A singing, chanting crowd of demonstrators protested oil and coal trains and fossil-fuel pollution at BNSF railroad headquarters Monday.
More than 40 demonstrators filled the headquarters office of the BNSF railroad in Seattle on Monday to protest the extraction and transport of fossil fuel.
With banners and signs, songs and chants, the demonstrators, including the Raging Grannies, were allowed beyond the building’s lobby into BNSF offices to see railroad managers, said Gus Melonas, spokesman for BNSF.
“They indicated it would be peaceful and there were people with questions about trains. They were discussing with railroad people some of their concerns, and our railroad people were listening,” Melonas said.
“We allowed it to occur this time but we will not allow it to occur in the future,” Melonas said. “It was disruptive, no doubt about it. But it was nonconfrontational other than a few irate members.”
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The demonstration was one of many actions worldwide around the 21st annual climate talks under way in Paris until Dec. 12.
“We are in solidarity with the rights of all indigenous people, and with what is going on in Paris right now,” said Afrin Sopariwala of Rising Tide Seattle, which, along with Raging Grannies, 350 Seattle, Got Green and Bayan PNW, turned out activists for the demonstration.
“We don’t want our region to be a place of dirty fossil fuel,” Sopariwala said. “We are going to keep up constant pressure.”
The demonstrators presented a letter to BNSF demanding the railroad respect the treaty rights of Native Americans, in particular the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, which has sued the railroad in federal court to limit oil-train traffic through its reservation near La Conner. That suit is pending.
Demonstrators also said trains carrying potentially explosive Bakken crude should be staffed with a minimum of two people. A third demand was that trains should not pass by Seattle sports stadiums while games are in progress.
Melonas said the railroad moved 99.99 percent of its materials without incident in 2014.
Most of the demonstrators arrived at about 10:15 a.m. They left around noon at the request of the railroad and some 20 Seattle police officers, as well as BNSF security.
Thirteen demonstrators who initially refused to leave were escorted from the building and issued citations for criminal trespass. They left after being cited.