Yesterday, three hundred and ninety eight students from over 80 colleges across the United States were arrested outside the White House as they took part in “XL Dissent” – a major demonstration against the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.
The XL Dissent action has been described as “the largest act of youth civil disobedience at the White House in a generation”.
Many of the students were arrested for the first time and it shows the strength of feeling by many of America’s young for Obama to reject the pipeline.
And they came in their bus loads. In excess of one thousand students started their march at Georgetown University, where President Obama outlined a new climate plan last summer. Many of the students voted for Obama and now they want him to act.
The activists shouted ‘climate justice now’ and “Hey, Obama, we don’t want no pipeline drama,” and held signs saying “There is no planet B”; “We did not vote for climate change”; “Don’t tarnish the earth”; Keystone XL: pipeline to hell”; “Keep your oil out of my soil” and “Obama stop the pipeline or the people will”.
Outside Secretary of State John Kerry’s Washington home they created a small demonstration they called a “human oil spill” before forming a larger “human oil spill” outside the White House. Some protestors tied themselves to the White House fence. Some wore oil stained boiler suits, others “No KXL” Tshirts.
Part of the intention of the protest was to remind the White House that young people are a key voting demographic for the Democrats. “(This is) a youth-organized action to tell President Obama to reject the Keystone Pipeline,” said one of the organisers Nick Stracco, a 23-year-old student at Tulane University in New Orleans.
“Because the youth vote was a crucial part in both of his elections, we know that we elected him and we voted for a climate champion, not another pipeline president.”
“Our future is on the line. The climate is on the line,” added Aly Johnson-Kurts, 20, another organiser, who was arrested. “When do we say we’ve had enough?”
“They say we are too young to make a difference, but we are proving them wrong, right here, right now,” Earth Guardians Youth Director Xiuhtezcatl Martinez said to the cheering crowd.
Over 70,000 people have now signed the Keystone XL Pledge of Resistance card, if the pipeline is approved.
Later today a similar anti-KXL protest will be held in San Francisco.
If you want to add your voice, the State Department has just begun a public comment period on the “National Interest Determination” phase of KXL. You have less than 30 days to comment.