5:00 AM Sunday morning, more than 20 Wesleyan students boarded a bus to Washington, D.C. to join 12,000 climate activists in protesting the Keystone XL Pipeline. Obama will soon have to make the decision whether or not to sign off on the pipeline, which will bring crude oil from the tar sands of Alberta across the U.S. to the Gulf Coast where it will be refined and then exported to Europe and Latin America. We went to show him that there is political might against the pipeline and he needs to just say no.
Follow the jump to read a full report of the protest and see pics!!!
We got into D.C. around noon and checked out Occupy D.C., which was a couple blocks away, where it people were preparing to join the Tar Sands Action protest. Back at Lafayette Plaza, volunteers handed out bright orange emergency vests that said “Stop the Pipeline #NOKXL” on the back to represent the emergencies that are sure to happen if the pipeline is built. The protest started at 2:00 PM with a rally where we heard from a variety of incredible speakers, including 350.org founder Bill McKibben, activist Naomi Klein, climate scientist James Hansen, farmers, leaders of indigenous groups that will be affected, labor union leaders, and more. It was interesting how many connections were made between this movement and the #Occupy movements: the link between greed and environmental destruction was brought up multiple times and we even used #Occupy general assembly tactics such as jazz hands to show support and the people’s mic at one point (though there was a working sound system).
The mass of people was then broken up into groups to surround the White House, linking hands to show Obama that there is political will (and lots of it!) to keep this pipeline from being built. There were people from all over the country and of all different ages together, holding hands, chanting chants (“Hey, Obama, we don’t want no climate drama!”) and singing This Land is Your Land and the U.S. national anthem. A huge replica pipeline made a few rounds around the White House. Afterwards, a large group took to the streets and marched with the replica pipeline.
All in all, it was an incredible event. We boarded the bus at 5:45 PM and returned to Wesleyan by 1:00 AM Sunday night. What a wonderful and crazy twenty hours!!
Photos courtesy of the beautiful Becca Wilton ’15:[nggallery id=95]