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FBI investigating 41 cases of eco-sabotage in Washington

The Hill
The Hill
 2021-07-30
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  • the FBI in Washington has been investigating at least 41 incidents of eco-sabotage.
  • The most serious eco-sabotage incident in recent memory as the damage resulted in 29,000 gallons of crude oil being spilled and the evacuation of 120 people nearby.
  • As Indigenous rights and the climate crisis become infused, activists are mobilizing direct action, such as blockading railways and other critical infrastructure.

Since Jan. 19, 2020, the FBI in Washington has been investigating at least 41 incidents of eco-sabotage, specifically direct action against railways and rail lines connected to oil production.

In one instance on Dec. 22, a train got derailed and caught on fire in Custer, Washington, near the Canadian border and about an hour or so away from Seattle, as The Guardian reported.

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This was regarded as the most serious eco-sabotage incident in recent memory as the damage resulted in 29,000 gallons of crude oil being spilled and the evacuation of 120 people nearby, NTSB reported.

During that time, about a dozen eco-sabotage incidents took place.

On Nov. 28, two women – Samantha Brooks, 24, and Ellen Brennan Reiche – were arrested for allegedly placing a "shunt” on railway tracks near Bellingham, Washington. A shunt is a wire that stretches between the tracks and mimics the electrical signal of a train, which causes oncoming trains to engage their emergency brakes, the Guardian reported.

Causing oncoming trains to engage their emergency brakes is dangerous for those carts with explosive materials are onboard.

On July 9, Brooks pleaded guilty to violating Title 18 of the US Code, which penalizes terrorists who attack and direct violence against railroads, whereas Reiche pleaded not guilty for the same charges and faces trial on Aug. 30.

Both of them face up to 20 years in prison.

The saboteurs were acting on the behalf of the Indigenous people of the Wet’suwet’en territory in northern British Columbia because they wanted to stop the construction of the Coastal Gaslink pipeline, according to anarchist blogs and The Guardian.

As Indigenous rights and the climate crisis become infused, activists are mobilizing direct action, such as blockading railways and other critical infrastructure, even if it means conducting strategies that prompt terror.

In the early 2000s,the Justice Department regarded apparent “eco-terrorism” as the top domestic terrorism concern, according to The Intercept. So much so, one senator even said it ranked higher “over the likes of white supremacists, militias, and anti-abortion groups.”

Steven Beda, assistant professor of history at the University of Oregon, said the recent sabotage reminded him of Earth First.

As Changing America previously reported, Earth First is a radical eco-saboteur group that throughout the 1970s and 1980s vandalized logging equipment, destroyed logging roads and spiked trees in the Pacific north-west, particularly in Montana.

“A lot of these things were meant as a form of psychological warfare … especially with tree spiking, to make loggers so afraid that they don’t want to go to work,” Beda said.

For some groups, climate activists were once considered opponents to some Indigenous communities. The Guardian cites GreenPeace opposing the Inuit seal hunt as an example of this. But now the intersection of environmental protection and Indigineous rights are at the forefront of many activist groups.

On Jan. 7, 2020, the Wet’suwet’en nation called for solidarity from Indigenous and non-Indigenous people after a judge granted an order against its community members. The Wet’suwet’en tribes were already raided by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who were authorized to use lethal force against them.

“Light your sacred fires and come to our aid as the RCMP prepares again to enact colonial violence against Wet’suwet’en people,” they said in a statement. They asked that people act peacefully.

People protested in the streets and blockaded on the rail lines, halting trains for weeks and prompting layoffs of VIA Rail employees.

On Jan. 22, an anonymous anarchist posted on a blog that the mass protests had inspired them to sabotage trains in Washington state, saying, “This simple action can generate enough confusion in the system to cause big slowdowns and bureaucratic delays.”

It is their objective to disrupt economic activity, calling BNSF, the largest freight railroad in North America, “a primo target for blockages and slow downs,” the Guardian reported.

“If the RCMP raids Wet’suwet’en territory, we will shut down the supply lines where we stand,” the poster wrote.

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Comments / 2

Robert Frost
07-31

Tracy Stone-Manning, an ecoterrorist who wants government imposed population control, is Biden's pick to lead the Bureau of Land Management and they're surprised about an increase in ecoterrorism.

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11
Emperor x Time
07-31

YOU got nothing better to do huh, if only you can tie the BIG ORANGE MEANIE, Jan 6th, RUSSIA, 9/11, INFLATION and White SUPREMACY together then Biden can put away his note cards! 😃🙃😃🙃

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5

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