Four arrested at megaload protest in Moscow
Several of the protesters passively resisted arrest, and law enforcement officers crammed limp bodies into a Latah County Sheriff’s Office van.
Some who weren’t arrested yelled and made lewd gestures at police and the megaload convoy, while counterprotesters called for law enforcement to make arrests and get people out of the crosswalk.
The nighttime protest started out relatively slowly, with a small group of people gathering outside the Pie Hole restaurant at Second and Washington streets around 10 p.m. Thursday.
Starting around 10:30 p.m., the protesters began marching through downtown Moscow with the Moscow Volunteer Peace Band.
By the time the megaload rolled through downtown Moscow shortly after midnight, hundreds of protesters, counterprotesters and spectators lined Washington Street.
Greg Larson, a Latah County resident, smeared black paint on his face and carried a large sign reading “Mega ugly.”
“Ultimately, I don’t have to make a moral statement, but an aesthetic one,” he said. “(The oil sands project in Canada) is just too ugly.”
He said he was tired after getting off work Thursday but felt a duty to protest.
“If they can do that in Syria, I can do this in Moscow,” he said.
University of Idaho law student Al Baker and a group of his friends stood on a corner opposite the protesters, holding signs supporting the megaloads and oil sands project.
He said he didn’t think the megaload was something worth protesting, given the amount of work done to determine the feasibility of its travel plan.
Fellow counterprotester and law student Reed Colten said the oil sands project didn’t concern him.
“Have you been to the gas station lately?” he asked. “The more oil, the better.”
Jennifer Emerson, a UI senior studying environmental science, said she protested the megaload because she is opposed to the oil sands project.
“It’s one of the most environmentally destructive practices on the planet,” she said, holding a sign that said “Heart of the monster.”
Marcie Miller said her husband, Greg Freistadt, in addition to Bill French, Brett Haverstick and Vince Murray were among the protesters arrested early Friday morning.
Helen Yost, community organizer for Wild Idaho Rising Tide, said several protesters were going to the Latah County Jail to keep in touch with those incarcerated.
“Wild Idaho Rising Tide organized the event, but we were amazed and surprised that so many showed up,” she said. “We’re very proud of Moscow. We think this has been the most successful direct confrontation with the megaload in the entire Northwest.”
Moscow Mayor Nancy Chaney said she was saddened by the passing of the megaload through Moscow to the Alberta Tar Sands, but felt the protest was successful.
“I thought the protest was peaceful and powerful,” she said. “I think law enforcement, from my observations, handled it well,” she said.
Chaney said she hopes Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil will consider an alternative route from the Port of Pasco up U.S. Highway 395 then Interstate 90 through Washington and Idaho and into Montana to Interstate 15.
“I think that is a far more rational route than taking a two-lane, deteriorating highway through rural Idaho towns,” she said.
Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil says it plans to transport at least 60 shipments from the Port of Lewiston up U.S 95 and I-90, though not every load will be of this size, which was 24-feet wide, 14-feet tall and 208-feet long.