Follow this link to background information on Houston's toxic East End, more info on projects going on in Manchester such as the Free Store, and photos from other events. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org
On Thursday, December 27th, in Houston, TX residents of the Manchester neighborhood joined in unity with anarchist community organizers, Tar Sands Blockaders, Occupiers, leaders from TEJAS (Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services), and hunger strikers Diane Wilson and Bob Lindsey, now in their 33rd day of a sustained hunger strike to protest Valero’s involvement with the Keystone XL Pipeline and ultimately their presence in this community. Movements like Occupy Wall Street have given rise to resistance movements that aim to prove that another world is possible.
Anarchists and Tar Sands Blockaders have been organizing in Houston’s toxic East End. For the past two months they have been working to cultivate a community of resistance in the fence-line neighborhood of Manchester. This was most recently displayed when residents of Manchester cheered on Diane Wilson and Bob Lindsey, after they chained their necks to industrial trucks outside this Valero refinery during a TSB action. People came out into the streets and began chanting, “Shut down Valero! Protect Manchester” and, “What do we want? Clean air! When do we want it? NOW!” Diane and Bob began a hunger strike immediately after being arrested for their actions. They were taken to the Harris County Jail where they were made to endure torturous and illegal conditions.
Anarchists and Tar Sands Blockaders helped to facilitate the gathering based on principles of mutual aid and solidarity. A barbecue was held less than one block away from the Valero refinery that poisons the neighborhood.
A sign proclaimed, “EVERYONE WELCOME! TODⒶS BIENVENIDⒶS!” and was accompanied by a free store containing many warm clothing items, books from Tony Diaz’s project, Librotraficante, live music from an Occupy Wall Street member, and toys for children collected and donated by Cherri Foytlin.
Cherri, an indigenous woman, and mother of six from Louisiana, chained herself to a Keystone XL Pipeyard gate on October 24th, a Tar Sands Blockade action.
“From destructive tar sands development that destroy indigenous sovereignty and health at the route’s start to the toxic emissions that will lay further burden on environmental justice communities along the Gulf of Mexico, this pipeline not only disproportionately affects indigenous frontline communities but its clear that it will bring death and disease to all in its path.”
Residents and allies marched the half block to the neighborhoods only park sitting in the shadow of the Valero refinery and it's insidious smokestacks to issue new demands on the corporate giant. “We demand to know what you are forcing us to breathe! ¡Exigimos saber lo que nos están obligando a respirar!” The community came together in a celebration of unity and strength. The following day, a young woman from the community who helped to write a demand letter to amplify the all too often silenced voices of Manchester, made her way to San Antonio. The president and CEO of Valero, William Kleese, lives there in a multi-billion dollar home in a gated community with a security check point. The young woman, Yudith, intended to speak directly to Kleese but no one came to the door. Yudith left a copy of this letter on the holiday wreath on Kleese's door.