The banner blurb for the documentary “Black Ice” states “When preventing a crime makes you a criminal, giving up is not an option.” Giving up actually is an option, but if you want to see what commitment needs to look like in the 21st century, check out a stirring example of how Greenpeace stands up to the real criminals, the big time criminals of our age.
The film plays like a thriller with confrontation on the high seas, guns, jail cells, courtrooms. What crime was the “Arctic 30” preventing? With Arctic ice turning to Arctic water, oil companies with a bad stewardship record are scrambling to dip oil sucking straws into a harsh environment.
Set aside, if you can, that such fossil fuel investment is being pushed where global climate change has already contributed to turning Arctic ice to water. The risks of incidents like the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico are too likely, too costly.
Well documented on film, the Russian Coast Guard escalated their attempts to stop non-violent protest in international waters. Besides gunfire and cannon fire, troops by helicopter jumped the Greenpeace vessel. They took over the boat. They towed it five days and threw 30 dedicated activists in prison. Lacking quite a bit in the way of due process, the best charge the Russians could come up with was piracy. Who, one might ask, are the pirates?
Millions worldwide swelled support that eventually undermined one of Russia’s weaker attempts at flexing muscle and bluster, but only after 30 people from 19 countries spent 2 months in jail, anxious about being locked up for years.
Greenpeace has been on the front lines for decades. The shipmates in “Black Ice” never anticipated the level of attention that this particular mission would generate. Oil operations continue apace in the Arctic. Greenpeace got out of jail and went out protesting some more.