'Break Free' Climate Change Protests Across the US Result in Arrests

PHOTO: A rally, march and mass civil disobedience to stop the explosive fracked oil trains in the Port of Albany was held May 14, 2016 by over 1,500 people, from Albany and from as far as Maine, Quebec and central Pennsylvania.Erik Mc Gregor/Pacific Press/Sipa USA via AP
A rally, march and mass civil disobedience to stop the explosive fracked oil trains in the Port of Albany was held May 14, 2016 by over 1,500 people, from Albany and from as far as Maine, Quebec and central Pennsylvania.

At least 57 climate change activists were arrested in conjunction with the so-called "Break Free" protests against the use of fossil fuel.

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The bulk of the arrests took place in Washington state this morning, when 52 activists were cited for trespassing on railroad tracks, according to the Skagit County Department of Emergency Management. One person was cited for resisting arrest. The other five arrests took place in Albany on Saturday on similar grounds.

In Washington, approximately 150 people had spent the night camping out on railroad tracks that lead to two refineries, according to a spokesperson for BNSF Railway. The protests were peaceful, according to the spokesperson, and the majority of activists obeyed a request to leave the tracks at 5 a.m. PT today.

The Break Free protests represent part of a "global wave" of action taking place across six continents over 12 days targeting "the world's most dangerous fossil fuels," according to a statement published by the organizers earlier this month.

"2015 was the hottest year ever recorded and the impacts of climate change are already hitting communities around the world. From rising sea levels to extreme storms, the need to act on climate change has never been more urgent. Added to that, the fossil fuel industry faces an unprecedented crisis -- from collapsing prices, massive divestments, a new global climate deal, and an ever-growing movement calling for change. The time has never been better for a just transition to a clean energy system," the group's statement reads.

Data released by NASA this January indicated that 2015 was in fact the hottest year on record.

April 2016 was also the 12th straight hottest-ever month on record, according to data released by NASA on Saturday.

Last week, ABC News reported on a study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters indicating that five Solomon Islands had been swallowed into the Pacific as a result of rising sea levels caused by climate change. Scientists have warned about the potential deleterious effects of sea level rise in South Florida, Atlantic City, and other American coastal communities.

Similar demonstrations were held around the country in an effort to highlight the issue of climate change.

Climate activists in upstate New York assembled Saturday at a crude-oil shipment hub on the Hudson River in an effort to block crude-by-rail trains and oil barges at the Port of Albany. Five people were arrested for blocking the passage of a train, according to Break Free.

"This was the culmination of our efforts to fill the gaps between the words of our politicians and what we know is actually necessary accomplish," Lindsay Meiman, the U.S. spokeswoman for Break Free told ABC News, regarding what she said was the insufficient action taken in the wake of the Paris Climate Change summit in December 2015, when nations agreed to keep the global temperature to a rise "well below" 2 degrees centigrade.

"This is the the kind of action that the world can anticipate from activists going forward," she added.

PHOTO: Greenpeace activists hold signs reading Action Now for everyones sake in front of Greenpeaces giant puppet polar bear Aurora during a protest at the COP21 United Nations climate change conference in Le Bourget, outside Paris, Dec. 9, 2015. DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images
Greenpeace activists hold signs reading "Action Now for everyone's sake" in front of Greenpeace's giant puppet polar bear Aurora during a protest at the COP21 United Nations climate change conference in Le Bourget, outside Paris, Dec. 9, 2015.

Meiman, 23, said the group advocates a "rapid and just transition away from fossil fuels" that involves eliminating fossil fuels infrastructure as a response to the rapid rise of global temperatures.

Break Free also held marches in Los Angeles, Washington, and Chicago this weekend, with the total participants numbering in the thousands, according to Meiman.

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