Thursday, June 27, 2013
Day 8 of Crane Occupation
Press Release: For immediate release: June 27, 2013 Contact: Freddie Long 707-459-5267 or Jamie Chevalier 707-354-4796 Photo credit: Steve Eberhardt, Willits News High-res photos on request 707-354-4796 Daring Aerial Resupply Reaches Parched Crane-Sitter on Caltrans Tower In an action combining daring, danger and comedy, Earth First! activists succeeded in putting a climber atop the second wick drain driver, and stringing a traverse rope to the crane-sitter who had been without food and water for a week. The bold action was carried out in broad daylight Wednesday afternoon. To get to the tower, the climber had to cross a wide belt of bare earth, guarded by 2 CHP vehicles. In spite of floodlights and guards, the climber delivered his life-saving supplies, and vanished into the night. One week ago Little Lake Valley Defender and writer Will Parrish set up residence on a 2-ft wide plank halfway up one of the two 100’ towers. About 40 people entered the worksite Saturday evening to bring supplies to Parrish, who had run out of food and water and was facing cold wet weather. In a dramatic confrontation, CHP officers cut his supply rope. After a standoff of several hours, six people were arrested, including a mother and daughter who were grabbed while attempting to comply with CHP orders to leave. Concern for Parrish’s safety after four days without food or water has been mounting, and a medical team sought permission to bring water. Communication was cut when his cell phone fell from the tower the first day. During Saturday’s resupply attempt, Parrish called down from his perch: “I’ll starve before I’ll let this machine install another wick drain.” According to Parrish, who now has a phone, “I’ve just been resupplied by a real-life superhero. The machine operator started to lower the crane with him on it, and the CHP just watched.” Bystanders and press recorded the life-threatening incident on camera and video. Carrying supplies and gear, the climber scaled the tower, and attached his safety harness about 60’ up. CHP officers were preoccupied with the effort to extract one of their vehicles from the deep mud near the site’s entrance, about 100 yards away. The officers summoned several passing protesters to help them, apparently taking them for passersby walking their dogs. The protesters helped free the car, which then got stuck again. The patrol cars next to the machine were apparently unmanned at the time. Surveying the sea of mud left by three days of rain, long-time Willits resident Freddie Long observed: “This is a perfect illustration of why the wick drains are such a bad idea. This should be wetland, not a freeway.” Bypass opponents say they will stop protesting when Caltrans stops work on the current version of the bypass, which they maintain is environmentally destructive and fiscally irresponsible. Sticker price for the 6 miles of road is $210 million dollars, not counting bond interest and cost overruns, or the $300 million dollar phase 2 of the project, which Caltrans says will be necessary to bring the current project up to safety standards. Local citizens and civic organizations have long advocated a set of cheaper, less destructive alternatives. A meeting between opponents of the current project and Caltrans head Malcom Dougherty is set for July 9th.