Utah Federal Building Entrance Shut Down to Honor Climate Related Deaths


#NoKXL #NoTarSands #ClimateDeaths

This morning in Salt Lake City a small direct action team of citizens from various organizations deployed at rush hour and closed an entrance to the Federal Building. Two were arrested during the hour long closure and over 30 cars were turned away.  This quick action came after Thursday’s 100 person rally titled Funeral for Our Future.  These types of incidents mark an escalating moment seen across the country using higher level confrontations with campaign targets to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline.  Many of these confrontations are happening outside institutional norms and sometimes include people risking arrest.  Many bloggers have compared this moment in the Climate Justice Movement to Seneca Falls, Selma or Stonewall in previous social movements.  Just like Rosa Parks was not simply a tired woman going home for the day, these activists have been working and training together with Peaceful Uprising’s Climate Justice Bold School.

The targets today were Senators Orrin Hatch and Senator Mike Lee along with 62 Senators nationwide who voted on March 22 to push forward the construction of the Keystone XL PipelineWhile the decision ultimate resides in Obama’s hands, all six US congressmen from Utah have been vocal about their support for constructing the pipeline.  Most of them cite job creation as the main reason.  The numbers of jobs brought through this project are uncertain and the studies published by TransCanada the company responsible for the pipeline are misleading.  One independent study from the Cornell Global Labor institute showed that it would create no more than 2,500 – 4,650 temporary construction jobs

Senators Hatch and Lee were asked to give up their jobs.  As the action team lay down in front of cars entering the building, others held a sign that read “Closed to Honor Climate Related Deaths – #NoKXL #NoTarsands”. Over 30 cars were blocked from entering during the morning commute, some of which could have been staff for the Hatch and Lee or the Senators themselves.  Asked if he thought if the action made a difference, former high school science teacher, Ryan Pleune, said [quote style=”1″]“Only history will show us if what we did today shaped future decision making and policy. What I do know is that in many other social movements people had to come together and take risks for a common goal. In that sense we have been very successful here today. All across the country communities are joining to work outside of institutionalized norms to create change.”[/quote] [pullquote align=”left”]Ashley Sanders, laying on the ground for nearly two hour says: “it’s a small price to pay, compared to what many people are paying around the world.”[[/pullquote]This action brought attention to 5 million climate related deaths per year and identifies the US Senate vote in favor of the KXL pipeline as a factor that would only increase those deaths.  Climate change is projected to kill 100 Million people by 2030 and disproportionately affects countries in the Global South. Activists demanded that Senators, Congressmen and their staff take the day off to reconsider the implications of their vote.


April 5th 2013. Die-In Shuts Down Entrance to Federal Building in Salt Lake City.

Ashley Sanders co-founder of the Salt Lake Chapter of Move to Amend says she was here today “because our democracy is dead.  Corporations are ruling our country and the way TransCanada is controlling the decisions on whether we build the KXL pipeline is one example of corporate rule that I am fighting against.  I will fight back with my soul and my organization is organizing in communities with ballot initiatives to end corporate personhood and create a democracy that is good for all people.”

Climate justice activists around the country are protesting with non-violent direct action after years of institutionalized ways of settling disagreements have been unsuccessful and almost always favor industry.  The Tar Sands Blockade from Texas asked community leaders around the country to target tar-sands profiteers during a week of action in mid-March over 50 collective actions occurred around the country to disrupt and intervene in March.  In Salt Lake City the Chevron refinery was targeted and a soft blockade at their gate turned away 6 refinery trucks over two hours.  No one was arrested.

Their message with this creative direct action is that climate change is not a future problem; it’s a present day global justice war. This war is only beginning to raise alarm in more developed countries due to storms like Hurricane Sandy and increased wildfires in the West.

[pullquote align=”left”]”Why am I here today? Because our federal legislators are not protecting our future, they are not protecting us, they are not protecting our children. They are selling our lives to the highest bidder, to the corporations for short-term gain and profits. Tomorrow is my 60th birthday, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to be as silent as I was for the first 60 years, in the next number of years that I have left.” -Joan Gregory[/pullquote]

This is your invitation, as this is only the beginning of many creative direct actions to hold the powers-that-be accountable to global injustice, environmental degradation, and corporate clemency. 


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Find more photos of the action by clicking HERE.

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