We will not be intimidated! Free the Enbridge 3!
On January 31st, three peaceful activists with the Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MI CATS) were found guilty of all charges stemming from a protest against Enbridge pipeline. Vicci Hamlin, Lisa Leggio, and Barb Carter each faces 2-3 years in jail, on charges of trespassing and resisting and obstructing an officer.
Supporters are deeply saddened that after deliberation for over 10 hours the verdict returned as guilty of all counts. The jury was split most of this time, returning to the courtroom several times for clarification. Sentencing was scheduled for March 5th and the defendants’ bail was revoked and immediately taken into custody.
On January 15th when a denied motion to quash was heard by Judge Collette, he told the MI CATS that they would not be allowed to argue that their actions were "environmentally necessary". Collette said, "If there is somebody leaking oil on a piece of property and you race out in the yard, and you go in and you stop it, and they charge you with trespassing, I’d throw that case out in a heartbeat. That’s what I think of as “Environmental Necessity." The judge obviously does not understand the severity of the looming climate crisis and that unjust laws allow for the destruction of communities and public health so corporations like Enbridge can maximize their profit. Moreover, the outcome of the case was especially discerning since Judge Collette previously stated that he wanted to make an example out of the three protesters.
This action in which Lisa, Barb, and Vicci were a part of, was not only aimed at stopping the expansion of Enbridge tar sands pipelines before the next disaster, it was also to stand in solidarity with First Nations land being turned into a sacrifice zones to mine tar sands. They used their positions of relative privilege to support communities currently being poisoned in Detroit and others because of extraction industries that put profit before people. Their actions were nothing less than necessary.
Vicci Hamlin, who became a great grandmother Monday, expressed how for her and Lisa as parents, this is a necessity, stating " The threat that tar sands extraction poses to my children, grandchildren and now great grandchild requires me to act". Lisa Leggio, will be a grandmother next week said, " I came to Michigan from New York, and fell in love with nature and the water. Seeing up-close the devastation that the 2010 tar sands spill caused to the Kalamazoo river and surrounding community, I think about my daughter and her unborn child. What are we leaving them? I did this for them, and we did this for everyone’s children".
Prosecuting attorney Danielle Dixon and Judge Collette forbad the defense to mention many of the reasons why defendants were taking this action. Such as, the 2010 Kalamazoo oil spill of Line 6B, the largest on-land oil spill in US history that still is needing cleanup, past its deadline. On Thursday, Barb Carter was silenced by Judge William Collette for mentioning that she lived 3 miles away from the Marathon Tar Sands refinery which affects her ability to breath when entering or leaving her home. The judge also personally questioned her after both prosecution and defense questioned her.
The MI CATS has vowed to continue peaceful resistance despite the sentence imposed. As long as Enbridge is attempting to pump toxic tar sands into refineries, principally located in communities of color, MI CATS will be standing alongside anyone who wishes to stop them. The charges used have historically been used to disrupt communities and incarcerate mainly people of color and the poor in Michigan. The fight to challenge Michigan’s Resisting and Obstructing statute is going to continue with the MI CATS appeal.
Your support, love, and commitment to this movement of movements means the world to us.
For more information: #FreeTheEnbridge3
Some Reactions from the Larger Community
"The wrong people went to jail!" -Tina Tribble
"Again!" -Debbie Lawrence
"Let me get this straight. You protest a yet unbuilt pipeline and go to jail but you poison the water of 300,000 people and you get to declare bankruptcy. Ok. I get it. The Corporations rule America." -Tom Herman
"This is a travesty. Two of these woman I know from my time at the 2013 National Gathering, in Kalamazoo Mi. You cannot find more caring and virtuous people. Lisa Leggio was always easy to locate - just find where people are working. I swear, I never once saw her sitting down.
These three handcuffed themselves to an Enbridge tar sands pipe. Enbridge has caused the largest oil spill on land in this country. Those in power know that to quash dissent, one must start in the early stage, and with such harsh penalties, that empathetic people are scared off.
By the way, Enbridge was ordered to cleanup the grotesque destruction left by their massive oil spill. They have run way past their court-ordered cleanup date deadline. So far, no further action has been taken by the court." -Captain Ray Lewis
"The Govt. is just trying to set an example of them. Putting future protesters in fear, control thru Fear. Don't give up, the cause is just." -Richard Highland
"They are giving up their lives/freedom for our planet. What will you do. If we stand together they can't take us all." -Kate Clark
"Yikes! Break the economy, no prosecution. Sell rotten mortgages, again no prosecution. Shut down the government - create domestic havoc..... Nothing. But protest a real danger, and this???? The system is irrevocably broken if this stands." -Georgia Harbeck-Kinsley
"These people will go into history as people who cared and tried to protect the environment while these clowns sending them to jail will not be looking so good. My heart goes out to these three brave people standing alone fighting against big money and greed." -Kathy Snedeker
What You Can Do
Write a postcard to them and/or host a letter writing party. The jail only excepts PLAIN 4″x6″ postcards. This means nothing with pictures, essentially just index cards. Address the postcards to Vickie Hamlin (138214), Lisa Leggio, or Barbara Carter at 640 N. Cedar Street, Mason, MI 48854. Writing is so important in keeping these ladies strong, as visitation is limited to a single 25-minute Skype visit per week. Reports show they are being held separately.
If you are writing to Vicci, please note there have been several mixups with the state in the spelling of her name and they list it as Vickie Hamlin which is what you will have to use to write her or give her commissary. To make sure your card gets to her, please include her ID number by her name, which is 139214.
Support for Sentencing
If you have known Vicci, Lisa, or Barb in any capacity in the past, write a letter addressed to Judge William Collette delineating positive aspects about each lady. Each letter should be about only one of the ladies. The letters should paint them as human beings, telling anecdotes and stories about positive contributions each has made, positive things each has accomplished, and good deeds each has done. These will be used to try to convince the judge to give a lenient sentence to the ladies on March 5. Send these letters to John Royal at email@example.com.
Hold a solidarity action against anything bad! Some examples of bad things include Enbridge, prisons, banks, and more! We’re also humbled by the Tar Sands Blockade inspired request for #NOKXL vigils to also lift up the stories of the #MICATS3. Let us know about your action or solidarity vigil by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.