Eight young adults were arrested yesterday after they glued their hands together with cyanoacrylate adhesive during a sit-in protest at TransCanada offices in Westborough, a Central Massachusetts town about 28 miles (45.47 km) west of Boston.
This direct action against TransCanada was one of six this same day across the US. Protests also took place at TransCanada offices in Milwaukee, WI and in two locations in Houston, TX. In Maine, activists targeted TD Bank, an important financier for Keystone XL, while people in Detroit, MI went after Chase bank, another major source of money for the project. The protests are part of a nationwide week of action against the tar sands pipeline that is snaking its way across North America.
The people arrested at the Massachusetts sit-in range in age from 20 to 22 and are students or graduates of local universities including Brandeis, Boston University, Harvard, Tufts, and University of New Hampshire. Their names are Emily Edgerly, Devyn Powell, Lisa Purdy, Shea Riester, Ben Thompson, Benjamin Trolio, Dorian Williams and Alli Welton. They’ve posted bios about themselves online.
While members of the group have said they acted independently, all are affiliated with 350 Massachusetts and some have connections with Students for a Just and Stable Future (SJSF), an organization described on their website as “a student network fighting to ensure a just and stable future for our generation and the generations to come that are threatened by runaway global warming.”
They entered the building at 2 pm. A post from Chris Faraone describes how they “marched up to the energy behemoth’s third floor office, sat in a circular formation with their backs touching, and began to click-in. By 2:10, crew members were fully chained and glued to one another, with fast-drying adhesive dripping from their hands and their bike locks.” A contradictory report from someone involved with the action says they did not apply glue to their locks although that was their original plan.
They were inside until a few minutes after 5 pm, having successfully locked down the office until close of business. By 6 pm, the protestors were at the police station, some of them still attached by chains.
Later, a comment on Facebook from 350 Massachusetts assured, “Students are now in jail being processed. Their chains and superglue have been removed.” Another post later in the night reported, “Students released!” The Boston Globe reported that they each paid $40 bail and that nail polish remover intended to dissolve the glue wasn’t really needed.
Marla Marcum, an activist involved behind the scenes, told me that the protestors were charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct and that the Boston Globe report of “disturbing the peace” is incorrect. Marcum said that the police thanked them all for being so positive and cheerful when released and added, “They were the nicest group of police I ever experienced. We told them we would be coming back…one said with a big smile on his face, ‘You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.'”
The protestors will face arraignment in Westborough District Court at 8:30 am tomorrow and have issued a statement that begins:
Today we stand together as representatives of a desperate generation who have been forced into this position by the reckless and immoral behavior of fossil fuel corporations such as TransCanada. Our political leaders have failed countless times to stand up to the tyranny of fossil fuel giants and take the necessary steps to solve the climate crisis. Their failures have disrupted and destroyed millions of lives.
This text regarding the January 7 action will be updated as more facts are available. I’m expecting some phonecalls, and tonight starting 6 pm at First Church Cambridge (11 Garden Street, Harvard Square) there’s a gathering that includes a 350 Massachusetts meeting and preparations for the big protests taking place later this month in conjunction with Tar Sands Free Northeast. It looks like some of the arrestees will be there, and I’ll try to have some of them on Banned in Boston this Thursday to say more about what happened and why.
In the meanwhile, please donate to the fund that helps make attention-getting actions like this possible.