You may be surprised to learn it was Naomi Klein's first arrest. Although she has given people's movements so much, from what I gather, Klein has has seen her role as a educator, researcher, commenter, writer - but not as a public demonstrator. This time, she was moved to put her body on the line.
“I wasn’t planning to get arrested,” Klein told the Star minutes after she was sprung.The 166 people arrested on Monday brought the total arrests to 1,253. From Tar Sands Action:
“It was a last-minute decision. I was sitting there with several indigenous leaders from Canada. And when it became clear they intended to stay where they were and expose themselves to arrest, well . . .” She did the same.
For Klein, it was a first-ever arrest. “I write. And I’m an activist. But I’m not a chanter, not a marcher. I’ve never been arrested before.
“But that’s what’s been happened for two weeks. Climate scientists, landowners, a wide range of people who all feel this same sense of urgency. The feeling is that we can’t just talk about the stakes on Twitter and leave it at that. If we mean what we say then we have to act like it.”
Klein is unsure yet whether the bust will come back haunt her in future cross-border travels. For now, her speedy release means she will be free to fulfill plans to address Saturday’s campaign-ending protest in Lafayette Park opposite the White House.
By now you know what you accomplished: 1,253 arrests, according to some journalists the biggest civil disobedience action since 1977, and the most sustained since the epic campaigns of the civil rights movement. That was enough to take a regional issue and make it a national and even global one (many thanks to our friends, who picketed American and Canadian embassies on every continent).While the tar sands campaign focuses on Obama, the US President demonstrates just how much he cares about the environment and the health of citizens, and where his priorities lie. From It's Getting Hot In Here:
In a sickening (literally) move, President Obama has told the Environmental Protection Agency to abandon their plans to protect kids from toxic air pollution, siding with big polluters like Exxon, Koch Industries, and their sock-puppet the US Chamber of Commerce over the health and safety of America’s youth.Many in the US are pledging to stop supporting Obama because of this disgusting (and completely predictable) about-face. But will they? Or will they - fearing a takeover that's already happened, confusing the present with the future - dutifully vote Democrat as they usually do? As if I don't know the answer to that question.
The EPA did their job, following scientific advice, hearing from impacted communities, environmental justice, and health organizations. EPA administrator Lisa Jackson worked to set new standards for communities, which would have helped protect kids and keep people working instead of out of work sick or in the ER taking care of their kids and likely spurred investments in scrubbers and pollution control equipment manufactured here in the United States.
Instead, the President sided with the US Chamber of Commerce, echoing the very language they used in their letter scrambling to find justifications for why these polluting corporations wanted to put off essential protections for the lives and health of kids and seniors exposed to toxic air pollutants. The Chamber of Commerce, reveling in the power they are exercising in a post-Citizens United world of unlimited corporate cash in US elections. . . .
This is after over a thousand people have been arrested in front of the White House, desperately trying to get President Obama to halt the Keystone XL pipeline that the nation’s top climate scientist said would be ‘game over’ for the climate, if built. A White House conspicuously without solar panels, that the Administration had promised to install by this spring. Another in a string of promises broken and priorities downgraded on the environmental front. As the protesters outside the White House have been singing, “Pick a side Obama”, and it appears that he has.
When my US friends ask me, "But what choice do we have?", I say, Exactly. You have no choice but to build a movement on the left, outside of the duopoly.
Continuing to cling to the belief that the Democrats are the lesser of two evils, rather than the same exact evil in slightly different packaging, has brought you to this place. Now, if you care about your country's future, you have no choice but to abandon the Democratic party and begin to build an alternative, and also to try to build a fair election system. It may not work. It may be too late. But it definitely will not work if you don't.
For reasons unknown to me, you thought Obama was different. You thought he was bigger and stronger than the system itself. I don't know why you thought this, but you did.
But now you know you were wrong. So wake up, put away your magical thinking, and try something else.
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You can see the day-by-day photos of the White House tar sands protesters and arrests on this Flickr page.
Naomi Klein on her arrest, September 5, 2011:
Actor Daryl Hannah, arrested at the White House on August 30, 2011:
Bill McKibben speaks to Keith Olbermann about the pipeline. Terrific stuff, well worth your time.
New York Times editorials McKibben refers to (newest to oldest):
Tar Sands and the Carbon Numbers
Wrong Pipeline, Wrong Assessment
No to a New Tar Sands Pipeline
And finally, to save for when you have time to read the whole thing, an excellent column by La Zerbisias on civil disobedience for climate change - the need, the precedent, who's doing what.