Activists try to occupy the front steps of the state capitol

  • Tuesday, January 9, 2018 10:00am
  • News

By Taylor McAvoy

WNPA Olympia News Bureau

Climate activists erected tents and teepees Monday, Jan. 8, in front of the Washington State Capitol building, on the opening day of the Legislature’s 60-day session.

“We are here today in prayer,” member of Protectors of the Salish Sea Paul Che Oketen Wagner of the Saanich First Nation of Canada said.

Wagner claims under the Medicine Creek treaty of 1854, the legislative grounds are native lands. He said the group hoped to occupy the space between the legislative building and the Washington State Supreme Court for the duration of the session.

The climate groups are demanding the government uphold treaty rights, stop the liquified natural gas construction in Tacoma, and abolish open pen fish farms that they say endanger native salmon and other fish.

Bill Layman, with Climate Conversations in north central Washington called for a carbon tax, all electric link transportation, and water based renewable energy.

Gov. Inslee has proposed a carbon tax this session.

“You don’t know about a person until you’ve walked around in their fins,” said founding member of Olympic Climate Action, Ed Chaad, who was dressed as an orca whale.

Chaad called on lawmakers to pass legislation protecting the Salish Sea from noise pollution and from risk of oil spills from increased tankers in the area.

Senator Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, announced his proposal for a Salish Sea Protection package of legislation that would re-examine emergency response for oil spills, establish a permanent tug vessel response, increase enforcement on Orca Whale protection laws, and eliminate new leases on Atlantic salmon net pens.

In the Senate chambers, as newly elected lawmakers were sworn in, climate action group members chanted,

“We have a climate crisis. We need to act now.”

Sen. Ranker disagreed with the activists’ action in the chambers as a new senator was being sworn in.

“They will defeat their own cause to disrupt the Senate like that,” he said, calling their actions disrespectful. “I feel bad for our senator and I feel bad for our cause. That is the sort of thing that will defeat a year’s worth of work in an instant.”

Paul Wagner and Protectors of the Salish Sea claimed they have a right to a say on the land.

Press calls were referred to the state Department of Enterprise Services yesterday. According to that agency, the activists set up the tents at 6 a.m. Officers negotiated with the group and agreed that they had until 5 p.m. to move the tent from capitol grounds. Activists refused.

A few individuals from the group stayed in one remaining tent overnight. Washington State Patrol and the Department of Enterprise Services were continuing conversations with activists on Tuesday in an effort to remove the tent.

This story is part of a series of news reports from the Washington State Legislature provided through a reportinginternship sponsored by the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation.

More in News

Weather — Aug. 15, 2018

Temperatures Date High Low Aug. 7 75 54 Aug. 8 85 56… Continue reading

Sunland Golf Country Club struggling, homeowners to discuss possible contract options

Leaders of Sunland Golf & Country Club say the 18-hole course and… Continue reading

Emma Murphy, a Port Angeles High School student and Junior ROTC member, helps sort 2018 arts and crafts entries at the fairgrounds on Aug 13.
Clallam County Fair’s 99th year runs Aug. 16-19 in Port Angeles

2018 Clallam County Fair When: Thursday-Sunday, Aug. 16-19 Where: Clallam County Fairgrounds,… Continue reading

Plans for school portables underway

As Sequim School District readies for the next school year, several programs… Continue reading

Hot rods rev up for Sequim Prairie Nights Saturday, Aug. 18 in downtown

When you see this many cool cars rolling down Washington Street, it… Continue reading

Sequim City Manager receives ‘excellent’ review

Sequim City Councilors seem to like what City Manager Charlie Bush is… Continue reading

A ‘Revolutionary’ good time: Northwest Colonial Festival draws another big crowd

After a long weekend of lavender love in July, George Washington Inn/Washington… Continue reading

Sequim man sentenced in rape cases

A former Sequim church trustee who has been convicted of raping two… Continue reading

Sequim man facing fourth DUI charge in under 10 years

A 26-year-old Sequim man appeared in Clallam County Superior Court on Aug.… Continue reading

Most Read