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Monday Watercooler

 

Three marmosets on a branch

Marmoset therapy for your Monday doldrums.

Tonight’s Watercooler is in solidarity with Utah Tar Sands activists who shut down work at the tar sands mine in the Book Cliffs.

About 80 climate justice land defenders enforced a full-day work stoppage at a tar sands mine in the Book Cliffs of Utah July 21, 2014. Multiple technical and non-technical blockades were deployed to keep the peace and prevent further destruction by construction crews.

The proposed tar sands mine area–PR Springs on the East Tavaputs Plateau–was stolen from the Utes last century. Recently US EPA has demanded information from the tar sands company regarding certain toxic waste dangers that will be an inevitable result of the project’s progress, threatening a vital water source to Ute people. The pollution from this project will pose a special threat to the very people from whom the land was stolen.

Tensions with police were high for several hours throughout they day as cops sought to break a series of blockades and restore the violent land scraping and development. Twenty-one people were arrested and several were injured.

Undeterred by aggressive and repeatedly violent acts by the Uintah County Sheriff’s Department and the School Institutional Trust Lands Administration to break the people’s resolve, the series of blockades stopped the company and law enforcement from restoring the violent status quo that day.

London’s Victoria and Albert Museum is holding an exhibition of the art and design of protest called “Disobedient Objects.” From The Daily Beast:

Through an extraordinary breadth of innovation, from arm braces that make human blockades impossible to dismantle to giant inflatables that can alter the media coverage of a struggle, Disobedient Objects argues that flashes of inspirational design have often made the difference in the success of a protest.

‘You get a lot of exhibitions that say: “Designs that changed the world,”‘ said Gavin Grindon, one of the show’s curators. ‘These are designs that really did change the world.’

Walking through the show, it’s impossible to miss the trend—virtually all of the innovative, daring pieces of design and art have emerged from left-wing protest groups. The organizers insist this was never the intention, they just couldn’t find any examples from the Right. Grindon told The Daily Beast the realization surprised him, but it seems the Left is more inventive, better at protesting.

[…] The most directly successful object in the show is the lock-on, a metal tube with a bolt through the middle that protesters place their arms inside. Versions of the device were first designed in the late 1980s, allowing protesters to chain their arms to each other or around something in a way that the police could not safely dismantle. You can point to areas of forest that are still standing in New Zealand or roads that were not built in Britain because of the stubborn realization of this simple design.

Other exhibits worked more obliquely, altering the mood of a protest or changing the way a demonstration was later portrayed to the public. Hanging from the exhibition ceiling are two huge inflatable cobblestones. The blow-up props were first used at a protest in Berlin in 2010, where the police and the media were warned in advance that violence was expected after previous events had been marred by cobbled paving stones thrown at police.

‘The police have to decide what on earth they are going to do with this thing. If they throw it back, suddenly they are playing beach volleyball with anarchists…’

This time, demonstrators threw the inflatables at advancing officers. ‘The whole demonstration changes instantly,’ Grindon explained.

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The Watercooler is an open conversation. Ask questions, share links and your thoughts.

Photo by Tambako the Jaguar released under a Creative Commons No Derivatives license.

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Kit OConnell

Kit OConnell

Kit O’Connell is a gonzo journalist and radical troublemaker from Austin, Texas. He is the Associate Editor and Community Manager of Shadowproof. Kit's investigative journalism has appeared in Truthout, MintPress News and Occupy.com.