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The approach of construction and the eviction of the tree-sit have unleashed a wave of solidarity actions against I-69 across the region and beyond. Whether close or far, these actions seem to convey similar things: that people everywhere recognize how destructive I-69 will be to their lives and to the lives of people in Indiana, that the two decade long struggle against the road by farmers and diverse community members is inspiring and merits solidarity, and that the repression of this struggle will not be tolerated. Here are reports from Michigan and New York.
Press Release for Friday June 27th, 2008 from Kalamazoo residents opposed to I-69
We are everywhere.
On Monday, June 23rd at 1:30 PM the Kalamazoo residents opposed to I-69 visited the DLZ Corporation in Kalamazoo for an office demonstration. They entered the building prepared to read a statement but were instantly harassed by an employee. He screamed obscenities, shoved the woman reading the prepared statement, and insisted that there was no office manager or anyone to discuss the impact of I-69
with. The Kalamazoo residents opposed to I-69 marched through the office with drums and whistles and exited the building.
The office seemed to instantly be aware that they were being protested. They did not want to talk or hear a word of what the residents had to say. The following letter was left on several desks and at the main desk.
Dear Kalamazoo Neighbors,
We are writing to inform you of something that is of great importance. Though you maybe unaware of this, your current place of employment, DLZ is in league with some very dark and disturbing things that are happening to the world we live in. You might be aware of the fact that DLZ is one of many companies
that is helping in the formation of highway development in Indiana, the extension of Interstate-69. Now though this may seem to be “Business as Usual” or “Just another development in a long line”,
this particular project is so much worse.
Interstate-69 is part of a massive undertaking that is spreading across states, countries, and indeed continents. It has been talked about for decades and gone under many different names. The NAFTA Super Highway, the North American Corridor, and Plan Puebla Panama are only a few.This expressway is a small
part in the globalization of our world. To explain this further, jobs here at home are being moved across borders, the products of which will be shipped here, via I-69, to those currently unemployed. These jobs of course are going to be exploiting the global South. Not only will this further harm some of the most super-exploited people on Earth, but miles upon miles of forests, wetlands, farms, and homes will be destroyed and/or displaced from the construction of this expressway.
Between jobs going over borders, products being shipped in, farms being destroyed and the utter destruction of the natural world here at home and abroad, it seems obvious to those of us in Kalamazoo that the completion of this expressway is an atrocious, repugnant act. It is opposed by those in its line of destruction, those in other countries, and now by us in Kalamazoo.
It is with this in mind that we write you. We want you to be aware of the fact that what DLZ is doing is wrong and under the watch of people throughout the country, and the world at\ large. Rather than just bear witness to this injustice, we demand that this project be stopped and that it be discarded. We stand in Solidarity with our brothers and sisters who will lose jobs because of this. We stand in Solidarity with those
whose homes are being destroyed. We stand in Solidarity with those who are being exploited in Central and South America. We stand in Solidarity with the farmers who will now be putting down their tools and who will be left in the gutters of development because of the actions of DLZ.
We as residents of Kalamazoo, as friends, as neighbors, and acquaintances of yours demand that YOU stop this highway.
And in Solidarity with those oppressed,
The Residents of Kalamazoo Opposed to I-69
From New York:
On the morning of Tuesday June 24, employees of HNTB arrived at their Hicksville, NY office to find the building defaced with spray paint. DEAL WITH I-69 DEAL WITH US was written across the front of the building. When they went to the front door, the lock was glued and the door was covered in paint. They walked around to the back and the back doors were glued too. Other slogans were painted on the sides of the building and all the windows were covered in paint. They called the locksmith to break in for
them and then called the cleaning people. The cleaning crew told them there was nothing they could do about the windows, the paint was etched into the glass.
HNTB then removed the address of the Hicksville office (40 Commerce Pl) from their website.
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Opponents to I-69 shut down business at a Gohmann Asphalt site for three and half hours on Wednesday, disrupting the normal flow of operations, clogging construction traffic, and costing Gohmann several hours worth of lost profits. Gohmann Asphalt has been awarded a $25 million contract to construct the first 1.77 miles of Interstate 69 north of Evansville, Indiana, a road that will displace 450 families, destroy thousands of acres of farmland, forests, and wetlands, and contribute to the increasing exploitation of the global South through free trade.
Protesters arrived at Gohmann Asphalt’s construction yard in Haubstadt, IN at 10 AM Wednesday morning. While one individual stopped a truck leaving the site, others deflated the tires, immobilizing the vehicle. Four individuals locked themselves to the undercarriage beneath the truck, and yet another climbed on top and locked his neck to a bar that was fixed to the trailer. Within minutes a long line of trucks stretched down the road, some trying to enter the facility and several trying to exit. As the lines grew longer, supporters arrived and began chanting, holding banners, and supporting those locked on with water and food.
Police arrived rapidly, and arrested one individual for allegedly deflating the truck’s tires, but seemed dumbfounded by the people locked on to the truck. As more and more law enforcement officers and agencies arrived, a crowd of spectators rapidly grew outside a nearby gas station, watching as business came to a halt. Police numbers grew throughout the day, until there were at least thirty different patrol cars, vans, and undercover cars. The numbers did nothing to help them, however, and they seemed increasingly befuddled as to how to remove the protesters.
Those locked on underneath the truck quickly gathered a small crowd of supporters, and filled the air with chants and songs. Spirits remained high throughout the day, and the truck provided shade for everyone but the police, who stood around conferring in small groups in the 95˚ weather.
“This action is in direct response to the careless and life-threatening eviction of the tree-sit and the ongoing repression of anti I-69 organizers in the region,” said Alex Lindenberry, one of those locked on to the truck. “We are also here to hold Gohmann Asphalt accountable for the construction of I-69, for the evictions of landowners, the destruction of communities here and south of the border, and for the environmental devastation that this road will bring. As long as Gohmann and other companies continue to work on this road, resistance will continue. Repression breeds resistance.”
After several hours of lost business, a police liaison negotiated the safe departure of everyone present, contingent on two demands: first, that all those present not be charged or harassed by police at a later date as a result of this action, and second that the comrade arrested for allegedly flattening the tires be released on their own recognizance. Those involved in the action decided to unlock and leave rather than stay and be arrested, deciding that the hours of lost business and the media spectacle were more important than symbolic arrests. As a result, those locked down walked away without even being identified, freeing up more bodies and legal funds to continue the fight.
This is only the most recent action in the struggle against I-69, and in retaliation for the eviction of the tree-sit. Although less than a week has passed since the eviction, office demos against involved corporations have taken place across the country, from Indiana and Kentucky to Maryland and Michigan and over 50 people marched with torches in Bloomington, IN last Saturday.
More and more people arrive in Southern Indiana every week to join the struggle against the NAFTA Superhighway. Fighting I-69 is not solely eco-defense, but is a direct attack on infrastructure necessary for the expansion of global capitalism. As the pace of construction accelerates and police repression increases, it becomes more vital than ever for more people to join the battle. Houses are under constant surveillance, cars are being tailed, and individuals are being repeatedly detained in multiple counties. The level of repression is a clear indicator of the degree of fear felt by the state and the corporations involved with this highway. They can film our houses and follow our cars, but there are more of us every day. If you ever thought about coming to Indiana, now is the time. Come for a week, for a month, or until construction ends. They can evict our camps and arrest our friends, they can try to force us underground, they can try to intimidate us, but we will never let them build this road.
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Looking for ways to plug into the Anti-I-69 campaign around Bloomington?
Here are a few ways you can help!
Every Tuesday from 4-6 food and supplies can be dropped off at the I-69 Listening Project Office at the Caldwell Eco Center (323 S. Walnut).
Here are some things we would like:
Care packages with: arnica, rescue remedy, books and letters of encouragement.
Both canned and non-canned, prepared food
Fruit/veggie items (dried or barred)
Bulk food items
Pots, pans and flatware
– You could help with the I-69 Listening Project. Visit the Eco Center on Tuesdays for more information.
– There are community potlucks every Monday (visit the Eco Center for more Info).
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