Meet the Rappers and ‘Kayaktivists’ Out to Stop Shell’s Giant Oil Rig
When Rolling Stone arrives at her house at 5:30 Monday morning, Pestaño hasn’t slept much. She’d stayed up until just a few hours earlier working on a DJ set to accompany the march later that day. But it turns out the music isn’t necessary to inspire the crowd as it departs around 8 a.m., daring arrest by taking over several lanes of traffic, the bridges and roadways flanked by police. They march to Terminal 5, where the rig awaits.
The protest achieves its goal for the day: The main gates of Terminal 5 are completely shut down, and organizers report seeing workers turned away from other entrances. A spokesperson for the port confirms that Shell’s business was disrupted; it sent fewer employees to work in anticipation of the protests, and they had only a “light day’s work.” (Shell did not respond to a request for comment.) In general, the police were non-confrontational, and they made no arrests. The two protests combined likely represent one of the largest offshore drilling protests to take place in the U.S. since the aftermath of the 1969 Santa Barbara offshore oil spill.
As the protesters march – Shell’s rig looming to the left and police on either side – the mood grows increasingly festive and defiant. They vow to keep coming back until Shell is thrown off its timeline and is out of the Arctic. Warden raps, and others lead boisterous chants. Then Pestaño takes the mic again. This time, she spurs the crowd into joining her as she smiles, jumping in the air, fist pumping, for a Tagalog call and response.
“Mabu, mabu, mabu!” she yells.
“Hay, hay, hay!”
The words roughly translate to “give life,” or “long life.”
After, she reveals what the chant means to her: “We are at the end of a long day, but still in unity. We will continue to resist and build this movement together.”