Anarchists tried to sabotage railway near site of Amtrak derailment earlier this year

Anarchists tried to sabotage railway near site of Amtrak derailment earlier this year
Amtrak 501's dreadful end. (Image: Screen grab of Weather Mafia1 video, YouTube)

Well, this bears looking into.  Howard Portnoy reported earlier Monday on the Amtrak train derailment near DuPont, WA which so far has taken three confirmed lives.  Internet sleuths have since discovered information from earlier in 2017 about two distinct instances of attempted sabotage in nearby Olympia, WA: one in April 2017, and another period in November 2017.

The site of the 18 December derailment is about 12 miles up Interstate 5 from Olympia.  I would issue this caution at the outset: the actions of the self-styled anarchists have so far served to sabotage rail freight traffic, in an attempt to interfere with the fracking business.  (Just quoting them, here.)

So it’s not a slam-dunk that the same group or groups would have tried to sabotage an Amtrak passenger train.  That said, see the general statement of intent below, from the April event.

As to the credibility of the information: in the case of the November 2017 attempts, it is posted at the website of the “Puget Sound Anarchists,” and contains plenty of detail that comports with actual locations.  (It includes a photo of a protesters’ tent city as well.)

The April information was originally posted, also by the Puget Sound Anarchists, at the radical left site It’s Going Down (IGD).  IGD is legitimate (extensively involved in the “J20” protests at Trump’s inauguration and the counter-protests against the Charlottesville KKK/white supremacists in August), and has been linked in the past to Antifa protests.  The site is still up, but it looks like it’s being hammered by high traffic tonight, so I’m linking to an archived page above.

The original blog post at IGD was deleted; the speculation, of course, is that it was deleted because of the later reports of potential sabotage, including the event on 18 December.  (It’s not clear exactly when the post was removed.)

Several bloggers, including Mike Cernovich and John Cardillo, managed to capture archived copies of the original post, however.  Their tweets are below.  (I’ve placed them with the maps below, so you have all the relevant event information grouped together.)

An Antifa parody account linked in a tweet in June to that April report at IGD, which has caused some fact-checkers to claim that it’s a hoax.  However, the Antifa parody accounts frequently link to real reports in order to make sport of them.  (The Antifa Beverly Hills account is a scream.)

The saved post information from Cernovich and Cardillo appears legitimate.

So what happened?  First, an overview of the area.

Overview of the Washington area that has seen attempted rail sabotage in 2017 prior to the derailment in DuPont on 18 Dec. (Google map; author annotation)

The derailment on 18 December occurred here, on the railroad bridge over I-5 near the Mounts Road interchange.  It’s at the southwest tip of DuPont, on the edge of a golf course.

Location of the railroad bridge where Amtrak 501 derailed on 18 Dec. (Google map; author annotation)

Little has been reported by the authorities yet, but one thing we have seen is information that prior to going off track, the train was speeding much faster than the speed limit in the area.  Fox has that here:

Attention quickly turned to the train’s speed. A website that maps location and speed using data from Amtrak’s train tracker app showed the train was going 81.1 mph (129 kph) about a quarter of a mile from the point where it derailed, where the speed limit is significantly lower. …

A track chart prepared by the Washington State Department of Transportation shows the maximum speed drops from 79 mph (127 kph) to 30 mph (48 kph) for passenger trains just before the tracks curve to cross Interstate 5, which is where the train went off the tracks.

There have also been unconfirmed reports that something was seen on the track just ahead of the train.  I can’t locate tweets with that report now (I saw them earlier), but have heard it from both Fox and ABC, still reported as “unconfirmed.”

In November, the group called Puget Sound Anarchists tried to “blockade” the train tracks coming out of Port Olympia.

The locations of attempted train sabotage (Olympia) and derailment (DuPont) in relation to each other. (Google map; author annotation)
Area in Olympia, WA where anarchists tried to blockade railroad tracks in Nov 2017. (Google map; author annotation)

Basically, this was a tent city set up to mount occasional blockades of the tracks running through Olympia south of the Port of Olympia, a small (really, very small) port at Olympia in an inlet off Puget Sound.  It involved the usual cultural attractions:

The run of railway tracks where anarchists pondered Decolonizing Language and lit tea lights when not occupying the tracks. (Google map; author annotation)

From the high point on Jefferson as it leaves 8th Street, the Blockade truly was a circus with its poles rooted in the gravel, nestled among Scots broom and Himalayan blackberry. Blue and brown tarps haphazardly held together, probably leaking water somewhere somehow, upturned pallets and spray-painted slogans, the statement to no one and everyone in general, “Our Port Supports Fracking with Our Tax$”, and the rainbow variant of the Antifa flag, it culminated in a beautiful visual disaster that lived, respiring with the strong northbound gusts, cardiac rhythms beat out by a kid really going at it on a bass tom. …

In-and-out kids of all various backgrounds came and went, twenty-somethings, Evergreen kids, transient kids, homeless folk, thirty- to forty-year-olds bearing donations every once in a while… the daytime crew, as I was told, was a lull. The inside of the structure during the day was dormant, with most folk napping without stirring on the couches scattered about in the space. Even the pigs, as I patrolled and south and radio’d in sightings, seemed not half-concerned with the Blockade. When nights came, fairy lights, tea candles, and barrel fires lit up the Blockade, and even more folks from further strains of life came in to hang around the bonfire. Artifacts, namely, a flyer, read out a list of events happening on Saturday afternoon: Decolonizing Language, Radical Herbalism, Climb Training… Punk concerts and film screenings also transpired (and I am still sore that I missed them). On Monday I roasted marshmallows with two others, sucking the chemical combustion right off the makeshift skewer, and that was just as alright too.

It was raided by the police and removed at the end of November, according to the anonymous blogger.  Its work had been to block the track by occupying it, but that wasn’t a 24/7-type thing.  The campers took time off for Decolonizing Language and tea lights.

Orientation to location of the concrete-pouring in Apr 2017. Just outside the Port of Olympia. (Google map; author annotation)

Of more technological concern was the April 2017 sabotage, described as pouring concrete on the tracks coming out of the Port of Olympia.

(Note: the image used at the IGD post on this event appears to be a generic one.  There isn’t a stretch of the rail sections in question that would look like that from ground level.  It all runs across industrial landscape, and where there are trees they run down only one side.)

The transcript is from Debra Heine’s post at PJ Media:

Early in the morning of April 20th we poured concrete on the train tracks that lead out of the Port of Olympia to block any trains from using the tracks. We took precautions to notify BNSF (the train company) – we called them and we used wires to send a signal that the tracks were blocked. We did this not to avoid damaging a train, nothing would bring bigger grins to our faces, but to avoid the risk of injuring railway workers.

This action was done to disrupt the movement of trains carrying proppants used in natural gas fracturing. These train tracks are part of a system of pipelines, fracking wells, mines, clearcuts, control centers, fiberoptics, dams, highways and factories that cover the planet and are physical manifestations of a process that is destroying the ecosystems, cultures, and inhabitants everywhere. Behind this network of infrastructure there are politicians, CEOs and bureaucrats who have private security, cops, prison guards, non-profit directors, PR consultants and the legacy of 500 years of colonization to back them up. We oppose all of these manifestations, infrastructural, personal and ideological. We blocked the train tracks because we want to blockade the entire web of domination that is slowly killing us.

This map is crude and a little harder to make out, but what it shows is the location, just south of the port, where the Port of Olympia rail system connects with Burlington Northern-Santa Fe (and proceeds on to the south as Union Pacific).  According to the description, it’s at the junction point between the port rail system and BNSF that the concrete was poured.

The railway junction where the Puget Sound Anarchists reported pouring concrete in Apr 2017. (Rail map, Thurston County, WA)

Here is Mike Cernovich’s video of the post about the concrete pouring.

Debra Heine also notes another anarchist group posting on the Puget Sound Anarchist site that it disrupted rail traffic near Medford, Oregon with some “fun and easy” sabotage involving copper wire:

A few days ago, inspired by the Olympia train Blockade, we used copper wire to signal a blockage and disrupt rail traffic near Medford Oregon. Railways are easily accessible and everywhere. Sabotage is fun and easy.

This was on 30 November, just after the police raided the tent city in Olympia.

The copper wire incident, although down in Oregon and reported by another group, suggests a slightly greater level of sophistication than the other two attacks.  By the description, the wire was used to trigger the automated responses of the rail safety system.  Making automated stuff start reacting is a step up from placing physical obstacles.

Occurring at the same time as the power outage that took out Hartsfield-Jackson International in Atlanta, this ought to put us on the alert.  It’s not too soon to ask if these events are more than coincidence.

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J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval Intelligence officer who lives in Southern California, blogging as The Optimistic Conservative for domestic tranquility and world peace. Her articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s Contentions, Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard.


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