‘Raging Grannies' arrested for blocking oil and coal trains in Spokane protest

SPOKANE, Wash. --- Spokane Police arrested a group of grandmothers protesting the transportation and eventual burning of fossil fuels in Spokane on Wednesday morning, after they conducted a sit-in on railroad tracks.

Police booked three “Raging Grannies,” as they call themselves, on charges of obstructing a train and misdemeanor trespassing. Nancy Nelson, 70, Margie Heller, 67, and Deena Romoff, 69, all face charges.

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A spokesperson for the three activists said in a press release that their protest blocked a number of rail lines, including an empty oil car train headed east and a fully loaded coal train headed west. The spokesperson said in all, their occupation of the track stopped rail traffic for more than an hour.

“There is incredible denial surrounding this issue of fossil fuels and no one is talking about the perils that await us if government and societies do not take action now,” said Romoff in a written statement, according to the spokesperson. “This is why I need to take action now...I can no longer wait!”

Officials from BNSF Railway said the protest halted 11 trains and stalled crossing for about an hour.

Photo: Direct Action Spokane

Trains passing through the area can carry crude oil and coal from across North America.

“Transporting fossil fuels is done for one purpose only: they will be burned”, said Heller in a statement. “If burned, they will add to the greenhouse gases which are already causing serious climate change. Continuing to add to climate change factors puts the health and perhaps the very existence of future generations at risk”

The Raging Grannies began in 1987 in Victoria, British Columbia as part of a protest against potentially nuclear US Navy warships and submarines in the area.