If you see folks wandering the streets of downtown Missoula on First Friday with tire treads on their faces, don't call 911. They're just willing participants in All Against the Haul's ongoing anti big-rigs campaign.
"We'll have an army of volunteers out there painting people's faces with tire tracks and handing out stickers saying, 'I'm being run over by big oil,'" campaign coordinator Zack Porter says of the group's plans for Friday evening. "This is kind of the crux of just the early part of this campaign. There's still a long way to go."
All Against the Haul and its Idaho counterpart, Fighting Goliath, began "shifting gears" last week, dropping the fight against ConocoPhillips in favor of using the company's loads as a demonstration platform against a larger heavy haul proposal by ExxonMobil subsidiary Imperial Oil. It's a move opposition leaders have discussed for months, and one they felt prudent in light of Idaho's approval of ConocoPhillips' shipments.
"We've decided strategically that this is the right thing to do, to shift gears to Exxon," Porter says. "But it doesn't legitimize what's going on right now."
The first of ConocoPhillips' four loads left the Port of Lewiston earlier this week and will spend several days at Lolo Pass before descending to Missoula. A second shipment will follow late next week. Fighting Goliath co-founder Linwood Laughy says his group will monitor the Conoco loads as they roll through.
"We're going to do what it takes to observe [ConocoPhillips'] compliance with the permit," Laughy says.
Last Saturday, about 120 citizens from Idaho and Montana—including, according to Laughy, Nez Perce tribal members and one Idaho state legislator—lined the Memorial Bridge in Lewiston before marching to the port to protest in front of the ConocoPhillips loads. The rally, which drew only nine heavy haul supporters, was just the first. Porter says All Against the Haul plans to host a similar demonstration at Lolo Pass this weekend, with a second rally at the heavy haul stop between Lolo and Missoula later on. Details are forthcoming, but Porter hopes for and anticipates hundreds of participants.
Anyone looking for All Against the Haul on First Friday can find them on the corner of Higgins and Main.
"It's time to get the message across," Porter says. "We're putting our war paint on this Friday."