Sustained Hunger Strike Launched with Blockade at Valero’s Houston Refinery

UPDATE: Monday, 4:00 AM – Diane is Out of Jail

Due to Diane’s compromised health in jail while on her hunger strike she opted to be bonded out. Her health is now stable as she continues her hunger strike to demand Valero fully divest from Keystone XL.

UPDATE: Sunday, 5:00 PM – Diane is Having Kidney Pains, Poor Jail Conditions Putting Her at Risk

The water in the Harris County Jail is notoriously dirty, and it seems to be jeopardizing Diane’s health. Bob and Diane have now gone nearly four entire days without any food. Given Diane’s compromised immune state the additional stress from refusing to drink dirty water is taking its toll. Pending Diane’s final decision, TSB is ready to bail her out if her health is at serious risk.

UPDATE: Saturday, 3:00 PM – Bob and TSB Friends Visit Diane In Jail

Today Bob is paying a visit to Diane in jail to send his lifelong friend some much deserved love and support. Bob is still feeling energized and excited to be able to advocate for Diane and the ongoing hunger strike.

UPDATE: Friday, 5:00 PM – Bob is Out of Jail

Bob Lindsey was in good spirits this afternoon when greeted by supporters upon his release from jail. Today is his second day without a meal, and although he says he’s feeling a little weak, Bob is still resolute in his mission. Bob plans on getting a well deserved night of sleep and then back to jail tomorrow to visit Diane.

UPDATE: 4:00 PM – Diane and Bob Refuse Their First Meal in Jail – The Hunger Strike Has Begun

Blockading the dirty fuel and chemicals entering the Manchester community was just the opening salvo of Bob and Diane’s action. Today the two lifelong friendbegin a sustained hunger strike to demand that Valero, which has made the largest commitment to tar sands from Keystone XL, divest entirely from this dangerous project and invest that money into the health and well-being of the people of Manchester. Hunger strikers will begin their protest in the Harris County Jail. 

Bob and Diane will abstain from all food and juices while in jail; unfortunately, the water in the Harris County Jail is known to be dirty and could potentially compromise their health while their immune systems are in a weakened state. With your support we can raise money for their commissary accounts. The funds in these accounts can be used for prisoners to buy bottled water, letters, stamps, other items while inside jail.

UPDATE: 11:30 AM – Diane and Bob Launch Their Hunger Strike in Jail to Get Valero to Divest from KXL

“Keystone XL will bring the dirtiest fuel on the planet right down to the Gulf, where already overburdened communities like Manchester will be forced to suffer even more,” said Diane. “After decades of toxic air in Manchester, I refuse to just let them continue to punish this community. I won’t eat until Valero divests from Keystone XL.”

Read Diane and Bob’s full bios here. See more photos from today’s action here.

UPDATE: 11:00 AM – Diane Has Been Removed From the Truck and Arrested 

Diane Wilson, who locked her neck to a tanker truck entering the Valero oil refinery, has been arrested for her heroic act. Houston Police and Fire Department cut the lock around her neck off with hydraulic “jaws of life.”

Community residents chanting nearby: “Arrest Valero! Pollution is a crime! Arrest Valero, Not Diane” and “Valero, Valero, what do you say? How much cancer did you cause today?”

Diane being removed by Houston police and fire department.

UPDATE 10:48 AM – Bob Has Been Arrested

Bob Lindsey Jr. has been arrested for locking himself to a truck entering the Valero refinery in the Manchester neighborhood in Houston.

UPDATE: 10:40 AM – Community Rallies in Support

Residents from the Manchester community rally to support Diane and Bob who have locked themselves to trucks entering the Valero refinery. They chant: “What do we want? Clean air! When do we want it? NOW!” and “Shut down Valero! Protect Manchester!”

Community members living in the shadow of Valero’s refinery gather nearby.

UPDATE: 10:30 AM – Bob Has Been Declared “Under Arrest”, Holding Strong

Bob and Diane have locked themselves to trucks entering the Valero refinery in Houston and have blocked access to the polluting facility. Valero is one of the largest investors in Keystone XL. About a dozen police are on the scene and have declared Bob under arrest for “blocking a roadway”, but he is holding strong and remains locked to the truck.

UPDATE: 10:00 AM – Over a Dozen Police Are on the Scene – Many Trucks Blocked From Refinery

Reports from the scene say that there are somewhere between “over a dozen” to “too many to count” police outside the Valero refinery.

Several trucks have had their entry to the refinery blocked and are backed up in a long line down the road.

UPDATE: 9:30 AM – Houston Police and Fire Department Arrive on the Scene

Houston Police Department has bolt cutters out and is threatening to cut Bob from the Valero truck. Follow the action live on Twitter and facebook.

UPDATE: 9:00 AM – Diane Wilson and Bob Lindsey Jr. Lock Themselves to Trucks Outside Valero’s Houston Refinery

Activists Begin Sustained Hunger Strike, Demand That Valero Divest from Keystone XL Pipeline

HOUSTON, TX – THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2012 8:00AM –-Longtime Gulf Coast activists Diane Wilson and Bob Lindsey Jr. have locked their necks to oil tanker trucks destined for Valero’s Houston Refinery in solidarity with Tar Sands Blockade’s protests of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline. Valero Energy Corp. is among the largest investors in TransCanada’s toxic tar sands pipeline that will terminate near the community of Manchester, located in the shadow of Valero’s refinery. Not only are Wilson and Lindsey blockading the Valero refinery, the two lifelong friends have also vowed to begin a sustained hunger strike demanding that Valero divest from Keystone XL and invest that money into the health and well-being of the people of Manchester.

With a 90% Latino population, Manchester’s relationship with the Valero refinery is a textbook case of environmental racism. Residents there have suffered through decades of premature deaths, cancers, asthma and other diseases attributable to the refinery emissions. With little financial support for lawsuits and without the political agency necessary to legislatively reign-in criminal polluters like Valero, the community suffers while Valero posts record profits.

Check out Diane and Bob’s testimonial video:

All my life the Gulf Coast has been an environmental sacrifice zone, and enough is enough,” declared Diane Wilson, who spent over twenty years organizing to stop chemical plants from dumping toxins directly into Gulf waters. “Keystone XL will bring the dirtiest fuel on the planet right down to the Gulf, where already overburdened communities like Manchester will be forced to suffer even more. After decades of toxic air in Manchester, I refuse to just let them continue to punish this community. I won’t eat until Valero divests from Keystone XL.”

Wilson, a fourth-generation Gulf Coast shrimper, is no stranger to civil disobedience. After years of fighting industrial pollution in her hometown of Seadrift, TX, her willingness to use civil disobedience in the struggle for clean water and the successes it wrought for her community changed the landscape of environmental justice along the Gulf Coast.

Newly designated by the Waterkeeper Alliance as the San Antonio Bay Waterkeeper, Bob Lindsey Jr. was born and raised in Calhoun County, which has highest rate of cancer of any county in TX. Lindsey also has a shrimping heritage stretching back five generations. His sister has had four episodes of cancer, and his father and nephew both died of rare disorders while in their forties. All of these diseases are traceable to the chemical facilities around which Bob’s family members lived and worked.

Me? I’m healthy. They’re the ones I’m fighting for. We have to be prepared to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves or who are too afraid to fight for themselves. That’s why I’m here.”

Diane and Bob’s decision to hunger strike in protest of TransCanada’s Keystone XL and challenge Valero’s longstanding disregard for the health and safety of the people of Manchester pushes the boundaries of the Gulf Coast environmental movement yet again, explains Ramsey Sprague, a Louisiana Gulf Coast-born Tar Sands Blockade spokesperson. “Manchester deserves justice as do all communities treated as energy sacrifice zones. Corporations like Valero and TransCanada cannot seem to function without violating the health and safety of the people everywhere from Alberta to Manchester.”

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