Sixty People Risk Arrest in Washington D.C. To Tell Barack Obama and John Kerry “NOKXL!”

By scott parkin
kxl march
KXL Pledge March in Washington D.C.

My favorite part of the Keystone XL Pledge of Resistance is the trainings.

Before each action, we take a portion of the day before to prepare pledge signers for possible physical and legal repercussions from placing themselves into an act of peaceful and dignified civil disobedience. In those trainings we create a space where the participants get to know one another as well as the organizers. The people taking part in the Pledge aren’t from typical environmentalist circles that I often find myself in, they are more like, well, my mom. Mostly an older crowd, many of them volunteered or worked for Obama’s campaigns in 2008 and 2012. Many of them are concerned about the direction of the country and the environment. Now they are finding themselves deeply disappointed in the direction the President’s environmental and climate policies have taken.

This morning, over 60 of those folks risked arrest at the State Department’s headquarters to send a clear message to Barack Obama and John Kerry to stop the Keystone XL pipeline, which would flow hundreds of thousands of barrels of dirty tar sands oil from Alberta to the Gulf Coast, endangering ecosystems, communities and the climate. In yesterday’s training, we discovered that we had people with us from as far away as Florida, New Jersey and upstate New York.

After our June action in Chicago, New Jersey resident and Super Storm Sandy survivor Claire Pula decided to get involved with the KXL Pledge and travel to D.C. for today’s action. This morning, while sitting-in at the State Dept., Pula told The Hill: “I was of course anxious about the whole idea of risking arrest. But as soon as I knew that things had already been happening, I wanted to find one close enough to home that I could get to and be able to do that risk myself. And it’s nerve wracking, but it’s important”

We were also joined by at least three veterans of the Vietnam War. During the training, one of them told me he’d joined Vietnam Vets Against The War once he got home. In 1971, he and John Kerry, along with many other veterans opposing the war in Vietnam, returned their medals and ribbons at the steps of Congress during a protest. He said he felt a certain fellowship with Kerry over that event and was calling on Kerry directly to come out in opposition of the Keystone XL pipeline. Kerry, as Secretary of State, holds a great deal of decision-making power over the pipeline.

Another arrest-risker, Rabbi Arthur Waskow, director of the Shalom Center in Philadelphia, told the Huffington Post: “I have five grandchildren… I would love them to grow up in a world that’s as healthy, as beautiful, as decent, as abundant as the one I grew up in.”

The Keystone XL issue has brought together people from all over the country from many different walks of life. The container we’re creating with the Keystone XL Pledge of Resistance is not only putting pressure on the Obama administration, but bringing new groups of people into the climate fray.

To join the KXL Pledge of Resistance, sign up here.

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