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

Holiday traced to new cases of COVID-19

A total of 11 new COVID-19 cases were tallied on the North… Continue reading

Peninsula College reels from new rule aimed at international students

About 60 international students enrolled at Peninsula College for the fall quarter… Continue reading

Three new COVID-19 cases in Clallam County

Three new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Clallam County, bringing… Continue reading

WHAT WE KNOW: Coronavirus outbreak at a glance

The latest news on the pandemic, plus symptom information and prevention tips

Health officers work with schools for safe reopening

North Olympic Peninsula health officials have been working with school administrators this… Continue reading

Peninsula College hosts online series, ‘Conversations Toward a Culture of Justice’

Creating a safe space for conversation and dialog during an unprecedented moment… Continue reading

Jamestown S’Klallam hotel in last stages

Workers were putting finishing touches on the new five-story 7 Cedars Hotel… Continue reading

Confirmed COVID-19 cases remain at 87 on Peninsula

Clallam and Jefferson County health officials were working to trace contacts of… Continue reading

Most Read