The Whiting 41 – the 41 people arrested for trespassing at the BP refinery during the May 2016 Break Free Midwest action – emerged from the Hammond Federal Courthouse to cheers from supporters of renewable energy and environmental justice. Judge Jesse Villalpando commended the defendants’ jovial spirit and dropped all charges, with the condition that none of the 41 are arrested again over the next six months. Post Tribune reporter Becky Jacobs filed a fantastic report that captured the mood in the courtroom and on the streets. The NWI Times and WBEZ also reported on the trial and subsequent action at the office of Indiana Democratic Senator Joseph Donnelly.
About 75 people heard speakers including 350 Indiana-Calumet and #Whiting41 member John Halstead, Shelia Gardner of National Nurses United, Joyce Morales Beckett of the American Indian Center (not pictured), and Vince Emanuele of Iraq Veterans Against The War.
Hammond police and city workers kindly de-iced the sidewalks and alleys; marchers then took to the streets for the short march around the corner to Sen. Donnelly’s office.
Once at the senator’s office, the assembled group performed a moving and effective street theatre, with loud chants replaced by soft, dynamic singing. I’d never seen anything quite like this in my fifteen years of participating and documenting social justice actions. It was very effective.
“I hear the voice of my great granddaughter saying ‘keep it in the ground.'”
Kristin Frank of 350 Indiana-Calumet reads an open letter to Indiana Senator Joseph Donnelly calling on him to reject Trump’s Climate Denying Cabinet.