Olympia: North Dakota Fracking Equipment Blocked, Train Tracks Barricaded

Around 12:30 on the afternoon November 11th, 2016, a small group of people blocked a train carrying hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) proppants* from exiting the Port of Olympia. The two Union Pacific engine operators claimed that the grain cars were carrying corn, but the group knew better and stood their ground. As word of the action spread and more and more people arrived, the blockade gathered in strength. Eventually the engine reversed back into the Port of Olympia yard, the gates locked, and the engine operators went home.

Fracking proppants are tiny ceramic beads resembling sand. The fracking process involves injecting high-pressure fluid into the ground; the pressure fractures the rock and allows natural gas or oil to flow into a well. The proppants are used to “prop” open the cracks during extraction. Without them the cracks would collapse and no gas or oil extraction would be possible. These particular proppants are bound for North Dakota’s Bakken Oil Fields; Bakken oil is set to flow through the Dakota Access Pipeline. The blockaders have joined Sacred Stone Camp at Standing Rock and Mississippi Stand in Iowa in the fight against the Black Snake.

There is only one set of tracks into the Port and it runs straight through the center of downtown Olympia. The first blockade camp was built and maintained at State and Jefferson, a major intersection. Though police circled and surveilled the crowd, they did not intervene and have thus far been very hands-off. This will likely change, however, as the blockade has no intention of moving.

Soon after the blockade began, a white single-engine plane began to circle Downtown Olympia. It did so for several hours. Although there is no direct confirmation, the FBI has recently begun circling protest sites (Ferguson, Baltimore, etc.) with white single-engine planes that act as cell phone towers and suck up all cellular communication within their range.

In the early evening, a nearby anti-Trump demonstration passed by the blockade and numbers temporarily swelled into the hundreds. The march took off down the tracks, stopping at the Port of Olympia before going on to block traffic at the choke-point between the east and west sides of town. Meanwhile, back at the barricade, the party continued. A sound system, couches, and a steady flow of pizza kept spirits high and a small crew held it down through the night.

On the morning of November 12th the group decided to move further down the tracks to the corner of 7th and Jefferson near the split in the train line. At the time of this writing the tracks are barricaded and a rotating group of people maintains a constant presence. More people are needed to hold the space and make it stronger. Bring tools, banners, supplies, food, tarps, building materials; anything that will help the barricades hold.