Dozens of so-called “kayaktivists” and marchers also participated in the protest over fossil fuels and Arctic drilling
Authorities cleared the railroad tracks of protesters and arrested 52 climate activists Sunday morning in Skagit County, after a two-day shutdown.
About 150 people spent the night in tents and sleeping bags on the tracks near two refineries near Anacortes, according to BNSF Railway spokesman Gus Melonas.
They were asked to leave at about 5 a.m. and most gathered their belongings and left the area, Melonas said.
“It was peaceful,” he said. “Eighty percent removed their belongings and cleared out.”
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The 52 people arrested were cited for trespassing, according to the Skagit County Department of Emergency Management. One person was also cited for resisting arrest.
Skagit County Sheriff Will Reichardt said that before anyone was arrested, officers advised protesters that they could move to another designated location and demonstrate.
A spokeswoman for the protesters said she expected everyone arrested would be processed and released from police custody.
Emily Johnston said protests would continue around Anacortes on Sunday, but she didn’t expect people to return to the railroad tracks.
Johnston, who had participated in a blockade of the Seattle harbor to protest Shell Oil’s plans to drill for oil in the Arctic, said the success of protests like the one in Anacortes can mostly be seen in the way they inspire people to speak out about climate change.
The rail line has been closed since Friday because of the protests, and trains were to start running again Sunday afternoon after a cleanup and safety sweep of the tracks, Melonas said.
Protesters in kayaks, canoes, on bikes and on foot also took place in demonstrations near Anacortes, about 70 miles north of Seattle, to demand action on climate and an equitable transition away from fossil fuels such as oil and coal.
In upstate New York, climate activists gathered Saturday at a crude-oil shipment hub on the Hudson River in an action targeting crude-by-rail trains and oil barges at the Port of Albany. A group of activists sat on tracks used by crude-oil trains headed to the port. Albany is a key hub for crude-by-rail shipments from North Dakota’s Bakken shale region.