15 Arrested in Protest, Lockdown at Caterpillar, “Israel’s Weapon of Choice”
Midnite update: Some arrestees are set to be released from jail on $200 bail; others are choosing to remain; arraignments appear to be set for 8:30 Wednesday morning at 425 Grove, St. Paul. Charges are trespassing, failure to obey a lawful order, and unlawful assembly–all misdemeanors. || View photos
5 MACALESTER STUDENTS LOCK DOWN TO BLOCK THE DRIVEWAY OF A CATERPILLAR DISTRIBUTION CENTER, PROTESTING THE COMPANY’S ROLE IN PALESTINIAN HOME DEMOLITION, SLUM CLEARING AND DEFORESTATION.
The lock-down of five was successful; the authorities’ best heavy-duty equipment struggled for hours to cut through the material and thus several shipments in and out of the Caterpillar facility were disrupted. After the lockdowners were ordered to disperse late in the afternoon, however, cops (led by Sheriff Bob Fletcher at the scene) suddenly arrested 10 supporters and legal observers nearby without warning. Only a handful were able to evade the sudden dragnet. In addition to Fletcher, over a dozen police cars plus firetrucks and an ambulance were at the scene.
STATEMENT from Mac MPJC/SDS: Today, we, Macalester Peace and Justice Committee/Students for a Democratic Society, block Caterpillar’s driveway because Caterpillar must be held responsible for the things from which they profit. Caterpillar bulldozers are used to clear-cut forests and demolish natural habitats, clear out slums that are the homes of millions in brutal ‘cleaning’ operations, and, perhaps most visibly, the Caterpillar bulldozer is the weapon of choice in Israel’s systematic assault on the Palestinian people. Caterpillar executives cannot be divorced from responsibility for the consequences of their profit. Caterpillar executives may not be the ones driving the bulldozers, but they gain directly from the injustice and oppression that their products propagate across the globe.
6:15 (from comments): 2 lockdowners remaining; arrestees at at Ramsey County Jail at 425 Grove St. Charges unknown but reportedly no dispersal order was given…
6:00pm: Cops are still unable to cut through 4 of 5 lockdowners’ devices (the 5th only had a u-lock). Semis are being blocked from entering and the group is prepared to stay “indefinitely”
5:15pm: Lockdown has been in progress in Roseville at Fairview Ave and County B2; for updates follow here or at twitter.com/tcimc
Continued statement from Mac MPJC/SDS:
Specially armored Caterpillar bulldozers are Israel’s tools for the relentless, slow-motion destruction of Palestinian lives, homes, and livelihoods. Israel uses Caterpillar to demolish Palestinian homes, rip up Palestinian olive groves, and to build new settler homes with manicured lawns and central air. Since 1967, Israel has demolished 24,145 Palestinian homes in the Occupied Territories; in the same time period, Israel has built 214 settlements and erected a separation wall which cuts deep into the West Bank. Time after time, settlements ‘spring up’ right where they are most disruptive to local economies, while Israel further shatters trade routes and freedom of movement with Apartheid walls, Israeli-only roads, and pervasive checkpoints. The goal is to push Palestinian’s off the land, leaving it open for Israeli settlement. This is not a complicated issue–Israel is enacting a policy of ethnic cleansing and Apartheid onto the Palestinian peoples.
We’ve put our bodies here today to oppose Caterpillar’s participation in occupation and injustice. We disrupt business as usual and take direct action against Caterpillar because, despite years of letters, pickets, and marches, Caterpillar continues to ignore the blood on their profits. We ask workers and drivers at this center for their patience and solidarity in the struggle to do our part here, now, to end oppression where it grows boldest.
We share in the responsibility to resist colonialism, imperialism, and oppression propagated by US corporations. We believe that resisting injustice is a fundamental human concern and that the sale of Caterpillar equipment to shore-up apartheid borders, clear-cut forests and natural habitats, and devastate communities is an affront to all people everywhere.
We cannot continue to allow the voices of oppressed peoples to be silenced, no matter how distant. We are committed to holding corporations accountable for their profits, whatever it takes.
In solidarity with the people and the planet,
Macalester Peace and Justice Committee/Students for a Democratic Society.