Earth First! held a weekend gathering in the Manistee National Forest near Free Soil over the 4th of July Weekend. They concluded that gathering by holding a protest in front of Attorney General Bill Schuette’s Midland home on the afternoon of July 6, 2016; demonstrating against the Embridge Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac.
If you have never heard of Earth First!, here is a brief description of what they do:
Earth First! formed in 1979, in response to an increasingly corporate, compromising and ineffective environmental community. It is not an organization, but a movement. There are no “members” of EF!, only Earth First!ers. We believe in using all of the tools in the toolbox, from grassroots and legal organizing to civil disobedience and monkeywrenching. When the law won’t fix the problem, we put our bodies on the line to stop the destruction. Earth First!’s direct-action approach draws attention to the crises facing the natural world, and it saves lives.
According to a story posted today on the Fen Valley Earth First! blog, the demonstration made up of 60 people hung banners between trees in the Schuette’s front lawn and staged a mock funeral. There is no mention of banging on windows and doors of the home, as reported in the Detroit News, and this photo shows some protesters on the sidewalk in front of the house playing drums. The blog promises a video is coming soon.
One protester, called Frida, was quoted in the Earth First blog:
“If public officials continue to threaten our safety, then we will continue to threaten their security.
AG Schuette’s wife was the only one at home at the time, and she says the protesters were banging on doors and windows so hard she thought they were going to break in.
— Benjamin (@benayer) June 21, 2016
Enbridge Line 5 is 63 years old. Despite Enbridge’s claims the pipeline is monitored constantly, the people of Michigan want it shut down after the rupture of Line 6B in 2010. That disaster dumped nearly a million gallons of crude oil into the Kalamazoo River causing the worst inland oil disaster in the United States. If a similar rupture were to happen to Line 5, it would spill millions of gallons of oil into the Straits of Michigan, affecting Lakes Huron and Michigan, and all of the rivers and tributaries that feed into the lakes. The Sierra Club, World Wildlife Federation, local tribal groups and many other Michiganians demand that Enbridge Line 5 be shut down immediately.
Earth First!’s methods are confrontational and designed to create a physical presence with law enforcement when they believe the environment is threatened. Protesting is acceptable, banging on the doors and windows of a private home and making the people inside feel threatened is not. There will likely be more about this story as information becomes available, and the truth about what happened at the Schuette house in Midland will be known.