Updates on Sabal Trail Resistance

STR and the Fight to Stop the Southeast Market Pipelines

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Hundreds march through Suwannee River State Park to drill site, Jan 14 2017

Over the last month many of you responded to the call Sabal Trail Resistance (STR) put out to mobilize around the Suwannee River pipeline drilling site over the MLK Day weekend. Thousands helped to spread our calls to action, hundreds made the trek out to blockade construction and 48 organizations thus farfrom national to localvowed to lend their support to this effort.

STR blockade at Suwannee River.jpg
Mass civil disobedience blocks entrance to pipeline drill site on Suwannee River, Jan 14 2017

Jan 14 was the largest mobilization to date against Sabal Trail and the Southeast Market Pipelines Project, and despite differences of opinion on strategy and tactics, we presented a unified front against the pipeline pushers that continues to be talked about, as people keep sharing stories, photos and videos from that weekend, a month later.

But successful displays of resistance don’t appear from thin air. Much organizing work goes into building moments like that. For example, in the lead up to the MLK Day weekend events, we:
  • hosted multiple workshops, where over a hundred people got training on the strategic use of direct action;
  • invited a founding organizer from the Sacred Stone Camp in North Dakota to give talks about the experience of watching the camp grow from ten people to ten thousand;
  • organized group hikes to the drill site;
  • coordinated with lawyers from Southern Legal Council for free speech protection and legal support;
  • assisted with email blasts to the memberships and social media base of large activist networks such as Rising Tide, Power Shift, Greenpeace, 350.org, and Food & Water Watch.
  • generated local/national/int’l media coverage about the pipeline and civil disobedience to stop it (Gainesville Sun, Jacksonville Times Union and Tallahassee Democrat, The Guardian, to name a few, as well as multiple TV stations in the region.);
  • kept a social media buzz about the MLK weekend of action, including the creation of a powerful short video through Nomad’s Land;
  • dunnellon-sabal-791x1024-fine-print-illustration-by-sydney-martin
    Illustration by Sydney Martin, from The Fine Print article on Sabal Trail construction in Dunnellon, FL.

    written or assisted with articles in multiple independent publications (printed and online), including Earth First! Journal, the Iguana, It’s Going Down and The Fine Print;

  • circulated over 3000 flyers across North/Central Florida; and
  • supported other groups in protests and outreach events all across the state, including the Dec 29 multi-city action and the die-in/banner-hang at the State Capitol.

We mention these things to illustrate the effort that goes into movement organizing. We built from the foundation of over three years of community organizing against this pipeline, and we continue to do so.

Since that weekend, we’ve:

  • generated more media coverage and social media buzz;
  • fund-raised to cover bonds for people arrested during a civil disobedience action on January 16, and turned out support at the courthouse and jail for those arrestees;
  • sent support to Tallahassee for the “Rally to Hold Regulatory Agencies Accountable”;
  • provided support for roving bands of anti-pipeline activists;
  • spoken at various community events and meetings;
  • planned for legal proceedings surrounding 25 arrests of water protectors, including exploring the use of “necessity defense” trials (which had a recent victory in a Seattle civil disobedience court case);
  • sent STR outreach material to DC for the inauguration protests; and
  • coordinated with the Red Warrior Society tour along the East Coast of the U.S. (Feb 17 in Gainesville, 6 p.m. at the Civic Media Center.)

Following the Suwannee River mobilization, we began planning for next steps in counties to the south (such as Levy, Citrus, Sumter, etc,).

dunnellon-march-and-rally-jan-28-2017
Crowd gathered in Dunnellon before Jan 28 march. Photo by Alan Youngblood / Ocala Star Banner

In particular, STR was part of a successful march in Dunnellon on January 28, rallying over 150 people to show opposition to the pipeline in a community that is directly threatened by it, including construction adjacent to a local school complex.

Experiencing that energy in Dunnellon inspired a big move for us. After 3 months of home-basing from Gilchrist/Suwannee Counties, we have decided to shift energy south.

This week we kick-off the opening of a campaign house in downtown Dunnellon, at 11719 N. William Street., and we invite you to join us there. Our house-warming get-together is this Saturday, Feb 18, 4 – 6pm. Find out more via Facebook @WaterIsLifeHouse Or give us a call at 352-445-5760

wil-house-flyer

Later this month, we will be hosting another action camp, this time in the Richloam Wildlife Management Area of the Green Swamp. [details in link]

This will be followed by another mass action on Feb 26, converging at Coleman prison and caravaning to a protest site in the region [TBA].

And there is plenty more to come. Here’s a glimpse of what we have in store for coming months:

  • March 10 – Statewide Student Walk-Out in solidarity with students in schools along the route,
  • March 17 – Divest and Disrupt! coordinated day of bank exit actions targeting Bank of America
  • April 1 – Day of Mass Civil Disobedience Against Sabal Trail [location TBA]

We look forward to getting you off this computer and out into the streets, springs and swamps to join us!

For the water,
STR coordinating team
———————
What is STR? We are a loose-knit crew of organizers who began working together in October 2016 during the Sabal Trail pipeline drilling under the Santa Fe River in Gilchrist County. We’ve continued to build resistance along the route of the Southeast Market Pipelines, and although we have chosen to operate informally, a group of us are beginning to have regular open meetings at the Water Is Life campaign house in Dunnellon. Call us or come find us!
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