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Pedal Power solutions to petroleum dependence and polluting vehicles: Arcata Library Bikes, Pedal Power Produce, and more!

CAOE - Committee Against Oil Exploration - stop offshore oil drilling to protect sensitive habitats and cut petroleum dependence.

Culture Change through music! The Depavers eco-rock!

Take our Pledge for Climate Protection and learn about the Global Warming Crisis Council.

SEI hometown action!
Arcata city council's proclamation against war on Iraq and Kyoto Protocol proclamation.

Overpopulation has become a reality.  Overpopulation Resources and News Tidbits

Sail Transport Network

Fact Sheets
Press Releases

Long Distance


Shades of Waco
The Invasion of Minnehaha

by T. Proctor

On Sunday, December 20,1998 at 4 a.m. outgoing Minnesota Governor Arne Carlson oversaw the largest police action in Minnesota history. The objective of the raid was to dismantle a four-month encampment of nonviolent activists known as the Minnehaha Free State.

Local citizens, including members of the Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota tribe, were occupying seven homes, four tribal  tipis and various lock-down positions on a site at the center of a battle. The struggle is between those who would see Highway 55 rerouted through regional park land, which the Mendota tribe has declared sacred, and those who are morally outraged at the prospect (see story previous page).

According to Jim Anderson, Mendota protester and witness to the raid, the troopers had been planning the assault for weeks, training in aggressive drug-war tactics with the Minneapolis Crack Team. Witnesses saw a caravan of seven Ryder trucks, 130 squad cars and three city busses traveling along Hiawatha Avenue, (Highway 55) without headlights at speeds of up to sixty m.p.h. Following were bulldozers, cherry pickers, backhoes, ambulances and fire trucks. Upon arrival, this action, dubbed by police as ìOperation Cold Snap,î became a blitzkrieg. Six hundred police armored in full riot gear, toting batons and laser-sighted weapons, poured from cars, trucks and buses then surrounded the protest site. Accompanying the police were members of state and city government, Governor Carlson, and a press team described by Anderson as ìthe policeís handpicked lap dogs.î

Officers invaded with the intensity of a military siege, aiming assault rifles and bombarding the structures with tear gas. Police swarmed the activists who fled the gassed homes coughing and vomiting. Anderson says that activists who remained in the dwellings were subject to more brutal treatment. Inside, officers restrained and handcuffed the protesters, then shot and directly applied pepper spray into their eyes and in some cases, noses and mouths. ìWe have statements and pictures of protesters with eyes burned by the stuff,î said Anderson. According to the activists involved, the torture continued behind the homes and police lines where those arrested were forced to lay in the snow for nearly an hour. Thirty-eight protestors were taken to jail. All but six were charged with misdemeanor trespassing. The ratio of officers to arrests was 16:1.

Within the next few hours police acted as a demolition crew and, using heavy equipment, leveled the site. Personal items (sleeping bags, clothing, and a two month supply of food) were burned or hauled to dumpsters. A native sweat lodge, tipis, traditional quilts and the Sacred Fire of the Dakota were damaged or destroyed in a probable violation of  Federal Law. A native American journalist on the scene was arrested as he photographed police destroying a ceremonial drum. His camera was confiscated and later returned, minus the film. Witnesses report watching Governor Carlson warm his hands over one of fourteen police bonfires.

Elected officials have come out in favor of the raid as necessary to public safety. Police cited the possible tampering of gas lines by activists as a safety risk, but Jill Walker of the local Sierra Club insists that police who are worried about gas lines do not light bonfires. On the local news, Governor Carlson referred to protestors as ìessentially outside of the lawî and claimed attempts by the officers to negotiate prior to the siege had failed. Walker contends that an offer to mediate by Jesse Taylor of the Federal Justice Department had been turned down by Minnesota Department of Transportation just days before. Further, the speed, size and stealth of  ìOperation Cold Snapî precluded any warning or attempt to negotiate. The operation, says Jim Anderson, ìwas to punish us and scare us from ever coming back.î

At press time, activists had returned to the demolished site using a donated motorhome and several tents as shelter. They vow to protect sacred oaks still standing on the site. As one protester put it, ìThey can burn our shit and torture us but weíre going to stay there as best we can.î [Auto-Free Times on the house for this gentleman!-ed.] Questions about the fiscal responsibility of this raid abound. Estimates of one million dollars have been cited. Ironically, some alternatives to the current reroute plan have been rejected as too costly. Shortly after the raid, a number of officers were given medals of valor by Mayor of Minneapolis Sharon Sayles-Belton.


Articles of interest:
Measuring and controlling the actions of governments 

Anti-globalization protest grows, with tangible results. 
WTO protests page

Tax fossil-fuel energy easily
by Peter Salonius 

UK leader calls War on Terror "bogus"

Argentina bleeds toward healing by Raul Riutor

The oil industry has plans for you: blow-back by Jan Lundberg

It's not a war for oil? by Adam Khan

How to create a pedestrian mall by Michelle Wallar

The Cuban bike revolution

How GM destroyed the U.S. rail system excerpts from the film "Taken for a Ride".

"Iraqi oil not enough for US: Last days of America?"

Depaving the world by Richard Register

Roadkill: Driving animals to their graves by Mark Matthew Braunstein

The Hydrogen fuel cell technofix: Spencer Abraham's hydrogen dream.


Ancient Forest Protection in Northern California. Forest defenders climb trees to save them.

Daniel Quinn's thoughts on this website.

A case study in unsustainable development is the ongoing crisis in Palestine and Israel.

Renewable and alternative energy information.

Conserving energy at home (Calif. Title 24)

Culture Change mailing address: P.O. Box 3387 , Santa Cruz , California 95063 USA
  Telephone 1-215-243-3144 (and fax)

Culture Change was founded by Sustainable Energy Institute (formerly Fossil Fuels Policy Action), a nonprofit organization.