After camping near the Barley Barber Swamp for a week, 17 activists were arrested yesterday for trespassing and resisting arrest. The group, all members of Everglades Earth First!, say they were camping out to convince Florida Power & Light to open the swamp to the public due to increasing concerns that their nearby coal plant is draining the swamp of its water.
According to Earth First!, independent scientific studies have shown the swamp’s water level to be decreasing dramatically every year, but FPL denies the accusation and says they have maintained appropriate water levels under an agreement with the South Florida Water Management District.
The cypress trees in Barley Barber Swamp are the oldest in the state and perhaps the entire south-east; some trees are over 1,000 years old. FPL uses water from the swamp to fill a 17-mile cooling pond for its nearby 3750 megaWatt power plant.
The activists are still being held on charges of trespassing and resisting arrest. Everglades Earth First! posted this community bulletin requesting assistance for those in jail:
Following a five day standoff, six activists entered the swamp through a public waterway and chained themselves to trees. Eleven other activists were swept up by the police in a frivolous attempt to quell the protest. Currently, Everglades Earth First! is confronted with the immediate need to raise $18,000 to bail these courageous activists out of Martin County jail.
Direct action is a community effort that goes well beyond the risk of arrest. It requires broad support from those who wish to see grassroots efforts succeed. We hope to go to the jail on Monday with the funds to bail all seventeen activists out. We know times are tough but if everyone pitches in we can ensure that these folks don’t sit in jail for the next thirty days. Can you contribute to this effort? Just go to our website at http://www.evergladesearthfirst.org/ and click on the “Donate” paypal link on the left hand side of the page or make out a check to Everglades Earth First and send it to 822 N C Street, Lake Worth, FL 33460
Another form of support that we would like to ask for is that those concerned call FPL and demand that they drop all charges against the Barley Barber 17 and that they reopen the Barley Barber Swamp to scientific and public scrutiny. Call 305-552-3888.
Photo Credit: eschipul on Flickr under Creative Commons license.