In the past, we, the Portland Raging Grannies, have expressed our thanks to Mayor Charlie Hales for making the right decision about rejecting fossil fuel infrastructure in Portland. On a separate and equally important issue, we are in opposition to recent events regarding the police contract. Specifically, we are in strong disagreement with Mayor Hales’ and the City Council’s decision to push through the Portland Police contract without due consideration of the concerns voiced by organizations such as Black Lives Matter and Don’t Shoot PDX. We also are deeply dismayed by tactics, such as the use of pepper spray and excessive force, taken by the Portland Police against the City Hall demonstrators.
On September 17, we participated in the Portland Tenants United event at the Portland City Hall. Portland Tenants United is dedicated to protecting the rights of renters in the city of Portland. The September 17 event was held on the anniversary of the city’s declaration of a housing emergency. The goal of the event was to raise awareness for the need for rent control in a city where rapidly rising rental rates are making safe housing out of reach for many.
The video is of us dancing. Our message is that we are “One Tribe” and we have to take care of one another. After our performance, we were honored by the many young people who joined in and learned the dance.
One of our Grannies has spent time with the Lummi, and after going to several events (a fundraiser, a canoe launch) with the Native Americans who are visiting from Standing Rock, she was invited to read a letter from her Lummi friends stressing that they welcome our (white) support for this greater cause. Working together peacefully was the message of the event.
Additionally, one of our members called the mayor’s office at the beginning of the week, asking that Portland join the other cities who are standing in support of Standing Rock. On Wednesday the City Council voted unanimously to do so, and at the event, a member of Mayor Hales’s staff picked up our homemade signs to take to Standing Rock with the proclamation of Portland’s support.
Despite the joint statement by the Department of Justice, the Department of the Army, and the Department of the Interior stating that construction should be stopped “until it can determine whether it will need to reconsider any of its previous decisions,” we know the work of the water protectors will continue. To continue helping those efforts, a member of our gaggle is collecting supplies to be sent to Standing Rock on Saturday.
Sept. 9 at 10 am at Waterfront Park, the traditional NAYA (Native American Youth and Family Center) Family Canoe will be arriving on a mission of cultural interchange and education and in support of Standing Rock.
Sept. 9 at Noon at Pioneer Square there will be a solidarity rally.
This post was originally supposed to recap our experiences at the 2016 International Raging Grannies Uncon(vention) held in Seattle. However, the events unfolding at North Dakota’s Standing Rock Sioux reservation in response to the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline have taken precedence.
The Standing Rock Sioux have been engaged in a nonviolent protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline. The pipeline is intended to transport oil obtained via hydraulic fracturing (fracking) from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale basin. If allowed, the pipeline will cross farms, natural areas, and the ancestral lands of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. It will cross under the Missouri River just above the Sioux lands. The Standing Rock Sioux has filed a lawsuit and requested a court-ordered injunction. The lawsuit holds that the pipeline is a violation of the National Historic Preservation Act.
On September 9, 2016, federal judges are set to rule on this lawsuit. The lawsuit requests that the tribe be better consulted before a portion of the pipeline is drilled beneath the Missouri River. Part of the risk is that a leak in the pipeline would affect the tribal water supply.
“In 2014, the proposed route of DAPL went through Bismarck, the capital of North Dakota, with roughly 61,000 residents, 92 percent of them white. After the Corps determined that the pipeline could contaminate drinking water, it was rerouted to pass by Standing Rock. “That’s environmental racism,” said Kandi Mossett, of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation in North Dakota and an organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network.” From http://www.outsideonline.com/2111206/whats-happening-standing-rock
What is unprecedented in this situation is that the protest is bringing together a large number of tribes in the interest of protecting the water and the earth. Members of the Black Lives Matter movement have also joined efforts at the camps. This is an historic coming together to address environmental racism.
“We need our non-Native allies to continue to lock arms with us. We need everyone. Because we can’t do this alone.”
One of the things we learned at the Uncon was how we, as people of whiteness, can best support the efforts of people of color. We have been told that we can contribute through monetary support, by bearing witness, and by being on the front lines in solidarity with our brothers and sisters of color. To that end, we, the Portland Raging Grannies, have made a donation to the Standing Rock Sioux to help them sustain their protest. Individual members of our gaggle have also contributed. We are also working with other gaggles throughout the United States and Canada to make September 9 a day of solidarity against the exploitation of the earth for the gain of fossil fuel companies. We are hoping that the federal judge will give us cause to celebrate, but we are prepared to dig in for more protests should the ruling go the other way.
In keeping with our mission of supporting peace, social justice, human rights and environmental protection, we, the Portland Raging Grannies, stand with the Native Peoples gathered on the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota who are there protecting the Water….the Water that is Life…the Water that sustains us all, the Water that is more important than money. In this instance, it is another pipeline to carry Bakken crude oil beneath and across the Missouri River, which is the immediate threat to not only their lives but to lives of all those millions of people who live downstream. We honor these peaceful warriors and thank them for their protection of the earth and all people.
As plans solidify, we will keep you informed.
In the meantime, there are immediate actions you can take.
- Send a message to President Obama.
- Contact your media outlets to encourage them to do a better of job of covering this action.
- Donate to the Legal Defense Fund
- Donate to general funds to support the action.
Here are some links for more information about the Dakota Access Pipeline and the protests being led by the Standing Rock Sioux.
- Standing Rock and the Forgotten History of Native American Activism
- Camp of the Sacred Stones
- Camp of the Sacred Stones Facebook page
- There are reports of protesters being set upon by dogs and tear gas released by a private security company. Video report. Chicago Tribune report.
- Dakota Pipeline Was Approved by Army Corps over Objections of Three Federal Agencies
- What’s Happening in Standing Rock
- We’re Not Going Home: Inside the North Dakota Oil Pipeline Protest (Video)
- Where Movements Meet: Black Lives Matter Organizers Visit #NoDAPL
- #NoDAPL Solidarity for information on the Global Weeks of Action running from September 3-17.
- Northwest Tribes Join ND Sioux to Oppose Pipeline
- Totem Carries Unifying Spirit into Protest Camp
- You can also find information if you do a online search on #NoDAPL.
It’s been a busy spring for us. We’ve been active in actions against fossil fuels and oil trains. This includes testifying at hearings and being at the Break Free Pacific Northwest Action in Anacortes, WA.
We’ve also participated in the PrideNW weekend by participating in the Pride Parade, Dyke March, and we cheered on members of our Trans community as they stepped off for the Trans March.
Prepping for our performance at PrideNW Parade
More recently, we commemorated the arrest of early birth control activist Margaret Sanger in Portland. Photos courtesy of Jodi Darby.
Although we weren’t there in an official capacity, a few of our members were at the event held in memory of the Lac Mégantic tragedy in which an oil train exploded killing 47 people and destroying a town in Quebec, Canada. This event was especially poignant given the recent derailment of an oil train in Mosier, OR.
Ali, one of our members who attended Break Free PNW, reported that there were about 3,000 people there. The Portland Grannies were in good company with Grannies from Seattle, Corvallis, Eugene, and Salem. We are so proud of the involvement of these groups in raising awareness of the need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.
Here are a few more pictures from the action.
Our members are participating in the Break Free PNW event in Anacortes, WA. Break Free is a world-wide event spanning May 13-15. Protests in Canada, the United States, Brazil, Turkey, Nigeria, South Africa, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand have joined the call to “Break free from fossil fuels.” Break Free is an initiative of the US climate activist group 350.org.
The PNW Break Free actions are taking place near the Tesoro and Shell refineries, the largest unaddressed point source of carbon pollution in the Pacific Northwest.
I had an interesting conversation with Hales’ chief of staff the other day. I pressed him on what it was exactly that got Hales to change his mind on Pembina, a change of mind that has had ripple effects, leading to the groundbreaking fossil fuel export policy. You know what he said? It was these grandmas that kept beating him up all over Portland, he told me. They were relentless, he said, and Hales finally had to reconsider. So, thank you, Raging Grannies! For all you do for all of us. You’re our secret weapon!