Extinction Rebellion Zenith Victory Garden Blockade
On Monday, April 22nd, people around the world were celebrating Earth Day by picking up trash, tending gardens, planting trees, and more. Meanwhile, in Portland, 11 individuals connected with The Extinction Rebellion, were getting arrested on Zenith Energy’s “Oil by Rail” terminal.
The arrests came 34 hours after protesters had been making garden beds covering Zenith Energy’s railroad tracks, and building tiny homes alongside them. Public outrage, which culminated to the blockade of Zenith Energy’s terminal, began in 2017;
in spite of a 2015 ban on the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure in Portland, Zenith purchased a site to export tar sands from Canada to Asia. To make matters worse, this year, Zenith used a permit filed in 2014 by a previous owner of the facility to increase its initial 12 cars to 44.
Among the protesters who were arrested, is a man named Ken Ward. PCC’s Sylvania Habitat Restoration Team invited Ken to attend their 23rd Earth Day Birthday. Despite having spent 8 hours in jail in the days preceding the event, he was kind enough to make an appearance. While enjoying a piece of cake, Ward gave a great talk about his activist work, and why he believes that direct action is the most effective way to create meaningful change and bring awareness to the severity of climate change.
Ward was featured in the film The Reluctant Radical, which explores his turbulent journey battling the fossil fuel industry. Ward has been arrested 3 previous times in defense of the climate. One of these arrests, was connected to the largest coordinated direct action ever, in which activists succeeded in temporarily shutting down a number of key tar sands oil pipelines coming in from Canada. Despite Ward’s often dangerous expressions of resistance, his record has remained clean as a result of the court’s inability to find his actions unwarranted.
On Sunday, April 28th, I went to the Zenith Victory Garden Blockade with the intention of interviewing Ken Ward for my podcast, “PCC, Sustain Me!” By the time I arrived, Ken and 13 others had already been arrested for the second time in less than a week. Even after the numerous arrests, Portlanders in association with the Extinction Rebellion plan to continue their occupation at Zenith Garden every Sunday for the month to follow. Beyond these local efforts, The Extinction Rebellion has been staging climate actions daily since April 15th. Already, these actions, staged both locally and globally, have gained the attention of mainstream media, corporations, and governments. Hopefully, large scale acts of resistance against climate change such as this one, will demonstrate that only so many people can be arrested before we finally acknowledge the necessity of building a paradigm in which economy and ecology are no longer mutually exclusive.