From children to grandparents, concerned members of the Sierra Club Detroit and Windsor on Watch (WOW) joined forces to make some noise against tar sands, petcoke and dirty air on both sides of the Detroit River Tuesday, June 25. The rally’s purpose was to raise awareness about the growing petroleum coke piles. Petcoke piles are dubbed “dirtier than the dirtiest coal” by U.S. Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich). As the petcoke piles grow, concern for their environmental impacts grow as well. According to WOW member Randy Emerson, the coke piles serve as a graphic reminder that no region of Canada will be spared the environmental impact of the Tar sands oil, “these piles are not only dangerous to the water and air but are meant to be shipped to power stations in Canada and elsewhere where it will produce even more greenhouse gases than traditional coal and further contributing to climate change”.
Kerrel and I spent the day prepping for the rally by making signs and posters! I don’t think I’ve colored that much in a longgg time. Anyways, we went straight from the office to the demonstration at 7pm and it was really cool because we could actually see the Canadian group on the other side of the river! They had about 60-70 people there at one point and the even cooler part was that we could hear them too! As if the rally wasn’t interesting enough already, a woman separate from the Sierra Club jumped the fence we were rallying outside of, ran away from border patrol and jumped into the Detroit river with nothing but a swimsuit and a small inner tube…all for activism. Although Rhonda’s all for activism as well, she made it pretty clear to us that endangering your own life or the safety of others is never the way to go. The Detroit River is notorious for its strong under current. After someone immediately called the coast guard, 3 firetrucks, police cars, ambulances and 2 boats rushed out to attend to the situation. Craziness.
Despite the momentary distractions, the rally was successful! I believe the joint partnership between WOW and the Sierra Club meant something more than just a demonstration. The partnership symbolizes a growing united global resistance against the impact of climate pollution. The time to take action is now.