This morning, I’m in Boston.
This is one of my favorite U.S. cities, perhaps because Boston is one of the birthplaces of American civil disobedience. Not far from here, in 1773, a group of colonists dumped ship-loads of English tea into Boston Harbor in resistance to the British government’s unfair taxes on the American colonies. A few hours from here, Henry David Thoreau penned his essay “Resistance to Civil Government,” where he argued that individuals should not permit governments to overrule or atrophy their consciences, and that they have a duty to avoid allowing such acquiescence to enable the government to make them the agents of injustice.
Over the past two centuries, Boston has seen its fair share of people acting out of a sense of their own conscience, from labor to civil rights to wars abroad.
Today, 36 more people honored that fine tradition by staging a sit-in on the front door of the Tip O’Neill federal building in downtown Boston in opposition to Keystone XL. They sent a strong message to President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry: Reject the pipeline!
Secretary Kerry, who is a long-time environmental advocate, plays a key role in whether the Keystone XL pipeline will be approved or rejected, as the State Department is tasked with determining whether the Keystone XL pipeline is in the nation’s best interest. President Obama is expected to make an announcement about the fate of the pipeline within the next few months.
The federal authorities didn’t waste any time trying to intimidate us with federal charges and a $5,000 fine.To their credit, NOT ONE SINGLE PERSON BACKED OFF FROM TAKING ACTION. That’s how important this issue is for people who have signed the KXL Pledge of Resistance. That’s how important this issue is for future generations. We’re in a struggle to stem the worst effects of climate change and save communities in Alberta, impacted by tar sands extraction, and communities up and down the pipeline route in Canada and the U.S.
Their intimidation tactics failed, so the federal authorities turned to the “then they ignore you” strategy, trying to wait out our sit-in. We don’t have time to wait, these actions are too vital.
Our movement is bold and effective. That’s why they intimidate, ignore us and fight us. Despite that, we’ll keep building this movement while acting on our consciences and continuing these time-honored Boston traditions of civil disobedience whether it’s in Alberta, Texas, Oklahoma or anywhere KXL decision-makers show up.