By Scott T. Starbuck, SanDiego350
(Originally published in the San Diego Free Press on 2/19/2017)
Reuters reported that on October 11, activists in four states “shook the North American energy industry.” An appreciative audience at First Church of the Brethren greeted them Monday with $2,300 in donations for their legal funds, repeated applause, and a standing ovation honoring their vision and courage. A donation link has been set up for those who want to support Valve Turners. Of the group of five, Emily Johnston, Annette Klapstein, Leonard Higgins, and Michael Foster were present and spoke at the event. Ken Ward, the fifth member and first to face trial, was unable to attend due to preparing for a retrial after a jury in Mt. Vernon, Washington, refused to convict him on February 1. San Diego was the last California stop on this leg of the Valve Turners Speaking Tour that will take them from Pacific to Atlantic in effort to awaken consciences of citizens to respond to climate reality. The Valve Turners’ personal risk and message of nonviolent direct action has gained press locally at the UT, nationally in The Nation, and on Democracy Now!
Specifically, all of the five, as well as four of their videographers, are facing felony charges and prison sentences up to 51 years for coordinated actions which, according to former lawyer / current Valve Turner Annette Klapstein, “shut down all the major tar sands pipelines coming into the US across four states, in solidarity with [ . . .] brothers and sisters at Standing Rock who are struggling to stop the DAPL Pipeline and to call attention to the catastrophic climate emergency which the fossil fuel companies and their accomplices have created.” To highlight the seriousness of the situation, Ward, a former deputy director of Greenpeace USA, emphasized in a recent Willamette Week article, “The world is ending. Act freaked out.” Ward clarified his motive for shutting down Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline near Anacortes, Washington: “In five years we have to stop all new exploration for all fossil fuels, and we have to stop burning all coal, and we have to stop burning all tar sands.” Ward said street protests will never achieve these goals so he feels civil disobedience is the only viable option now to preserve a livable Earth. [Read more…]