; and donate to their efforts on that page as well!
Tomorrow I’m off to another battleground against another pipeline that is threatening the livelihoods and way of life for another rural community. Will report back again soon.
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