Above image: Petroleum Coke (Pet-Coke) along the Detroit River.
Note: The protesters came back and blocked the entrance again on Tuesday, and spoke to the Detroit City Council seeking their support to stop deliveries. Visit the Detroit Coalition Against Tar Sands DCATS for more information.
The fight held Monday, June 24 at the entrance to the Detroit docks where the petroleum coke is brought, stored, then shipped has hit the moment of IMPACT as about 75 people were present to shut-down operations at TransFlo/CSX Terminal, 177 12th St/Rosa Parks Blvd, Detroit near Fort St & W Jefferson.
The news is WE WON A VICTORY ON THE GROUND IN THE BATTLE.
Around six o’clock Monday morning the sound of tandem trucks turning the corner from Fort St onto Rosa Parks was heard. We broke bread and prepared. We called around and more came to the action to be undertaken. Early in the day Rev Charles Williams Jr, Sam Riddle, and Mary Waters came to join the fight. We spoke with news crews present – Fox 2 sent Amy Andrews to report on the situation. Jarret Schlaff spoke around 7:20am live and Stephen Boyle was recorded for broadcast during the 8:30am news slot.
From there the story continued to catch new interest. News crews from Fox 2 News, Michigan Radio, WDIV, and more. Even the Detroit News seemed to get a story in, and the Detroit Free Press was mute.
Action with the truck hauling petcoke started around 8:30am not long after a visit from NAN (National Action Network) leaders in support – Rev Charles Williams Jr, Mary Waters, and Sam Riddle. A human chain blockade was formed and the line was reinforced. Detroit Police and Border Patrol added officers to the ranks through the action with about a dozen police and 8 border patrol present. A police van arrived about 1.5 hours into the action, appearing to be ready to pull protesters to jail.
Our police liaison kept a cool head through the action and worked with all parties to a negotiated position after 2 hours of demonstration between police, protesters, and Savage Industries / Detroit Bulk Storage Company that TransFlo Terminal would not receive any more trucks of petroleum coke. The truck we blocked was allowed to turn around and one tandem inside the dock was allowed to leave. The Detroit Police on site held a position oddly close to the lines of those in the blockade and we asked them repeatedly to open up the space so those in the blockade had room to walk backward. The police seeing the group was complying with the negotiated terms eventually opened enough room for the human chain to walk back to a position allowing the truck to enter a first gate (not that servicing the petcoke piles) for turning around.
Additional trucks handling tank stored materials came and left, notable in those were shipments of molten sulfur, another byproduct of tar sands processing at Marathon Refinery. We also saw a truck with no DOT label to indicate what was contained inside.
DCATS representatives have been vocal with Detroit City Council for months, we have sat through watching meetings of corporate representatives, government regulators, and government officials. We have researched the issues and are speaking from a knowledge of encountering the effects personally.