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Police Raiding Wick Stitcher Occupation- July 1st Day 12

by EF!Humboldt ~ June 20th, 2013. Filed under: Climate Justice, Earth First!, Tree-sits, caltrans.


Update 7/1/13 Noon:

Just in from EF!ers on the scene. The CHP has cut Will out of his lock box and arrested him. Amanda Sensemen, aka “Warbler”, has also been arrested at the site.

UPDATE 7/1/13 10:20 am:

It appears that an extraction attempt is imminent. Two cherry pickers have arrived on site along with 50 police. The cherry pickers are raised to Will. The CHP officers reportedly had guns pointed at Will.


photo from Save Our Little Lake Valley website.

UPDATE 6/30/13 5:00 pm:

A new statement from Will:

“Though the sun sizzles down on my platform I am as committed as ever to being on this crane as long as I physically can be, protecting Little Lake Valley with my body. The support of many many courageous and generous people is making this possible. I am ready for whatever next week brings.”

UPDATE 6/28/13 11:00 am:

Will reports that “all’s been quiet today”.

UPDATE 6/28/13 4:45 pm:

Mass Phone TEXT MESSAGE sent from Will, reads:

crane sit + Winged Froglamander + two days of rain outs + technical difficulties = 0 new wick drains in Little Lake Valley  since Monday.


This editor would like to +Will Parish to that equation, for with out which this action wouldn’t be happening.  Thank you Will!

UPDATE 6/28/13 1:40 pm:

A new statement from Will:

“This is a relatively small valley by population and extent, but the scale
of destruction is very large. The Willits Bypass is the most destructive
project in the region in a long time. For us this is the struggle that is
defining earth defense and direct action resistance in this area, and
probably will for quite a while. People who have the ability and motivation
to come help are needed. We are small town, a small valley, being bullied
by one of the biggest state government institutions in the country.
In terms of their massively bloated budget and lack of accountability, Caltrans is like a state-level version of the pentagon. We need help from outside if we are to stave off this assault. This is our local manifestation of tar sands and keystone. This is the local manifestation of the economy of violence.”

UPDATE 6/28/13 1:00 pm:

This update came directly from Will via cell phone:

This morning, the CHP came out with a climber and told Will they were going to cut the traverse rope to the other crane.

Lt. Elrod, the CHP’s second in command of the region, then told Will that they would retract their offer to allow him food and water if he didn’t cut it himself. The resupply is scheduled for 6 pm. In a decision that he regrets, Will cut the traverse line.

The Caltrans workers then turned it on and moved it a little ways to where they had been installing wick drains. Then they realized the platform was still up there and could fall. They lowered the crane and removed the platform. For some reason the machine remains inactive and in that position.

(It was incorrectly reported that they installed wick drains on this day)

Lt. Elrod told Will he was going to come up in a small cherry picker to talk. Then he asked Will if he’d get into the bucket with him to talk, and Lt. Elrod would then let him go back up. Will declined and said they should investigate the machinery operator who threatened to kill the other climber, Froglamander.

Elrod said they’ll investigate that, but didn’t write down any of the info Will gave him about the operator. Then he told Will he’d need to talk to the other climber and could Will give him their contact info? Will said he’d pass on the request (LOL).

Elrod asked what it would take to get him to come down on his own, Will said they’d have to cancel the project. Elrod offered to cite and release him, but Will laughed him off, saying he already turned the Sherrif down on the same offer when he was starving and on the verge of hypothermia.

Read a previous statement from Will, aka Red Tail, which he wrote in a tree-sit-
“The Greatest Gift Mendocino County Could Give The World Is To Stop The Willits Bypass”


UPDATE 6/27/13 10:45 am:

Yesterday afternoon, Will was joined by a second climber atop the neighboring wetland drying machine.
The climber, “Froglamander”, was able to get up about 30 ft. before the CHP officers noticed. They had been having trouble with heavy slick mud, and one of their cars appears to have remained stuck for over 24 hours.

Earlier that day, the CHP had Will’s mother on the phone on loud speakers trying to get him to come down. The Sherrif of Mendocino County also tried to entice him down, saying he would cite and release Will and take him out to lunch. Will refused, even though he had not eaten for over 3 days, has been critically low on water and was wet for much of the rain storm. He now has more food and water and spirits are high all around! The CHP presence at the site is minimal now.

New 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.

UPDATE 6/26/13 11:45 pm:

Will has been joined by second climber on the other wick drain stitcher!! More tomorrow….


UPDATE 6/26/13 11:30 am:

Will is currently wrapped up in his tarp waiting out the last of the storm. He has been out of food for four days and has been surviving on rain water.

The four Willits residents who were being held after the re-supply attempt on the 22nd have been released.

In addition, Martin Reign Katz is still in jail serving 2.5 months for “threatening or forcibly resisting” four CHP officers. During his extraction from a tree-sit he was shot by CHP officers with bean bag rounds from a shotgun to get him to comply.

Also, the tree-sit in a giant oak on the north end of Willits continues.

Caltrans says they will begin pile-driving next week. The shockwaves from this are known to cause fish kills.

Read fresh news reports on the situation:
Willits News

UPDATE 6/25/13 10:30 am:

Will says he’s soaked from the rain but doing ok. Just to recap; Will is on his 6th day sitting atop the wick drain crane. His platform is 2 ft by 7 ft. The day before he went up the crane, a crowd of protestors flooded onto the site and the machines were shut down. He’s been out of food for over two days and water is low.

UPDATE 6/25/13 9:30 am:

We went down to the train tracks to try and ask Will how he’s doing. He could hear us howling to him but we couldn’t make out what he was saying due to the distance. He’s sitting in the middle of his platform in his sleeping bag with his legs hanging over the edge. His blue tarp is set up overhead, hopefully doing it’s job keeping rain off of him. The floodlights are still on but no work is being done on the bypass, presumably due to the weather. The ground is saturated. The CHP is still on site, dressed in neon lime rain jackets.


UPDATE 6/24/13 10:40 am:

The rains haven’t deterred Will, he’s still holding strong and collecting water from his tarp. Four people are still in jail after being arrested in the attempt to resupply him.

New Video of Re-Supply Attempt:

UPDATE 6/23/13 1:00 pm:

There’s been intermittent rain and Will is managing to collect some water from his tarp. Heavy rain is expected on Monday and showers on Tuesday. We’re hoping his tarp is sufficient to keep him dry.

UPDATE 6/23/13 12:40 am:

Last night, a crowd of about 40 supporters of Will walked onto the wetlands draining site to attempt a re-supply. Will is currently out of food and running low on water. He shouted to everyone present that he would rather starve than come down and let the stitcher crane continue drying out the wetlands.



UPDATE 6/22/13 12:45 am:

Will is holding strong and shutting down the crane for a third day. The crane was also shut down the day before he went up by a large crowd, making this the fourth day the machine has sat idle. Will has given a statement that was written by supporters on site. See below

  • MEDIA CONTACT: Warbler (707) 841-0197
    for questions, up-to-date info & interviews with people on the ground and in communication with Will
  • from Little Lake Valley Defenders: Will Parrish’s action of occupying the wick drill stitcher1 is stopping the wick drain stitcher from operating. The action began on Thursday morning, June 20, 2013. CalTrans [California Department of Transportation] trucks first discovered Will at 5:30am June 20th, when they came to begin their work day. This action is severely slowing down CalTrans from completing this drilling phase of the project. CalTrans has two of these stitchers, and now can only operate at half capacity. People who want to come out, get involved, or give support are welcome to call (707) 841-0197 or (707) 540-1526. PDF of this Release attached.

    Here’s Will Parrish’s statement:

    (dictated from atop the wick drain stitcher.)

    “I have put my body inside the wick drain stitcher because direct actions like these are the only thing slowing down the destruction of Little Lake Valley [Willits, CA] by CalTrans. These wetlands, as well as the other areas we are striving to protect, are defenseless without us. While I commend people who have pursued the lawsuit that was heard in federal court Friday, June 21st, I put little faith in the legal system to do the right thing. On behalf of past, present, and future generations, we must not allow such unnecessary and wasteful projects as the Willits Bypass to happen anymore. I am putting my body on the line to protect these forests, mountains, and water because I know that the forest, mountains, and water protect all of us! I know we can stop this project through continued resistance.” - Will Parish

    A wick drain stitcher is about 100 feet tall and connected to an excavator body on big treads. The machine has been drilling holes, approx 80 ft. deep and inserting long fibrous wicks. The purpose of this hole drilling and wick insertion is to suck out the groundwater, bringing it to the surface so that it evaporates. It is how CalTrans plans to dry out the wetlands here. CalTrans’ Willits Bypass plan calls for about 55,000 of these wicks.


    UPDATE 6/21/13 10:50 am:

    The machine Will is on has been turned on by Caltrans. They say it’s sinking into the ground and they have to stabilize it. Just now heard, they lifted the tower he was on about two feet, slid a metal plate under it and set it back down. The machine is now turned off.

    UPDATE 6/21/13 10:30 am:

    Will is still hanging in there. Yesterday, Caltrans and California Highway patrol attempted to extract him. They tried to gain access to his perch via cherry picker and remove him. As they approached, he pulled out a lock box and attached himself to the frame of the crane tower. The cherry picker team decided to give up at that point.

    Friends and supporters have kept up a 24 hour vigil to keep him company and observe how he’s being treated. We’ve been posted across a chain link fence about 100 ft away from the crane. CHP and Caltrans had flood lights on him all night but there were no incidents.


    We came down to Little Lake Valley on Wednesday to help in the fight against Caltrans ongoing wetlands destruction. Today marks two consecutive days of action. Please stay tuned. A local activist is currently occupying a 150 ft. crane to halt its work drying out the wetlands.


    See Also: Forest Defenders Blog and Save our Little Lake Valley

    1 Response to Police Raiding Wick Stitcher Occupation- July 1st Day 12

    1. Earth First! Humboldt » Will Parrish in Court Today and Tomorrow

      [...] hearing. He is being charged with three identical infractions related to trespassing after spending 12 days high up on a machine used to install wick drains into wetlands for highway construction. The other charges are believed [...]