Saturday, August 20, 2011

Tar Sands Protest Day 1: Arrests begin at White House




White House protesters being held until Monday, at least 50 more prepare for Sunday morning sit in

Photos courtesy Sharon Lungo/Making Change Street Newspaper, published with permission. Thank you!
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Watch video of arrests: Women first at the White House:

News — Jamie @ 7:25 pm
U.S. Park Police are holding over 50 people in jail tonight through Sunday night for participating in a peaceful sit-in that took place at the White House this morning.
At 11:00 AM, 65 people took part in the sit-in on the sidewalk in front of the White House fence to pressure President Obama to deny the permit for a massive new oil pipeline.
Over 2,000 people from all 50 states and Canada have registered at Tarsandsaction.org to take part in similar sit-ins of 50-100 people everyday for the next two weeks until September 3.
The people arrested this morning were taken to District 5 Station of the U.S. Park Police in Anacostia for booking. The determination was made that participants would be held until Monday, with the exception of 9-15 DC area residents who will be released this evening. Participants were then transferred to Central Cell Block in Metropolitan Police Headquarters until they appear in court on Monday.
Attorneys will have the opportunity to visit with some of the locked-up participants over the weekend. The attorneys expect that the defendants will be brought into court on Monday afternoon and will be charged and released at that time. As of now, participants have been charged with failure to obey a lawful order, although it is possible that additional charges will be added. Attorneys expect that all will be released by Monday evening.
On a phone call late this afternoon, U.S. Park Police told organizers of the sit-in that the jail time was expressly intended as a deterrent for future participants.
The Park Police were especially concerned that sit-ins would continue during the week of events beginning on August 28 surrounding the dedication of a new memorial to civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., one of the greatest exponents of creative nonviolence.
In multiple phone calls and in person meetings before today’s sit-in, the Park Police had previously assured organizers that participants in the protest would be facing a “post and forfeit” situation, meaning they would pay a $100 fine and be released the same day. While participants in this morning’s sit-in were trained the evening before to prepare for the worst, many were operating on the “post and forfeit” assumption due to police assurances.
Not deterred
While the escalated response from the police came as a surprise for organizers behind the protest, they assured the police that the night in jail was not a deterrent for future participants. At a church in Columbia Heights this evening, over 50 more participants from across the country prepared to take part in Sunday morning’s sit-in.
Over the next two weeks, 2,000 more people will follow the example of the 65 people arrested today in order to prevent an environmental disaster that threatens their air, water, and climate.
As the dedication of the MLK Jr. memorial approaches, the sit-in outside the White House is a reminder that the great American tradition of civil disobedience is not just history. The participants are coming not with deep pockets or a partisan agenda, but with the simple idea that their voices should be heard.
They will not be intimidated or deterred.
Legal Information
Attorneys working with Tarsandsaction.org believe that future participants in the sit-in are likely to face up to one night in jail. The initial charge of Failure to Obey a Lawful Order brings a possible fine of $100 or more. The possible additional charge of Incommoding (Blocking Passage) brings possible fines of up to $500 and/or 90 days of jail. Defendants would likely receive probation and a fine rather than jail time for the charges.
A full legal briefing will be provided for participants every evening during a training before the following day’s sit-in.

By Tar Sands Action
Posted by Jamie @ 1:43 pm
WASHINGTON -- Seventy people from across the US and Canada were arrested at the White House this morning for the first day of a two week sit-in aimed at pressuring President Obama to deny the permit for a massive new oil pipeline. Over 2,000 more people are expected to join the daily civil disobedience over the coming days.
At stake is what has quickly become the largest environmental test for President Obama before the 2012 election. The President must choose whether or not to grant a Canadian company a permit to build a 1,700 mile pipeline from the Alberta tar sands to refineries on the gulf of mexico.
Environmentalists warn that the pipeline could cause a BP disaster right in America’s heartland, over the largest source of fresh drinking water in the country. The world’s top climatologist, Dr. James Hansen, has warned that if the Canadian tar sands are fully developed it could be “game over” for the climate.
“It’s not the easiest thing on earth for law-abiding folk to come risk arrest. But this pipeline has emerged as the single clear test of the president’s willingness to fight for the environment,” said environmentalist and author Bill McKibben, who is spearheading the protests and was arrested this morning. “So I wore my Obama ’08 button, and I carry a great deal of hope in my heart that we will see that old Obama emerge. It’s hot out here today, especially when you’re wearing a suit and tie. But it’s nowhere near as hot as it’s going to get if we lose this fight.”
McKibben was amongst those arrested today, along with the co-founder of NRDC and former White House official Gus Speth, gay rights activist Lt. Dan Choi, author and activist Mike Tidwell, Firedoglake founder Jane Hamsher, and many others.
Environmentalists say that the President’s failure to take any substantive steps to protect the environment and stop the climate crisis has left his base disheartened and desperate. While the President can blame Congress for the Democrats’ failure to pass a climate bill despite unprecedented majorities, the decision whether or not to grant the Keystone XL the permit necessary for construction is his and only his.
The protest began with a small rally in Lafeyette Park, where participants listened to McKibben address the crowd and prepared themselves for what will likely be an afternoon in jail. At about 11:00 am, the group formed two lines and marched to the White House fence to the applause of onlookers. A group of participants lined the fence, holding two large banners that read “Climate Change is Not in Our National Interest: Stop the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline” and “We Sit In Against the Keystone XL Pipeline. Obama Will You Stand Up to Big Oil?” The rest of the group sat-in on the sidewalk infront of the fence.
Within a few minutes, police began issuing warnings to clear the area. At 11:30 am, a young woman from Sarah Palin’s hometown of Wasilla, Alaska, was the first person to be arrested. Arrests proceeded for over an hour as van-loads of protestors were taken away from the White House.
Jane Kleeb, an outspoken opponent of the pipeline and founder of BOLD Nebraska, stood in Lafayette Park this morning and cheered on the protestors as they were arrested.
“Nebraskans are counting on President Obama to do the right thing,” said Keeb, who is planning to risk arrest on Monday with a delegation of farmers and ranchers who are coming in from Nebraska. “Back home we are fighting to protect our land and water. We decided to bring that fight to the President’s doorstep because our families’ legacies, those that homesteaded the very land now threatened by a foreign oil company, are too important for us sit on the sidelines. We are acting on our values and expect our President to act as well.”
The coalition organizing the protest, Tarsandsaction.org, is accepting donations and new sign-ups for the sit-in throughout the next two weeks. For more information, the public can visit http://www.tarsandsaction.org or follow the group on Twitter at @tarsandsaction.

Letter from Scientific Experts to President Obama Regarding Authorization of the Keystone XL Pipeline:
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20050
August 3, 2011
President Obama:
We are researchers at work on the science of climate change and allied fields. We are writing to add our voices to the indigenous leaders, religious leaders, and environmentalists calling on you to block the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada’s tar sands.
The tar sands are a huge pool of carbon, but one that does not make sense to exploit. It takes a lot of energy to extract and refine this resource into useable fuel, and the mining is environmentally destructive. Adding this on top of conventional fossil fuels will leave our children and grandchildren a climate system with consequences that are out of their control. It makes no sense to build a pipeline system that would practically guarantee extensive exploitation of this resource.
When other huge oil fields or coal mines were opened in the past, we knew much less about the damage that the carbon they contained would do to the Earth’s climate system and to its oceans. Now that we do know, it’s imperative that we move quickly to alternate forms of energy—and that we leave the tar sands in the ground. We hope those so inclined will join protests scheduled for August and described at tarsandsaction.org.
If the pipeline is to be built, you as president have to declare that it is “in the national interest.” As scientists, speaking for ourselves and not for any of our institutions, we can say categorically that it’s not only not in the national interest, it’s also not in the planet’s best interest.
Sincerely,
James Hansen
Research Scientist
The International Research Institute for Climate and Society
The Earth Institute, Columbia University
John Abraham
Associate Professor, School of Engineering
University of St. Thomas
Dean Abrahamson
Professor Emeritus, Energy & Environment Policy
University of Minnesota
David Archer
Professor, Geophysical Sciences Department
The University of Chicago
Jason Box
Associate Professor, Department of Geography
Atmospheric Sciences Program
Researcher at Byrd Polar Research Center
The Ohio State University
Ken Caldeira
Senior Scientist
Department of Global Ecology
Carnegie Institution
Peter Gleick
President and Co-founder
Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security
Richard A. Houghton
Senior Scientist
Woods Hole ResearchCenter
Robert W. Howarth
David R. Atkinson Professor of Ecology & Environmental Biology
Cornell University
Ralph Keeling
Director, Scripps CO2 Program
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Donald Kennedy
President Emeritus and Bing Professor of Environmental Sciences, Emeritus
Institute for International Studies
Stanford University
Michael MacCracken
Chief Scientist for Climate Change Programs
Climate Institute
Michael E. Mann
Professor of Meteorology
Director, Earth System Science Center
The Pennsylvania State University
James McCarthy
Alexander Agassiz Professor of Biological Oceanography
Harvard University
Michael Oppenheimer
Albert G. Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs
Woodrow Wilson School and Department of Geosciences
PrincetonUniversity
Raymond T. Pierrehumbert
Louis Block Professor in the Geophysical Sciences
The University of Chicago
Steve Running
Professor of Ecology, Director of Numerical Terradynamics Simulation Group
Department of Ecosystem and Conservation Sciences
College of Forestry and Conservation, University of Montana
Richard Somerville
Distinguished Professor Emeritus and Research Professor
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Ray J. Weymann
Director Emeritus, Carnegie Observatories
Member, National Academy of Sciences
George M. Woodwell
Founder, Director Emeritus, and Senior Scientist
Woods Hole Research Center
Earlier post:
Ehrlich on Schneider: Being a scientist doesn’t relieve one of the obligations of a citizen


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