Community News

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Law enforcement moved in at dawn Sunday morning to end an encampment on the Burlington-to-Anacortes rail line servicing the March's Point refineries, but protests continued on Fidalgo Bay and on March’s Point.

A coordinated team of law enforcement officers arrested 52 people, none from Skagit County, early Sunday morning on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks near Farm to Market Road, about five miles east of the Shell and Tesoro refineries.

County Sheriff Will Reichardt told reporters, “At about 4 o’clock this morning, a number of officers met and about 5:15 we went down to the site and caught the protest group a little bit by surprise, I think, so early in the morning, which made it easier for us to affect the arrests.“

All those arrested were cited for trespassing; one protester was also cited for resisting arrest. There were no injuries to protesters or officers during the arrests.

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“We’ve been in communication throughout the weekend with protesters to let them know that they risked arrest for trespassing on the railroad tracks,” Reichardt said. “Prior to making any arrests, we did advise protesters that they could move to designated locations near March’s Point and lawfully demonstrate.”

He said about one-half of the protesters moved off the railroad property and across the road.

Summing up the first two days of the event Reichardt said, “There’s not been anybody hurt, which is a primary goal. The refineries and businesses in the area, it seems, have been able to continue to do business, which is one of our goals. Sometimes in events like this you think maybe we over-planned, but in this case I think were just very prepared.”

More than 100 protesters, part of a three-day demonstration aimed at reducing dependence on oil, had been camped on the tracks since Friday evening.

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Many of those who left the blockade and avoided arrest joined others to stage a march and rally on West March Point Rd. as far as the Tommy Thompson trestle, which was where police st stopped them.

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Other protesters took to their kayaks and rowed out onto Fidalgo Bay from Seafarers’ Memorial Park in the afternoon.