SAN FRANCISCO, CA – At 9:00 a.m. this morning, Bay Area students and grassroots activists staged a sit-in at Spear Tower, protesting the pending approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline–a pipeline that, if approved, would mean “game over for the planet,” according to leading NASA climatologist, James Hansen.
As of 10:00am, 9 young people and supporters were arrested for trespassing, and released from jail at 850 Bryant Street at around noon. Dozens of others were prepared to risk arrest, but were unable to enter the building, as it went on lockdown when supporters began to march toward it. Thus, the 9 arrestees staged a sit-in at the Mission Street doors of Spear Tower, while hundreds of protesters rallied just outside. The building remained on complete lockdown for about 2 hours.
In coordination with the 398 students who were arrested yesterday at the White House for XL Dissent, students, young people and supporters engaged in civil disobedience to make the message to Obama reverberate across the nation: he must reject the Keystone XL Pipeline, a project that would transport 850,000 barrels of tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, down to Texas ports for foreign export. To highlight the ethically-questionable pipeline review process conducted by the State Department and dues-paying American Petroleum Institute member, Environmental Resources Management, protesters planned to satirically “buy back their future,” dressing in business casual to “speak with the State Department in the only language” it “responds to: the language of money.” But “instead of making record profits by poisoning people and decimating the very ecosystems upon which we depend,” action organizers said, “we’ll cultivate a society based on collaboration, sustainability, and justice.”
Students and grassroots activists also conveyed that Obama needs to keep his climate promise to the generation that elected him. “We’ve heard so much climate rhetoric over the years,” said action organizer and UC Berkeley student, Haley Broder. “But actions speak louder than words; if Obama approves this pipeline, it demonstrates just how meaningless his pro-climate statements have been. But we intend to ensure he keeps his promise.”
“We’re escalating tactics to showcase our categorical opposition to the pending approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline,” stated action organizer Ashlyn Ruga. “If approved, the KXL would have far-reaching and pernicious impacts, not only on First Nations living at tar sands extraction sites, but also on the stability of our climate. Those are things we simply cannot allow.”
“The youth are the ones who will be dealing with a radically altered climate if Keystone XL is approved,” said action organizer Shoshanna Howard. “We are, therefore, determined to prevent the approval by all means necessary.”
The action participants’ message is clear: “We will not stay silent while communities on the front lines of tar sands operations are continually poisoned; we will not allow business as usual to intoxicate our water, contaminate our air, and threaten the very survival of our species. Our voices are loud and uncompromising in defense of our futures.”