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The largest industrial project on the face of the earth, Alberta, Canada’s Tar Sands(Photo originally posted here)
In Honor of Struggles Against the Extraction Industry Everywhere
In Memory of the Workers Whose Lives Were Taken By BP Two Years Ago,
Join Us In Saying:
“CLEAN AIR AND WATER FOR ALL”
“TAKE BACK EARTH DAY!”
LET’S SHUT DOWN THE TAR SANDS AND BLOCKADE AN OIL REFINERY!
What: A festival of resistance and alternatives to the fossil fuel economy, in the shadow of the Houston Valero refinery, culminating in a refinery blockade.
When: April 19th – 24th
Where: Hartmann Park, Manchester Neighborhood, Houston, TX
Why: The Alberta Tar Sands project is uprooting and poisoning Indigenous people in Canada while destroying the ancient boreal forests that are their home. The huge amount of carbon released will seriously worsen global climate change. The Keystone XL Pipeline will take oil from one of the most ecologically devastating projects on the face of the planet to Houston.
In Houston it will be refined by Valero and other companies. These refineries are surrounded by working-class neighborhoods throughout the Gulf, bringing cancer-causing toxins directly into their backyards. The majority of the Tar Sands oil processed in these refineries will be shipped overseas, ensuring that North American oil workers and those whose rights and lives have been uprooted by these companies won’t even see any long-term benefit for themselves.
Meanwhile, two years after the Deep Water Horizon explosion that killed 11 workers and devastated the communities of the Gulf, BP has had a record year of profits. BP has escaped justice yet again in its recent legal victory against the shrimpers and fishermen who they’ve put out of work and the families of the workers who died under their watch.
We invite those who oppose the Tar Sands Project and who want clean air, water and soil for all to come down to Houston for a festival of resistance and alternatives to the fossil fuel economy. Let’s continue to build the power of our communities, amplify the voices of those most affected by companies like Valero, and join together in nonviolent direct action to blockade a refinery.
Friday, April 20th will be the beginning of a historic escalation in the battle for our rights to clean air and water, the struggle to protect our communities, and the fight to stop companies from destroying the planet.
We plan to wake up an oil refinery Saturday and Sunday too, escalating our blockade as necessary. And we will use our rights to public assembly and protest—rights that have been under increasing attack.
Waves of support will be welcome and needed.
How You Can Participate:
We need it all. There are as many levels of involvement and risk as there are individuals, affinity groups, and organizations willing to participate.
Not everyone will want to risk arrest by participating in the refinery blockade. That’s OK. However, many people are willing and able to take that risk. We appreciate all levels of commitment.
There will be room and plans for those who wish to cooperate with the police, and there will be room and plans for those that wish to engage in jail solidarity tactics. Come prepared to tell us what you want to do.
Contribute to the Festival: Anyone who has a desire and ability to teach a class or hold a training as part of this event should contact us. Want to present a workshop or training? Please contact our Recruitment, Training, and Personnel Committee at: otmrecruitmentandtraining[at]riseup[dot]net
Offer Material Support: Donate through our website, offer a rideshare or bring a bus, bring medical supplies, donate or bring food, come prepared to cook food, bring educational materials like zines and books! Able to contribute materials for this campaign? Please contact the Logistics Committee at: otmlogistics[at]riseup[dot]net Able to contribute monetary support? Please contact the Fundraising Committee at: otmfundraising[at]riseup[dot]net
Be the Media: Bring your own video camera or audio recording equipment, blog on site, bring portable wireless devices, write articles, embed reporters with us! Interested in contributing to the media team? Contact our Communications and Outreach Committee at: otmcommunications[at]riseup[dot]net
Be the Blockade/Bring the Blockade: Come prepared with others to participate in non-violent direct action. Once you arrive, we will train you in the tactics and strategy we plan to use to sustain this blockade. Bring puppets, bring inflatables, bring signs, bring anything that could be useful.
Come in caravans, bring your friends.Have questions about joining the blockade? Contact the Recruitment, Training, and Personnel Committee at: otmrecruitmentandtraining[at]riseup[dot]net
–The Occupy the Machine Coalition
Have general questions, comments, or not sure where to direct your query? Contact us and let us know at occupythemachine[at]riseup[dot]net!
Our Bodies Will Be Our Demand
Occupy the Machine is an ad hoc umbrella group using serious, sustained direct action campaigns to shut down major targets that destroy the land and exploit humans, permanently.
Subscribe to this website to be notified when the target is announced. And, pass it on…Occupy the Machine has started.
The Occupy Movement is beautiful. We support it and though we are small, we are participating all over the country. We invite all occupiers to read, give feedback, and if you feel moved to do so to present this at a General Assembly or committee meeting near you.
We invite you to imagine, as many of you already probably have, if thousands of people occupied local refineries, roads, ports, oil and mining extraction sites, etc. – in other words, imagine if people occupied the locations where the 1% destroy the land and exploit humans, all for profit.
Imagine their stock prices falling, their cash flow being interrupted, their ability to get loans and/or expand “production” – a euphemism for converting living beings into dead products – finished.
Imagine if we were able to stop them, stop the 1%. Literally. Not symbolically. We think it can be done if we all do it together. We think it can be done if we all figure out how to do it and if we are willing to make the necessary sacrifices, together.
Here’s one way we could start:
Though we are all part of the 99%, not all of us are impacted the same way.
First and foremost we recognize that nonindigenous people in the US are occupying stolen land in an ongoing genocide that has lasted for centuries.
We affirm our responsibility to stand with indigenous communities who want support, to risk our lives, and give everything we can to protect the land without which none of us have anything.
We also recognize and stand in solidarity with communities of people of color who are also disproportionately impacted by environmental racism, capitalism, and a system of white supremacy.
We recognize that women combat a system of sexism and patriarchy, and we commit to supporting the struggle for gender equality, which is the basis of equality for all.
Our focus will be to stand in solidarity with local indigenous communities, people of color communities, and women in struggle—ask if they would like support and what that support would look like, and share some version of this overall strategy.
Then, based on this information and in collaboration with local communities if all agree, each Occupy General Assembly would decide what they want to target. Or they would call on people to form local affinity groups and those groups would decide the local targets on which they would focus.
Many local affinity groups could conceivably attempt to occupy multiple targets. Strategically, however, it will likely be more successful if occupiers focus on one or two major targets – such as Tar Sands refineries, fracking, coal plants etc. The idea is that if we can successfully shut down a few major targets all over the country, one or two targets per region, people more broadly will see the power they all have and then more targets can be taken on.
To be clear, what we’re envisioning here would mean a massive escalation. It would mean hundreds of thousands of people all over the country leaving behind school, jobs, family, and comfort, to really go for it. To not settle for less than victory. To leave behind symbolic action for good.
One obstacle to making this happen, however, is that as soon as we announce where we would occupy, they would come and would likely remove us immediately, especially if we don’t have enough people there. They won’t want the 1% to lose a damn penny. So, we don’t tell them where we’re going ahead of time. But if we don’t say where we’re going ahead of time, then we can’t get people out by the thousands – and we’re gonna need thousands of people to make this work.
So, here’s an idea: We announce, big time, that some of us are planning on occupying the sites of direct exploitation and destruction. And we say that we’ll need as many of the people who love the Occupy Movement and who are sick and tired of being sick and tired, to come out decisively and to not plan on going home for as long as it takes.
We’d ask all those people to start preparing right away, have their stuff packed, tents, food, money, and a plan for how they can participate and be able to stay for as long as it takes (we’d encourage people to ask their community to support them so they could go for as long it takes) so that as soon as the local Occupy groups would announce targets, perhaps through text messages and other means, those people would be ready to go to the targets at a moment’s notice. This kind of tactic has been used successfully in the past to get lots of people to a location for a blockade while keeping the cops on the run and always one step behind. If we can get enough people to the different locations before the state gets there, we have a chance at holding it until even more people can come.
If there are enough of us who are willing to make the necessary commitment and sacrifice, we believe we need nothing more than our bodies, community support, and the will to keep going to:
Occupy the Machine – Stop the 1%, Literally
Here are some other points that could be helpful:
1) Start Together – The key as we see it would be to start on the same day so that they’re overwhelmed with people going to different locations. They may seem all-powerful sometimes, but they can’t be everywhere at once.
2) Sustained Blockades – this would mean doing what Occupy does so well, stay, day after day after day after day… as long as we can go. For every person they drag away to jail, we must bring ten more to replace them every day. We will cost them as much money as we can with our bodies and our determination. Blockaders will blockade both inside and outside of targets when possible. And they will blockade roads and ports to stop supply lines.
3) Demonstrators/Community Encampments – for those who cannot blockade, the role of the community will be crucial. Demonstrators encamped on the target’s land or nearby will provide support to the blockaders and will be crucial to success.
4) Building Communities of Nonviolent Resistance – For those involved in this who lack a strong, unified community, we must very deliberately build the concrete infrastructure for a community of resistance to support these struggles. This is already happening in many ways. But a systematic approach to creating networks of people who are devoted to supporting occupiers could be the key to success. This will mean legal defense funds and a network of lawyers who will work pro bono or for a reduced fee. This will also mean arranging transition housing – places for people to stay after they are released if they are jailed for long periods of time. It will mean relentless fundraising so that those who lose their jobs, take significant time off from work, or who go to prison for long periods will have funds to support themselves and provide for their families. It will mean creating free medical care networks so that people in the movement will have access to health care. It will mean creating food networks to provide food for those who are protesting day after day, and for families of those who are imprisoned or lose their jobs. It will mean creating networks of childcare. It will mean creating a transportation network, including carpools, donations of frequent flyer miles, movement cars and vans, caravans, and buses, to be available for the kind of sustained civil disobedience actions we will need. And last and most important it will mean simple companionship – the incalculable gift of camaraderie and friendship, the healing nature of laughter and hugs, the deliberate creation of a network of communities of love spread far and wide – healers, body workers, artists, musicians, actors, facilitators, counselors, those called by spirit, nonviolent communicators, restorative justice facilitators – all of us will be needed – to see us all through the hard times that will come if we do this kind of sustained direct action.
5) Jail Solidarity – rather than trying to construct civil disobedience actions so people spend the least amount of time in jail and cooperate with the police and court system to the full extent, we will follow the lead of those who have come before us. Instead, those who can, will use jail solidarity as a tactic. Jail solidarity means that those who get arrested will not bring identification with them, won’t give their name, and will not cooperate while in jail. As more and more people are arrested, the jailers and those they protect will not know what to do. At first they will threaten, try to divide, offer deals, or even beat people or put them in solitary confinement to break their wills. But those who will get arrested will know this going in and will commit to maintaining their solidarity. They can’t jail us all and if we don’t cooperate the system will not work, if there are thousands of us. Their actions will further highlight the illegitimacy and cruelty of this system that lets the CEO of BP walk free but will jail and do worse to those who are only trying to protect life. Jail solidarity combined with more arrests, demonstrations, encampments, community involvement, and a network of communities of nonviolent resistance offering material support are unstoppable.
6) Escalation: A Promise – Too often when we don’t succeed, we don’t escalate. Too often when they escalate their attacks against the planet and all living beings, we don’t escalate. (Have you noticed that all of our victories are temporary and defensive, and all our losses permanent and offensive?) No more. If our actions do not succeed, we promise to escalate. We will regroup, reorganize, and go for more than before, risking more and holding nothing back. We promise they will lose more money and we will get stronger and fight harder.
This is our chance. We can use our energy and love to stop the 1% who are literally killing us, stealing from us, and destroying the only home we have. Our bodies will be our demands. And with our bodies, we will stop the 1% together, permanently.
These are just thoughts. Not a plan. But we hope it’s the start of a conversation about how we can do some version of this. The 1% don’t really own or control anything. They do what they do because they have guns and we allow them to. But that can all change.
With love and resistance,
Occupy the Machine
Click here to download this document as a pamphlet to distribute anywhere.
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Contact Occupy the Machine via email: occupythemachine[at]riseup[dot]net
Calling all Occupy The Machine friends and allies!
Our campaign is going to need serious funding for training, equipment, and other logistical needs. We need your help to move forward with one aspect of our fundraising campaign: organize fundraisers in YOUR local
We welcome direct donations from individuals. You could approach local groups, clubs, or community groups on our behalf and ask them to donate to us. If you need a fundraising letter, or have one to share, please get in touch with OTM Fundraising.
The fundraising committee is also asking you to consider planning and carrying out fundraising events like these:
-Speaking gigs at community centers, activist spaces, or local
colleges–harness the power of clubs and honarariums for speakers.
(Some speakers may available via Skype.)
Keep in mind that if your group chooses to do so, you can split any funds you raise between your local efforts and Occupy The Machine. Please contact OTM Fundraising (otmfundraising[at]riseup[dot]net) if you want to plan an event.
Thank you so much for your support!