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Activists crowd oil rig Polar Pioneer in Elliott Bay, May 2015.

Image: David Ryder

2015: Kayaktivists in Elliott Bay protest Big Oil

In May 2015, when a semisubmersible drilling rig owned by oil giant Royal Dutch Shell and shaped like a floating fortress parked at the Port of Seattle, hundreds of activists paddled kayaks into the water to protest, putting Seattle at the center of an international debate over offshore oil and gas exploration in the thawing arctic. Some kayakers even tried to block the rig’s path as it left for the Alaskan coast. “I think humanity is going to be able to stop this rig,” KC Golden, senior policy advisor of the Northwest-based environmental group Climate Solutions, told us at the time. “Long before Arctic drilling produces commercially viable oil, I think we’re going to stand up to this kind of reckless unsustainable investment.” The following November, president Barack Obama canceled Arctic offshore drilling leases.

2017: Washington state cramps Trump’s Muslim ban

On January 28, 2017, a day after president Donald Trump issued an executive order banning citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States, about 3,000 protesters jammed inside the Seattle-Tacoma airport. Two days later, Washington attorney general Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit against Trump. In February, a Seattle judge halted the order nationwide. 

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Protesters fill Sea-Tac airport, January 28, 2017, in response to President Trump’s executive order the previous day.

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