'Not a Symbol, a Signal': Wave of Direct Actions Points to Fossil-Free Future

On final day of two-week Break Free mobilization, demonstrations take place in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Turkey, and beyond
By Deirdre Fulton / commondreams.org
May 16, 2016
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'Not a Symbol, a Signal': Wave of Direct Actions Points to Fossil-Free Future
"While this action was symbolic, it wasn't just a symbol, it was a signal," said Break Free Albany organizer Marla Marcum. "It's a signal that business as usual is over." (Photo: Break Free/Brooke Anderson | Survival Media Agency/flickr/cc)

Mass arrests took place during the weekend's Break Free actions around the world, and more demonstrations were happening on Sunday, the final day of a global wave of actions calling for a just transition away from fossil fuels. 

More than 100 people were arrested Sunday at a coal mine in Germany, the site of a three-day mobilization that saw close to 4,000 participants total—"unprecedented in Europe," noted 350 Europe, which released this video summing up the protest:

Meanwhile, in Anacortes, Washington, 52 people were arrested early Sunday morning when police raided the Break Free encampment and blockade of the train tracks leading to nearby oil refineries. 

A press statement from organizers noted that there is "No word yet on charges for those responsible for the climate crisis. Shell and Tesoro officials are still at large."

Oil train blockaders in Albany, New York, called it a day around midnight on Saturday, after having successfully shut down crude oil train traffic in the city for nearly 12 hours. Police officers in Albany had opted not to make arrests, though five people were taken into custody earlier in the day.

"While this action was symbolic, it wasn't just a symbol, it was a signal," said Break Free Albany organizer Marla Marcum. "It's a signal that business as usual is over. The campaign to ban bomb trains will continue, and our pursuit of a swift and just transition away from fossil fuels will equal the urgency of the climate change crisis we face. We'll be back."

Break Free actions continued Sunday in Turkey, where thousands demonstrated against new coal plants; near Chicago, where people from around the Midwest will protest toxic oil and gas infrastructure that puts lives and livelihoods at risk; and Washington, D.C., where the demand is to end offshore drilling and keep fossil fuels in the ground. The 88,200-gallon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico this week gave that call additional urgency, wrote Greenpeace's Ryan Schleeter on Saturday. 

Follow the actions on Twitter:


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