“It was quite a different kind of arrest,” 92-year-old Shirley Morrison told the Washington Post of her recent detention in Seattle, where she and five others were arrested Tuesday for protesting oil drilling in the Arctic. “[The police] were nice to us.”
Morrison is one of the “Raging Grannies,” a group of protesters who set up camp near Seattle’s Terminal 5 to protest the launch of the Royal Dutch Shell oil drilling rig. She’s been arrested three times before; her first time was over 50 years ago at a rally to help people of color get jobs in her area. Other notable protests on her résumé: a rally at the World Bank and, oh, all of the times she has chained herself to nuclear facilities.
Morrison helped found the Seattle branch of the Raging Grannies – an international group of activist grandmothers – in 1995. “Grannies are best equipped to make public corrupt things that have been hidden,” the group’s manifesto reads. “From the most ancient times, the strong, wise, older women were the ones who advised, mediated and fought for what was right.”
At the protest Tuesday, the Grannies outlasted their younger counterparts by several hours after the police showed up, singing folk songs with tweaked lyrics. “Some of the younger generation don’t get the older songs,” Morrison said. “So we try to come up with new ones.”
Protesters have frequently been seen at the Shell rig Polar Pioneer, which was recently approved for drilling in the Arctic, for the past month. Protesters, who contend that drilling puts the fragile Arctic environment at the risk of a spill, disrupted train traffic at the area for about three hours, but a Shell spokesman told Reuters that work on the rig continues as planned.
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Despite that, the day was a victory for Morrison and the rest of the Grannies: As police sawed through the various chains, ropes and tape the women had used to bind themselves together, the Seattle Times reported a chant being taken up by onlookers: “Rock on, grannies.”