TransCanada's Police Abuse Peaceful Blockader - A First Hand Account of the Arrest (Day 24)
By Tar Sands Action / tarsandsblockade.org

BREAKING UPDATE 5:15PM: According to blockaders on the ground, several arrests have been made at the Tree Blockade. We are awaiting details but it has been confirmed two tree-sitters have been arrested.

Monday I was arrested at the site of Tar Sands Blockade’s tree blockade in Winnsboro, TX.  Though some people attend an action of that size with the intention of being arrested, whether to stop construction activities or to create media attention, I personally never intended to land myself in police custody.

As part of the blockade’s regular ground team, I participate in support operations for those who spend their days and weeks high above the forest floor.  Monday was no different, and I entered the woods in full camouflage with several tasks in mind, all of which revolved around resupplying tree sitters with basic necessities: Fresh fruit and vegetables, vitamins, warm socks, etc.

After a fairly successful morning of fairly undetected movement, I volunteered to try to draw the attention of several police – most of whom are off duty officers from other counties being paid very well to assist in starving out the tree sitters – so another contingent of ground supporters could send a bag full of materials to our friends in the canopy.

Unfortunately, my efforts worked all too well, and in trying to draw a few police in my direction, I ended up drawing almost every police in the vicinity.  I made a break for the densest part of a nearby thicket, knowing that most of the officers would be unwilling and unable to follow me through such dense and thorn-laden areas.  I was half right.  Most police wouldn’t follow me in, but other police had finally been stationed in the brambles.  Every turn I made found me face to face with another police officer, most of whom were whooping and hollering as if participating in a rodeo.  All I could hear aside from the crashing branches were calls of “Hoo, we got a live one!” and “Here we go baby, come my way!”  Exhausted and surrounded by roughly ten or more police joyously waiting to tackle me, I fell to my knees and raised my hands.

That’s when a larger man, who I later heard claim to work for the Hays County Sheriff’s Department, threw me to my stomach.  He quickly moved around in front of me, placed his hands on either side of my head, and thrust his knee into my mouth.  It was an intentional assault, and though it stung, all I could think was, “This is what police do.  They brutalize people.”  He sat on my neck with all of his weight for a few minutes while ripping through the small pack I had strapped to my back.  When he stood me up, I commented that the knee to the face was absolutely unnecessary, and the surrounding officers chimed in that they didn’t see such a thing happen.  With a laugh, I offered that, “Of course you didn’t.  You like to knee people in their faces too.”   As I was loaded into an off road vehicle, still more police tried to blame their minor scratches and scrapes on me, claiming I should be charged with a felony count of assault against them.  I was clearly bleeding more than anyone else in the vicinity – blood I drew myself crashing through thick stands of briar – and I laughed that such supposed tough guys, men so willing to assault an outnumbered and surrendering person, would then start crying foul.  The veil of authority so clearly lifted, I witnessed what so many millions of Americans must undergo regularly:  Violent and abusive men blaming their victims for the violence they inflicted upon them.

I was summarily transferred into the hands of on duty Wood County Sheriff’s Department staff, who were, to their credit, kinder.  I glimpsed what is perhaps a false impression, that there is somewhere beneath their dedication to a law written and manipulated by the wealthy, a sense of understanding for what we at the blockade are doing.  Wood county is rural, and I would imagine it’s hard to work for the Sheriff’s Department, and to not know someone whose land is being stolen, destroyed, and turned into a ticking time bomb.  Never did I hear the phrase, “I’m just doing my job,” more times in one day, and I reminded every person who tried to absolve themselves with such a modern and absurd incantation, that the worst crimes in human history have all been committed by people who were “just doing their jobs,” and that our jobs do not relieve us of our moral and ethical obligations as conscientious human beings.

As the police pick-up truck drove myself and another captured friend through the clear-cut and back to the road, I was first overcome with a deep sadness.  I felt that I had failed my friends, and even that I had failed the forest itself.  I have spent many nights in those woods, and can attest to their majesty and wonder.  I watched the canopy come down at the hands of men operating machines, which could only be built and utilized in a world as insane as ours.  As I viewed the devastation that TransCanada had wrought upon that landscape, I began to imagine that devastation running across the continent, and was then filled with a greater rage and resolve to continue on, no matter how many thug police are set on my path.

Load Comments
You Might Be Interested In
120 min · Wall Street Occupation, was a video of the 8Th day of the occupation of Wall Street, in New York City, which took place on Sept 25, 2011. 99% of the people are going to take back our Media, Military, Courts, and our Government, which have been taken over by the wealthy 1%...
3 min · Fracking company Cuadrilla have descended on the small West Sussex village of Balcombe, where 85% of the residents have said they are opposed to fracking and supportive of those taking action to stop it. Residents and their supporters have set up the Balcombe Community...
4 min · A photo Journalist describes his experience following the black bloc as they rampage through the streets of Toronto during the G20 Summit, entirely unhindered by police, despite an unprecedented 1 billion dollar security budget. Over 900 peaceful protesters were arrested...
5 min · United States Marine Corps. Sgt. Shamar Thomas from Roosevelt, NY went toe to toe with the New York Police Department. An activist in the Occupy Wall Street movement, Thomas voiced his opinions of the NYPD police brutality that had and has been plaguing the #OWS movement...
14 min · On December 16th, 2010 a veteran lead protest stages in opposition to Obama and his administrations ever expanding foreign intervention in the Middle East. Demonstrators were arrested after climbing over police barricades and chaining themselves to the White House gates.  On...
123 min · World leaders and activists from around the world gathered for the G20 Summit. With over 19,000 police officers and security personnel on hand, the results lead to over 1100 arrests, martial law in downtown Toronto, and the most massive violation of civil liberties in...
95 min · This excellent documentary takes us into another world; the world of rogue loggers and firefighters turned eco-warriors. The story begins as an arsonist burns 9000 acres of protected old-growth public forest in Oregon that can not be logged unless it burns. To stop the...
10 min · Canadian police have arrested over 900 people in Toronto in a police crackdown on protests at the G20 summit. Riot police used batons, plastic bullets and tear gas for the first time in the city's history. More than 19,000 security personnel were deployed in Toronto, and a...
1 min · The World Trade Organization (WTO) held its Third Ministerial Conference in Seattle from November 30 to December 3, 1999. Tens of thousands of protesters managed to halt the summit with nonviolent tactics (such as blocking roads to the meetings by sitting down in the street)...
4 min · June 2013, peaceful protests over the massive costs of bringing the World Cup to Brazil are met with violent repression by the state. Mirroring recent events in Turkey, what had started as relatively small protests turned into massive mobilizations as a result of police...
32 min · This short documentary tells the story of the occupation of Gezi Park, the eviction on July 15, 2013, and the protests that have continued in the aftermath. It includes interviews with many participants and footage never before seen. Since the end of May 2013, political...
17 min · The Democracy Now! team rushed down to Zuccotti Park in the middle of the night to report on the police crackdown on Occupy Wall Street. We were there until the early hours of the morning, witnessing the arrests in the streets in Lower Manhattan and the dismantling of the...
our comrades from Cairo · To all those in the United States currently occupying parks, squares and other spaces, your comrades in Cairo are watching you in solidarity. Having received so much advice from you about transitioning to democracy, we thought it’s our turn to pass on some advice. Indeed, we...
Astra Taylor · Last night, in what seems to be part of a coordinated crackdown on occupations across the country, Zuccotti Park was raided. Thousands of us who had subscribed to the text alert system, or who got emails or phone calls or panicked Twitter messages, went to Wall Street. But we...
Adam Federman · After a week of careful planning, environmentalists attending a tar sands resistance action camp in Oklahoma thought they had the element of surprise — but they would soon learn that their moves were being closely watched by law enforcement officials and TransCanada, the...
Naomi Wolf · It was more sophisticated than we had imagined: new documents show that the violent crackdown on Occupy last fall – so mystifying at the time – was not just coordinated at the level of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and local police. The crackdown, which...
Stephen D. Foster Jr. · A week ago, police fired rubber bullets, bean bags, and canisters into the crowd of protesters in Oakland. Their brutality almost cost Marine veteran Scott Olsen his life. And it turns out, the police used tactics that aren’t even allowed to be used in war zones. A former...
Nathan Goodman · Throughout the US government “shutdown,” Democratic politicians have compared their Republican rivals to “anarchists” and argued that the “shutdown” proves government necessary. A recent speech by US Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) on the Senate floor exemplifies this...
Reclaim Turtle Island · In Canada the HWY 11 Land Defenders are are fighting against fracking on land in Mi'kmaq Territory. An encampment successfully blockaded SWN seismic trucks and the police moved in to evict them. With arrests and an injunction in place resistance is becoming more...
Films For Action · Egypt's Mubarak regime today shut down Internet and cell phone communications before launching a violent crackdown against protesters.  Free Press has just discovered that one American company — Boeing-owned Narus of Sunnyvale, Calif. — has sold Egypt "Deep Packet...
Like us on Facebook?