Since Everglades Earth First! kicked off the Briger forest canopy occupation on February 14, resistance to the expansion of Scripps Biotech campus on 683 acres of pine flatwoods ecosystem has been growing across the state of Florida. The site includes wetlands and is home to rare and endangered species, including gopher tortoises, indigo snakes and hand ferns, along with dozens of migrating and wading birds. The Palm Beach Gardens expansion includes an animal testing lab for corporate-driven science, including genetic engineering, nanotechnology and bio-warfare. It is being subsidized by $579 million tax dollars.
The tree-sit lasted for six weeks on a highly visible location along two major roads visible to thousands passing by daily. After the Palm Beach Gardens Police arrested two of the treesitters and cut the trees they were in, Everglades Earth First! responded on April Fools Day with a retaliation tree sit in front of City Hall. Police arrested one tree-sitter, but not before the public scrutinized the Mayor’s order to cut trees in an area designated as a protected preserve under the “mitigation” required in the development permit.
Since the direct action campaign kicked off following this year’s Earth First! Winter Rendezvous and Organizers Conference, dozens of activists have been trained in the skills of backwoods forest defense (which are new to this part of the world). We have gained much support of the public through our high profile actions, and the project that was expected to begin construction this year has yet to break ground. Now that this project is on people’s radar, new legal challenges against their permits are also surfacing.
At this point, we plan to continue building momentum through door-knocking in the surrounding neighborhoods and continuing to monitor the site for endangered species which could delay or cancel the project once and for all.
But if permits are issued to move forward with building the animal testing labs and surrounding biotech city with condos, strip malls, hotels, etc., they will meet resistance every step of the way. Keep your ears out, as we’ll be looking for help from our friends across the country to make sure this project never happens! For background, photos and videos, check out ScrapScripps.info or call us up at 561-249-2071