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First-anniversary protests of 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill

First-anniversary protests of 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill

Jan. 28, 1970: Members of the environmental group Get Oil Out (GOO) pass an offshore oil platform in their boat after dropping a permanent buoy in Santa Barbara Channel where an oil spill had occurred the year before.

This photo by staff photographer Frank Q. Brown was published on Page 1 of the Jan. 29, 1970, Los Angeles Times. Staff writer Noel Greenwood reported in an accompanying story:

SANTA BARBARA–Militant demonstrators demanded an end to oil drilling in the Santa Barbara Channel and sealed off the entrance to the municipal pier Wednesday night.

About 25 city police, reinforced by sheriff’s deputies and highway patrolmen, delayed about 500 demonstrators from moving onto the pier.

There were several brief scuffles but no arrests or injuries. Finally, an estimated 150 persons, mostly youths, were allowed to march onto the pier by the wharf operator, George Castagnola. Later they started what they said would be an all-night sit-in

The confrontation capped an otherwise peaceful observance of the first anniversary of the Santa Barbara Channel oil spill Wednesday.

Under the banner of Environmental Rights Day, thousands of Santa Barbarans had paused earlier in the day to mark the anniversary.

School children put aside their regular studies to spend the day talking about the environmental pollution and listening to conservationist plead their cause.

As day broke at Santa Barbara Harbor, a boatload of GOO (Get Oil Out) officials set out in choppy waters to anchor a buoy over the spot where the oil spill began Jan. 28, 1969, after a well blowout at Union Oil Co.’s Platform A. …

The sit-in at the Santa Barbara pier lasted 17 hours. Protesters, photo below, dispersed after being threatened with tear gas and arrest by police.

Jan. 29, 1970: Police move in behind mostly student protesters blocking the entrance to the Santa Barbara municipal pier on the first anniversary of the Santa Barbara oil spill. This photo was published in the Jan. 30, 1970, Los Angeles Times. Credit: Bruce Cox / Los Angeles Times.

scott.harrison@latimes.com

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