In-Person Actions: At Long Last!

June 3rd: Remember Mosier, Stop Tar Sands Bomb Trains

On a bright sunny Friday morning, activists fighting climate catastrophe gathered in Cully Park, in the largest numbers since the pandemic struck last year. 350PDX provided bright sunflower umbrellas while newly vaccinated comrades greeted each other with hugs. On the 5-year anniversary of the Mosier train derailment, we were there to tell the media and the City of Portland to deny the Land Use Compatibility Statement that Zenith Energy needs to get an air quality permit from the Department of Environmental Quality.

Cully Park sits right above the tracks where oil trains enter Portland on their way to Zenith Oil Facility in Northwest Portland, between Forest Park and the Willamette River. As a long train loaded with potash from Canada rumbled past, it was easy to imagine the devastation of a derailment, especially of a train carrying diluted bitumen from Alberta, or shale oil from the Bakken Fields of North Dakota – both transported to ships via piping at the Zenith facility.

Speakers from Cedar Green (who organized the event), Columbia Riverkeeper, Breach Collective and others were eloquent and compelling, but there was no mainstream media present. Currently plans are being made for next steps to increase pressure on City Councilors and educate more of our neighbors about the grave danger Zenith poses to all of us and our future.

June 5th: Youth Against Line 3

This rally in Terry Schrunk Plaza organized by Portland Youth Climate Strike was a success and an inspiration. Four high school students from the PYCS and XRPDX’s own faithful editor Austen Lethbridge-Scarl gave speeches that radiated energy, intelligence, and commitment. One young women, who did not know about Line 3 until that morning, wrote a rap song that same day, and it was wonderful. They even took a break from speeches and danced in the center of the plaza! To top it off, the rally got a major boost with the presence of media (KATU and The Oregonian).

Your Faithful Editor, Austen Lethbridge-Scarl, spoke at the June 7th action in front of Chase Bank. (Photo credit: Janet Weil)

June 7: Solidarity Rally: Stop Line 3, Stop The Money Pipeline

From 7 in the morning until late afternoon, dedicated climate protectors held a silent vigil in front of the downtown Chase Bank across from Pioneer Square. Chase is the number 1 bank financing fossil fuel infrastructure projects, and a major funder of the Line 3 expansion. We shut it down, and later activists chalked messages to current and potential bank customers to put their money elsewhere.

At 4 pm, starting with the compelling drumbeats and singing of 4 Indigenous men, XRPDX and allies held a rally on the sidewalk in front of the bank. Organizer Diana Meisenhelter spoke powerfully about the connections between the Indigenous-led struggle to Stop Line 3 in Minnesota and the Indigenous-led struggles for water in Oregon. These include the Warm Springs Confederated Tribes fight for clean drinking water infrastructure that the federal government is supposed to provide (but has not), and the threat of right-wing violence over Klamath River water allocations during a drought, inspired by Ammon Bundy. Diana also spoke of the urgent need to call the City Council to demand the denial of Zenith’s Land Use Compatibility Statement. Tar sands trains and oil transshipment piping that puts out a toxic stench are NOT compatible with land use in our city.

Cheyenne/Lakota Artist, Activist & Water Protector Roben reminded folks that we have to support elected officials to make the right decisions, such as denying permits to Zenith (hello, City Commissioner Dan Ryan and Governor Kate Brown) and revoking permits for Line 3 (hello, President Biden), not just vote and call it good.

Your Faithful Editor, Austen Lethbridge-Scarl read his moving essay about going to Minnesota in March and how magical the land, night sky, waters and wild rice are – and how our struggles for racial justice and climate justice are inevitably connected:

“There’s Northern Minnesota itself: It’s hard not to see why that place is so special. We stayed with the Giniw Collective, a group of Anishinaabe and Lakota Water Protectors who were gracious enough to host us for a week. We caught some late winter snow and I’ve never felt as peaceful as when I was standing in the frozen air among the birch trees at the camp. The sunsets were the most intense and powerful I’ve seen in my whole life.”

Read the entire essay, “What the Water Protectors of Minnesota Taught Me.”

Watching Unicorn Riot’s livestream from her phone, Your Faithful Editor, Janet Weil described the sustained direct action happening concurrently in Minnesota and called for the crowd to “send a huge pulse of love and solidarity from the mouth of the Willamette to the headwaters of the Mississippi!”

More chalking, chants and drumming concluded the rally, with people buzzing full of energy and ideas.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly said the June 5th action was put on by the Portland Youth Climate Council. It was actually organized by the Portland Youth Climate Strike. We regret the error!


What the Water Protectors of Minnesota Taught Me

Film Reviews: Indigenous People Fighting Back