Police Pepper Spray, Arrest Protestors In Keystone XL Demonstration
After thousands descended on the White House on Sunday morning for a third time, pressuring President Obama to reject the permit for the northern section of the Keystone XL pipeline and stay true to his recent remarks regarding climate change, blockaders reinforced that message with a resounding direct action in Nacogdoches, Texas.
More than 40 people stormed a Keystone XL construction site in Nacogdoches early Monday morning with four blockaders locking themselves to heavy construction equipment. Several more formed a human chain to block the movement of other machinery in the area and protect the four who are currently locked to equipment.
After spending the morning in a face-off with police, all four blockaders were pepper sprayed, extracted, and arrested.
Three others have launched another tree-sit blockade at a crossing on the Angelina River. They have suspended themselves from pine trees more than 50-feet tall, anchoring their support lines to construction machinery in the path of the pipeline.
Stephen F. Austin State University student Lizzy Alvarado is among the Angelina tree sitters. Alvarado is a third-year cinematography major from Austin, Texas.
“I climbed this tree in honor of all the landowners who have been bullied mercilessly into signing easement contracts and who were then silenced through fear by TransCanada’s threat of endless litigation. That’s not what this country stands for in my mind, and if we don’t take a stand here to secure our rights now, then it will keep happening to everyone,” Alvarado told the Tar Sands Blockade. “What’s happening isn’t just threatening my community’s drinking water but it will threaten that of all communities along the pipeline’s path.”
The action comes in addition to an ongoing tree-sit in the path of the pipeline launched by the Blockade in September of this year.
“I think this action is really the culmination of really a lot of the work that Tar Sands Blockade has been doing, coming out of the Summer of Solidarity work all across the country, to really connect the climate crisis we’re now facing to the exploitation of extreme energy like tar sands,” says Blockade organizer Kim Huynh.
Huynh helped facilitate training in strategic direct action techniques for the mass action at the White House on Nov. 18.
“What we do right now in Texas, with the Tar Sands Blockade," he said, "is setting up a precedent for how this fight will be fought all along the pipeline’s route.”
The action at the White House followed 350.org’s “Do The Math” tour stop in Washington, DC, one of 21 lectures 350.org founder Bill McKibben is doing across the country, hoping to increase momentum with President Obama's recent public interest in climate change.
More than 40 solidarity actions have culminated around the world after the Tar Sands Blockade put out a mass call for a climate week of action after the devastation caused by superstorm Sandy. The storm has forced the conversation on the effects of global climate change as many climate scientists have linked the storm to ongoing Arctic ice melt. The ice hit its lowest level on record in the Arctic this September, with the accompanying sea level rise providing additional fodder to fuel superstorms like Sandy with storm surges riding in about a foot higher than average.
Candice Bernd is a reporter with Campus Progress. Follow her on Twitter @CandiceBernd.