Tar Sands Action on the Ground & Moving Forward


Daryl Hannah being arrested

The Tar Sands Action has been a 2-week long action of sustained non-violent resistance, calling people to put their bodies on the line and demand that President Obama not approve the Keystone XL Pipeline.  We have seen many creative direct actions arise within the climate justice movement, but this unique action has shown an inspiring level of collaboration from a wide variety of organizations and individuals. With groups from Indigenous Environmental Network to Greenpeace represented and participants from MD State Senator Paul Pinsky to actress Daryl Hannah and NASA scientist James Hanson, the action indeed displays the power of broad coalition building. Hundreds of people, young and old alike, have traveled to DC to take part in what is shaping up to be one of the largest acts of civil disobedience in the environmental movement with 1,008 arrests so far and likely over 200 more today!

Tim DeChristopher had said at Powershift 2011, that:

[quote]”For all my disgust and disappointment with Barack Obama I don’t think he would bring in federal troops to defend mountain top removal site, I think he would end it before it got to that point.  And it’s our job as a movement to force him into that position.“[/quote]

When Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein, Dr. James Hanson and others called for action to be taken against the Keystone XL pipeline, the nation responded. Because it is time.  Because even despite the corporate media’s deliberate refusal to cover the action, we can feel that we are precariously being pushed over the point of no return.  Our greed and consumption is literally killing us.

Indigenous Environmental Network taking a stand

Indigenous leaders from Canada and the US joined the Tar Sands Action, and shared with us the horrific consequences of the Tar Sands from the decimation of the boreal forest to poisoned water and fish and animals that are no longer safe to eat. They bore witness to the disquieting truth that members of their communities are no longer dying from old age — they are all dying from pollution-induced sickness, from rare forms of cancer.  These consequences are not far away and unthinkable, they are in our backyards and our soil.  There are millions of people being poisoned in the US every day by the fossil fuel industry, and many of them are here in DC taking a stand with us.

A group of youth leaders wrote a poignant letter addressing the real challenges that we face, as they go much deeper than a pipeline.

[quote]“Big corporations are using their financial influence to corrupt our democracy and deepen their pockets at the expense of Americans. And it’s not just related to energy and the environment; they are threatening the very foundations of our democracy, working to disenfranchise voters, attack workers’ rights and the middle class…The Keystone XL decision is a significant test of President Obama’s commitment to our generation, but it’s not the only one.”[/quote]

The Keystone XL Pipeline is but one fight of many.  But we will continue to fight together: young and old, gay and straight, of all colors and from all nations, because–as Tim DeChristopher testified at his sentencing–this is what love looks like. In Tim’s most recent post, he called for this movement to embrace a position of stubbornness, acknowledging that we are well past the point of compromise. Indeed, we are fighting for our lives and the lives of generations to follow, and we must step up and demand our collective right to a healthy planet with an unrelenting commitment to inter-generational justice. Moving forward, this will require even greater acts of sustained resistance, including occupations without ending dates — actions where wave after wave of people come together and do not back down until their demands for justice are met.

For example, we are excited to be part of the October 2011 coalition to confront the corporatism and militarism which have taken our democracy from us. This action will be gathering to occupy Freedom Plaza in DC on October 6th — the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan and the beginning of the 2012 federal austerity budget. Here is part of the pledge from their website:

[quote]”I will commit to being in Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., with others on that day or the days immediately following, for as long as I can, with the intention of making it our Tahrir Square, Cairo, our Madison, Wisconsin, where we will NONVIOLENTLY resist the corporate machine by occupying Freedom Plaza to demand that America’s resources be invested in human needs and environmental protection instead of war and exploitation. We can do this together. We will be the beginning.”[/quote]

Peaceful Uprising is constantly on the watch for opportunities to take action and wants to help connect those committed to justice to work together. We’d love to keep you updated via our Regional Action List — sign up today if you haven’t yet. Also, make sure to check out the Uprising Calendar, where we will regularly add opportunities to take action or support those who are currently on-the-line.

[note color=”#CCDDEE”]

For more updates, please visit back! Peaceful Uprising is on the ground in DC and will be posting personal stories and thoughts on the Tar Sands Action.

Personal stories from the action will be listed below as they are written:

  • Kathy’s Story from the Tar Sands Action I had the opportunity to hear the stories of those who are actually living with the consequences of the pipeline: failing health, destroyed local economies, broken promises. While this pipeline would provide short-term jobs; how much better it would be to guarantee lifetime jobs by greening our homes, i.e., putting solar water heaters on every ...

[/note]