Cynthia Linet (June 2015)
I’ve been a proud member of the Seattle Raging Grannies for about 2 years, but I feel as if I have known these women all my life.
While we support many issues including mental illness and homelessness, Climate warming is the issue of our time. The hurricanes that killed over 6,000 people in the Philippines recently, the heatwaves in India that have killed over 2,000 people this year alone, intense wild fires that grow worse each year due to drought, as well as the mass migrations of people all over the world, due to upheavals brought about by scarce resources, are all evidence of global warming. If we don’t resolve this one issue, stop burning fossil fuels and switch to solar and wind now, then it’s the end of life as we know it.
Shell Oil is the very image of corporate greed, Capitalism run amok, all that is wrong in our country; willing to drill in the arctic, inspite of their dismal track record and the strong opposition of the public, not to mention the 75% chance that they will have an oil spill. Would you board a plane if you knew there was a 75% chance of it crashing? Even yesterday, they had trouble in Port Townsend. They didn’t estimate the level of water they were in beforehand and got caught when the water was lower than they needed. Let’s hope they don’t crash and pollute the shore. Why do we allow it? They have to be stopped.
And that is why the grannies were willing to place themselves on the railroad tracks, chained to each other and to the rocking chairs. We had heard that Shell had a small window of time to get to the arctic to drill and explore before the winter ice sets in. If we could stall them til the end of June, we might be able to prevent them from going this year or maybe ever. Shell is the only company that still wants to continue exploiting the arctic. All the others have stopped.
So, at 6:10 am on June 9th, 2015, just before the shift change, our entourage of people and technical blockades landed at the site. We were astonished to find that there were no police anywhere to be seen. The grannies were chained to their rockers and to each other in less than 2 minutes. And four of us were attached by one arm to lockboxes. It took the police about 40 minutes to get there and then they came enmass, in 24 bright and shiny police cars with all their lights flashing.
They didn’t know what to do with us. Seemed rather confused at first. After awhile, the other technical blockades agreed to unlock since they had succeeded in preventing the workers from entering. We were the last in lock down. And we refused to go.
Then a funny thing happened, the police left. It was strange, not one around. I guess they figured that they could take a break, hope that we would unlock before the next shift or they’d come back then.
But pretty soon they were back. They surrounded the grannies with about 15 policemen and told us that they would be cutting us out and taking us to jail. There was no attempt at negotiation. They threw large tarps over us to prevent sparks from hurting us. They were careful. It took them awhile though to saw through the lockboxes, but they worked quickly.
Later on we figured that because we were on the railroad tracks the railroad company was angry. We had stopped them for 4 and a half hours. And while they were quick to say that it wasn’t oil or coal trains that were prevented from passing, we know that the fossil fuel industry has the railroad in its back pocket. Many agricultural products now have a difficult time getting to markets because the oil and coal trains are monopolizing the railways. So in essence, big oil and coal had demanded our removal and the police had done their bidding quickly.
The police treated us very carefully though and allowed our support team to come with us. After all, one of the grannies was 93 years old.
We weren’t there long and were told that a citation would be sent to us. It’s hard to believe that they will charge us though, it wouldn’t look too good if the entire environmental movement came to the trial to see a bunch of old ladies, who were trying to protect the planet for their grandchildren, be tried as common criminals.
Afterwards, I wish I had said to the chief officer there “So do you consider this to be one of your finer moments in policing?” Maybe I can use it next time.
I’m old, what’s coming won’t effect me much. This is about the future of our children and the planet. I could never live with myself if I didn’t try to do something to stop it. When I’m not doing something active towards stopping our slide into disaster, that’s when I really get depressed.
I want you to know though, that there is something quite joyous about joining with those who think like you do and are willing to put their lives on the line for what they believe. Relationships grow very close as trust develops. The Grannies could not have done that blockade without a strong support system. And I can’t tell you how much fun its been. I’m getting to work with a lot of young people who respect the elderly and are happy we are there.
All I can say is, our generation caused it and we need to fix it for our children before it’s too late. So there are endless ways to get involved. Lots of organizations working on these issues. Greenpeace, 350.org, The Sierra Club, just to name a few. They’re easy to find. Or you could start a Raging Grannie group in your neck of the woods. Our website shows just how to do it.
In the end, I do not want my greatgrandchildren to look back after I’m gone and wonder why I didn’t do more to try and change things.