11 arrested for blocking Zenith Energy tracks

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A total of 11 climate activists who camped on railroad tracks at the Zenith Energy facility in Northwest Portland in an effort to stop trains carrying oil from moving through the area were arrested Monday afternoon, more than 24 hours after they began blocking the tracks.

The group, Extinction Rebellion, is the Portland chapter of the internationally active climate group that most notably has wreaked havoc with London transportation over the past few weeks.

In Portland, the group dumped a load of topsoil near the tracks at the facility, 5501 NW Front Avenue, then planted a “Victory over fossil fuels garden” and placed a tiny house near the tracks early Sunday morning.

The activists remained camped throughout the night but started leaving Monday afternoon after Portland police arrested 11 people, including activist Ken Ward. 

Police said no force was used during the arrests and all 11 are charged with 2nd-degree criminal trespassing. 

Group members told KOIN 6 News they expected to be arrested but said it will be worth it. They want the City of Portland to “Shut Zenith down,” and want the area rezoned.

Zenith employees told KOIN 6 News they expected the police to remove the protesters from the tracks later Monday.

Regularly scheduled trains on these tracks have been turned away due to the protest.

According to Zenith Energy’s website, “The Portland Terminal is capable of receiving, storing, and delivering heavy and light petroleum products via Panamax sized vessels, railroad and truck loading rack.  The Portland Terminal also offers heating systems, emulsions and an on-site product testing laboratory.”

In a statement to KOIN 6 News, company officials said: “Zenith Energy operates in an environmentally responsible manner. While we respect the protestors’ First Amendment right to express their opinions, for their safety and the safety of the facility, we ask that they follow the law, and treat our employees, contractors and vendors with an appropriate level of respect.”

The BBC reported Monday more than 1000 people have been arrested since the Extinction Rebellion protests began in central London. On Monday, about 100 protesters laid down at the Natural History Museum in what they called a “die-in” that lasted about 30 minutes.

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