Supporting the Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands

Dear fellow organizers in Maine,

As you some of you may know, on Friday, January 31 (the same day the FEIS for the Northern section of the Keystone XL was released), 3 women in Michigan were found guilty of trespassing and “resisting and obstructing an officer”, a felony charge that carries a maximum jail sentence of three years. The 3 women—Vicci Hamlin, Lisa Leggio, and Barb Carter of Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MI CATS), were arrested while blockading construction equipment being used to expand Enbridge’s Line 6B last July – the same tar sands pipeline which caused the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history when it leaked over one million gallons of tar sands bitumen into the Kalamazoo River in 2010.

I know how much many of us involved in resisting tar sands here in Maine are motivated by the desire for clean water and a possible future for the generations that will come after us. The following paragraph is from the MI CATS press release published after the guilty verdict:

Vicci Hamlin, who became a great grandmother Monday, expressed how for her and Lisa as parents, this is a necessity, stating “The threat that tar sands extraction poses to my children, grandchildren and now great grandchild requires me to act”.  Lisa Leggio, who will be a grandmother next week said, “I came to Michigan from New York, and fell in love with nature and the water. Seeing up-close the devastation that the 2010 tar sands spill caused to the Kalamazoo river and surrounding community, I think about my daughter and her unborn child. What are we leaving them? I did this for them, and we did this for everyone’s children”.

MI CATS and other grassroots tar sands resistance organizations across the country are asking people to show their solidarity with Vicci, Lisa, and Barb today at #NoKXL vigils.

Specific ideas for the organizers of vigils are:

  • Bring blank index cards for people to fill with messages of support (see instructions below about how to write to Vicci, Lisa, and Barb in jail) to send to them in jail. They are currently being held without bail ahead of their March 5 sentencing date.

 

  • Make a sign to be held during the vigil expressing support for Vicci, Lisa, and Barb (“Solidarity with MI CATS 3” ,“Vicci, Lisa, and Barb – We love You!” etc.)

 

  • Hand out flyers with information about Vicci, Lisa, and Barb to the folks at the vigil (flyer attached to this e-mail (in both DOC and PDF formats) feel free to alter,)

 

As we all know, the Keystone XL fight has received unprecedented attention and support from people across the globe, which is really exciting. At the same time it is very important to remember that, (as we know intimately with the Portland-Montreal pipeline fight here), the tar sands project has many tentacles grasping for control across the continent, and we need to act seriously in support of the many brave, dedicated people engaging in the defense of their homes and futures. Most of the other fights against the tar sands receive much less attention from the mainstream media and big climate NGOs (especially fights being led by grassroots groups and indigenous-led organizations), so we are asking people to highlight the fight in Michigan on this day when so many are gathering to express their commitment to stopping KXL North. (It is also important to note that indigenous-led resistance to the KXL North has also received much less attention than splashy big NGOs, and indigenous organizations are calling on folks organizing the #NoKXL vigils to honor their role today as well--check out this statement from Honor the Earth that has been developed in collaboration with the Oglala Sioux Nation, Owe Aku, and Protect the Sacred)

Thank you so much for pulling these vigils together! I know many of you are doing so in a short amount of time and with all the rest of your lives going on. As someone who is awaiting my own court date for anti-tar sands direct action highlighting the start-up of KXL South, it means a lot to me personally that the stories and actions of people engaging in action to stop the tar sands are told, honored, and that those people are not left behind.

In solidarity,

Sylvia (Stormwalker) Schlotterbeck

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Instructions for sending messages of support and solidarity to the MI CATS 3:

Plain text, handwritten messages (sorry, no pictures) on blank 4″x6″ index cards can be sent to:

Vickie Hamlin OR Lisa Leggio OR Barbara Carter (Please only one per card)
640 N. Cedar Street
Mason, MI 48854

IMPORTANT: Vicci’s name is spelled Vicci, however there have been several mix-ups with the state and they list it as Vickie Hamlin which is what you will have to use to write her.

If you have questions about sending in your solidarity message, or if you want to learn about other ways to support MI CATS, check out their website: http://www.michigancats.org/free-the-felines/

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 See this link for an information flyer regarding the MI CATS.