Oklahoma City cops charge Keystone XL protesters with "terrorism hoax" because their banner shed some glitter

Two protesters who held up an anti-Keystone-XL-pipeline banner at the Oklahoma City headquarters of Devon Energy have been charged with perpetrating a "terrorism hoax" because some of the glitter on their banner fell on the floor and was characterized by OKC cops as a "hazardous substance."

The arrest is an extreme example, but it's not an isolated one. Indeed, leaked documents show that TransCanada has an army of spies assembling dossiers on protesters, and has been briefing the FBI and local law on techniques for prosecuting anti-pipeline protesters as terrorists.

Their attorney, Doug Parr, has been involved in dozens of protest cases like this one in Oklahoma and Texas. In other arrests, protesters have faced trumped-up charges, but this is a radical escalation. "I've been practicing law since the 1970s. Quite frankly, I've been expecting this," Parr said. "Based upon the historical work I've been involved in, I know that when popular movements that confront the power structure start gaining traction, the government ups the tactics they employ in order to disrupt and take down those movements."

TransCanada has been putting pressure on law enforcement to do exactly that. In documents obtained by Bold Nebraska, the company was shown briefing police and the FBI on how to prosecute anti-pipeline protesters as terrorists.

Two Environmentalists Were Charged with 'Terrorism Hoax' for Too Much Glitter on Their Banner [Will Potter/Vice]

Notable Replies

  1. Was it the OKC PD, or the prosecutor? It's the prosecutor's office who decides the charges. Not that the OKC PD are blameless, but when it comes to bogus charges, I would look at criticizing the prosecutors, not the cops, because they have ultimate discretion and responsibility here. Cops can arrest you for all kinds of shit, only the prosecutor can charge and go ahead to trial. Prosecutors are also more susceptible to political pressure.

  2. It wouldn't be the first terrorist artwork.

  3. Isn't that the point of glitter? To make things cute?

  4. That would be a great name for a 70's-style glam band - The Glitter Pipeline

  5. Risk is not something that exists or doesn't, it's something that needs to be minimized. Even when a pipeline is the only viable option, for instance, you might take pains not to route it through vulnerable areas and put in extra security measures to prevent and minimize leaks.

    Those cost money to the company, though, rather than externalizing the damage to the public at large. In the first proposal of the Keystone XL they didn't so much as bother planning around aquifers, and still had the audacity to claim it had no real risks. As of June it was still not planned to use EPA-recommended leak detection systems, though that might have changed by now, given how much pressure environmental groups have put on them.

    That might tell you something about where risk management sits on their priorities. Meanwhile there have been notable leaks that paint a very poor picture of how pipelines are managed in general. Of course leaks will happen, but they don't have to be so large or take so long to detect, stop, or report.

    And we should be able to make decisions aware of the true costs. This year Alberta had its largest oil spill in decades; the extent was not reported for days, it was declared contained when it had only been stopped by beavers, and it was declared only coincidence that a nearby school was shut. There was a large leak in Arkansas, too, the extent of which was kept concealed while investigators were kept away from the area. It is easy to find more examples showing the level of environmental problems are being hidden.

    So yeah, all in all there are lots of reasons to be concerned about Keystone XL, which is still planned to run through sensitive areas. And yet you have the gall to tell us the pipeline is not merely safe enough but environmentally neutral, and that there is really no practical way anything better could be done - to the point where we should all sympathize with the poor innocent company wanting to falsely arrest the odd protestor.

    What can I say to that? I don't know what insult could match the level of sheer contempt such claims express for their audience. Did you think none of us had ever heard of a pipeline before, or what?

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