The DC police force must have recently put in a big order for plasti-cuffs. The commencement of the Keystone XL pipeline protest, which kicked off this past weekend, saw over 100 arrested in the first two days. But there won’t be time for a donut break yet, as the action is set to continue over the next two weeks with over 2,000 people signed up to get arrested in protest of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline that would carry the world’s filthiest oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast if approved by the Obama administration.
With people coming in from all around the nation, protesters hope to pressure President Obama to deny the permit needed to build the proposed 1700-mile pipeline from Alberta to the US Gulf Coast. Reports about the supposed safety of the pipeline have proven less than stellar, and TransCanada pipelines have already had 12 spills this year. The administration must make a decision about the pipeline by November 1st, and there is pressure coming from cheerleaders of pollution such as the Chamber of Commerce and Americans for Prosperity, to name a few, for the pipeline to go through.
“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 on Saturday.
On the first day, 70 people were arrested in total, but only a few of the DC residents within the group were released later that night. The others, including Bill McKibben and former White House official Gus Speth, were detained for the rest of the weekend. Organizers who had been in contact with the police were originally told to expect a “Post and Forfeit” charge, which would be the equivalent of a $100 fine and violation. However, DC Park Police have explicitly stated that they are keeping people overnight to “deter future participants”, a familiar retort that does not usually hold any weight with activists.
Even with police warnings, 50-100 people are expected to get arrested and earn their activist merit badges each day of the protest, which continues until the 3rd of September, including during the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial dedication on the 28th. The last day of the protest will culminate in a rally at the White House.
Bill McKibben sent a welcome message from the clink, “We don’t need sympathy, we need company.”
Watch a video about the first day of the action from tarsandsaction.org:
Photo by Steve Liptay