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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Richardson Grove Action Now Returns from Bay Area and Sacramento

For Immediate Release (pdf Here) June 14, 2011

Richardson Grove Action Now Steps Beyond the Redwood Curtain –
Direct Action Resistance Brought to Sacramento June 8-10!

Contact: Verbena Lea 707.602.7551

After six months of organizing rallies and actions behind the 'redwood curtain' protesting CalTrans' plan to expand Highway 101 through Richardson Grove State Park and adjacent forestland, Richardson Grove Action Now [RGAN] last week upped the ante by taking the fight to the state capital in Sacramento, where they carried out a flash mob action. The highway expansion plan has global significance, threatening some of the last 2% remaining ancient redwoods on Earth.

RGAN activists rode on the White Rose bus to Oakland, Sacramento, and Glen Cove, Vallejo in order to mobilize widespread resistance to the highway expansion, demonstrate at the Capitol, and connect with an ongoing spiritual encampment established to stave off development on a sacred indigenous burial shellmound site in Glen Cove. RGAN's Verbena Lea says, “Worldwide, people are opposed to harming or cutting ancient redwood forests, which CalTrans plans to do; ancient redwoods have all but been wiped off the face of the earth and, like the people at Glen Cove, we are saying to developers, government and corporations, 'You have already desecrated and taken too much- We're stopping you here.'”

The road widening would mutilate an ancient grove in order to facilitate trans-national corporations, nuclear materials, development, and military having greater access to the Humboldt Bay region which has been relatively protected by forest bottlenecks and winding roads. Highways 199, 299, and 36, entering the region from the East, are also on the cutting block for highway expansion.

The “White Rose” bio-diesel bus was formerly used by anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, and as a support vehicle for the Longest Walk 2 in 2008, organized by AIM to draw attention to indigenous sacred sites in danger of being destroyed by developers. (The White Rose was a German anti-fascist group during Hitler's reign, executed for distributing pamphlets encouraging resistance to the Nazis.)

Thousands of individuals and groups, including RGAN, have written Gov. Jerry Brown, urging him to cancel the road widening plan using the Governor's authority. RGAN made this demand at the Capitol through a contemporary direct action known as a flash mob, and will reach the world through their musical protest, executed without permit, then circulated via YouTube. The video will be released this week.

On the Capitol steps, despite threat of arrest from onlooking officers, RGAN activists- joined by supporters from Chico, Sacramento, Oakland, and San Francisco- busted out a flash mob version of George Clinton/ Parliament's “We Got the Funk.” RGAN's updated lyrics detail multi-faceted opposition to road widening through Richardson Grove (i.e. “We want old growth, not corporate flow.”) Followed by police, RGAN marched to CalTrans' state headquarters & chanted “No Road Widening Through Richardson Grove. We are the People and the People Say NO,” handing literature to CalTrans employees & passers-by. The final Sacramento flash mob action was done on a busy street in the business district. Families took photos, and many people including a foreign magazine writer took literature to spread the word against the highway expansion.

While at the Capitol, RGAN learned that four women in wheelchairs had just been arrested protesting California officials' refusal to fund peoples' survival needs- cutting healthcare, in home services, education, etc.-with ever-increasing monies going to prisons, corporations, police, and urbanized development. Gov Brown recently shut down seventy state parks to “save” $22 million; however, the state intends to sink $5.5 million of public money, matching federal funds, into the 1.1 mile highway expansion through Richardson Grove.

RGAN's Sue Ricker said, “If CalTrans can widen the highway through Richardson Grove, a world-renowned old-growth redwood forest, they'll go to any length to convert the 101 into an interstate NAFTA artery.” Already Cypress Grove Chevre -once a locally-owned goat cheese producer, now owned by Swiss multi-national Emmi Corp.- trucks in goat milk from Mexico. Cypress Grove is a supporter of CalTrans' project.

Although CalTrans claims that the project will not harm ancient trees, it is well-established that cutting, compacting, & excavating redwood roots, as planned for the road widening, would harm or kill the trees. Also, it appears that huge ancient redwoods would have to be cut to implement CalTrans' road widening.

RGAN vows to stop this plan in the roads, offices, trees, construction sites, & gov't buildings- near and far.

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