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Open Letter to the MI CATS 3 from Tar Sands Blockade

By the MI-CATS 3 - February 2, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

As some double-down their efforts to engage in the corrupt political process surrounding the northern leg of Keystone XL, we want to take some time to honor three brave womyn currently imprisoned by the state for resisting another tar sands pipeline in their backyard.

On Friday, Vicci Hamlin, Lisa Leggio, and Barbara Carter of Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MI CATS) were found guilty of trespassing and “resisting and obstructing an officer”, a felony charge in Michigan that carries a maximum jail sentence of three years. They were arrested while blockading construction equipment being used to expand Enbridge’s Line 6B – the same tar sands pipeline which caused the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history when it leaked over one million gallons of tar sands bitumen into the Kalamazoo River in 2010.

While they are being held awaiting sentencing on March 5, MI CATS is calling on all those who oppose tar sands to send messages of solidarity and support. Plain text, handwritten messages (sorry, no pictures) on blank 4″x6″ index cards can be sent to:

Vickie Hamlin OR Lisa Leggio OR Barbara Carter (Please only one per card)
640 N. Cedar Street
Mason, MI 48854

If you have questions about sending in your solidarity message, or if you want to learn about other ways to support MI CATS, check out their website:

We are asking that anyone attending upcoming vigils and actions to stop the northern Keystone XL pipeline keep the MI CATS 3 in your thoughts, tell others their story and gather messages of solidarity from those attending. Just as important as honoring those who face the very real threat of tar sands devastation coming to their community from KXL North, those who take action need to know they have the support of this growing movement. Now is the time to show that those who take bold action are not left behind.

Of course, everything we want to say to the #MICATS3 doesn’t fit on a single notecard, so we’re posting our thoughts here in full and will be sending them to the kidnapped cats on a series of numbered 4”x6” index cards.


Dear Vicci, Lisa, and Barb,

From the Blackland Prairie, Pineywoods, and Buffalo Bayou of Texas, know that our hearts are with you. We remember the pain of having comrades kept from us all too well and feel outrage over your verdict, sympathy for your situation, and renewed inspiration to never give up.

We understand why you feel driven to defend your community. We support and honor your decisions to take direct action rather than beg politicians for salvation. With the recent startup of KXL South through Oklahoma and Texas, we share your belief that tar sands pipelines are too great a threat to the health and safety of local communities across the continent, and that tar sands mining and refining are additional strokes of injustice for communities of color already overburdened by environmental contaminants and intersecting layers of oppression.

We recognize that throughout history womyn have always been the backbone of grassroots movements. As political leaders like Obama continue to sacrifice our homes and environment for the benefit of the extraction industry, their political betrayals will result in more and more powerful womyn like yourselves being forced to sit in cages. We wish this wasn’t so. In a more just world your cells would be occupied by the Enbridge executives whose negligence and greed poisoned the Kalamazoo River.

In our hearts we know that what is happening to you is one more onslaught of state repression, similar to the very calculated use of the term “eco-terrorist” we’ve seen applied to our friends. The state posits that if the penalties are severe enough, resistance will wither and let oil & gas continue their rampage of destruction across this planet. But make no mistake: your courage only strengthens our resolve to stand up to these real criminals.

As some of us are still awaiting our own trials, we know what it feels like to be fearful of state repression and the terrible prison apparatus. But we also understand that the consequences of inaction are far more terrifying. Please know that we will continue to send our love and support as you endure the violence of the state – and that our rage against injustice burns that much hotter during your incarceration.

Keep looking to the light of freedom, friends. The arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice.

Love and Solidarity,

Tar Sands Blockade

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