My story of the No Coal Export action in Helena Montana by Mark Washke

August 24, 2012

Here I was, camping in an RV park outside Helena, Montana.  We were right next to the freeway, the quiet star filled evening interrupted by a passing car.  Sheesh!  Ten minutes later another went by.  Maybe alter traffic will slack off a little.  We were then invited to rest on the deck of a local resident close to the demonstration site which was much quieter and convenient to the actions

In Helena the bustle of people at the church and the capitol ignited my excitement wonderfully.  So many people on the same page I hadn’t seen since the first marches in Bellingham to support the Occupy Wall Street movement afforded me a sigh of relief.  The group from Chicago was doing first aid and human relief. Occupy Missoula was hosting the event and Spokane showed up with a strong showing welcoming all of us from all over the West Coast, Virginia, Utah, Ohio and all.  (Nick from Missoula said 18 states were represented.)

Organizers had great police liaisons to help authorities stay in the loop on proposed actions.  This resulted in security at the capitol putting up the banners that stayed up all week.  During the messages that were flashed on the capitol building at 11:30 – 12:00 PM no one bothered us at all.  On Saturday when we were at the railroad yard police were called.  Liaisons talked to the police as everyone dispersed then police went in to investigate who called in a false report to get them there.  I hope to hear if any of the railroad people are charged in the incident.

On Saturday we did street theater at one impressive farmers market in Helena. I played the part of an evil coal executive.  We had a tug-of-war with five land commissioners in the middle (current line of defense) and those dang granola eaters on the wrong end.  It was all quite fun.

One other invaluable aspect of the trip was the non-violence training.  I learned so much on this trip.  A Whidbey Island resident, Eric blogs as Lefty Coaster.  Patrick, from Ustream has the Occupy 48 channel.  Chris does Ustream:  P91FUN.  He intends to be in Bellingham for the 31st action.  So does Ziggy from Spokane.  I am happy to talk about this experience to anyone who wants to hear more or is interested in details and contacts.  Occupy Bellingham buttons are in most of all the places mentioned.  Hope signs (hand carved by Mark) are in Chicago, Helena, Spokane, Missoula and Clancy.

Most people go on vacation to get away.  I am grateful to have been able to go vacation to get to this protest action.

Thanks greatly to Marcia (driver) and Occupy Bellingham for supporting me and the rest of us on this trip.

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