Climate Activists Slapped With Terrorism Charges for Devon Energy Protest
ACTIVISM, 20 Jan 2014
10 Jan 2014 – Two climate activists who staged a protest at the headquarters of Devon Energy, a Fortune 500 company based in Oklahoma city, have been charged with a “terrorism hoax” after black powder drifted down from a banner that they unfurled.
Moriah Stephenson and Stefan Warner, members of the Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance, were part of a group that blocked the entrance to Devon’s headquarters on December 13th last year and hung two banners in the building atrium. The red banners had the words “The odds are never in our favor” painted in gold letters using glitter powder which started to fall off soon after the action began.
The activists were protesting intensive energy extraction technologies of the company. In north Texas, Devon has drilled over 5,000 wells in an area called the Barnett Shale in the last decade to extract natural gas using hydraulic fracturing. (This is a technique – often called fracking – by which chemicals and water are injected into rock formations deep underground with serious environmental consequences.) Devon has also designed a technology to inject steam from saline water into sand formations 1,000 feet under the surface of the earth in Alberta, Canada, at its Jackfish project to extract bitumen, a heavy oil. The company is also backing the Keystone XL pipeline which will carry 830,000 barrels of crude extracted from tar sands in Alberta down south to the Gulf Coast where it will be refined into oil.
The Jackfish project has come under fire from the Beaver Lake Cree Nation who say that tar sands extraction operations have devastated the caribou herds that they rely on for food. Notably Devon Energy’s steam operations have led to major accidents such as an incident in 2010 when a plume of bitumen-laced, high-temperature steam spewed into the air for nearly 36 hours.
The protests at Devon’s offices this past December was attended by about a dozen activists in support of the Beaver Lake Cree. Some staged a mock oil spill out front and attempted to block the entrance to the building, while others hung a banner from the second floor.
Captain Dexter Nelson, an Oklahoma City police spokesman, told Mother Jones magazine that the “unknown substance” falling from the banners was described by police officers who arrived to shut down the protest as a possible “biochemical assault.” http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/12/tar-sands-keystone-protesters-arrested-terrorism-glitter
The activists say that the charges are absurd. “When we unfurled the banner and saw the glitter fall to the ground, we immediately felt guilty because we knew the janitor would have to clean it up,” Stephenson wrote in a statement on the activist website. “There was no panic, and almost immediately Devon employees began touching the banner and taking it down. As we exited the building a janitor began cleaning up the glitter with a broom. Stefan Warner turned to her and apologized for the mess.”
“I had no intention of scaring anyone, nor do I believe I truly did,” adds Warner. “My intention was to ‘arouse the conscience’ of a state that refuses to provide storm shelters for children at public schools yet has the gall to pay out $645,000,000 in tax subsidies to the oil and gas industry the past three fiscal years.”
DISCLAIMER: The statements, views and opinions expressed in pieces republished here are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of TMS. In accordance with title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. TMS has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is TMS endorsed or sponsored by the originator. “GO TO ORIGINAL” links are provided as a convenience to our readers and allow for verification of authenticity. However, as originating pages are often updated by their originating host sites, the versions posted may not match the versions our readers view when clicking the “GO TO ORIGINAL” links. This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.