Anyone who says that today’s youth are apathetic about politics simply needs to look at the nearly 1000 students who protested in Washington D.C. on Sunday against the continuing plans for building the Keystone XL Pipeline.
According to CNN, nearly 1,000 students marched from Georgetown to Secretary of State John Kerry’s home in D.C., where they then formed a “human oil spill” by placing black tarps on the ground and lying on them outside his house. They then continued to Lafayette Square, and approximately one third of the march proceeded to the White House, where they created another “oil spill,” while part of the group separated from the others and zip-tied their hands to the fence surrounding the White House grounds.
“(This is) a youth-organized action to tell President Obama to reject the Keystone Pipeline,” said Nick Stracco, a rally participant, to CNN. ”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.”
“The youth really understand the traditional methods of creating change are not sufficient … so we needed to escalate,” said Aly Johnson-Kurts, a protest organizer, to Politico. Johnson-Kurts was arrested later at the demonstration.
Back at Lafayette Square, protesters threw plastic lobsters, fish and birds covered in black paint, all to symbolize the wildlife that would be put in jeopardy if the pipeline should have an oil spill, and a protester dressed as Captain Planet even made an appearance at the event, according to Politico.
Opponents of the XL pipeline plan, which would expand the current Keystone pipeline in order to transport 830,000 barrels of oil per day, have held out hope that environmental analysis of the impact of adding the additional oil to our current climate crisis would cool the administration’s apparent interest in the project. However, the predominate view that Big Oil has had a hand in the State Department’s findings have left activists looking for more extreme ways to show their opposition to the expansion.
Over 450 students were arrested outside the White House, with nearly 200 activists tied to the fence in protest. The rest formed a “spill” on the ground outside the White House fence.
The large, youth powered demonstration is just the first of a number of events to come this week, according to 350.org, pointing to a Monday demonstration in San Francisco and an expected demonstration in Boston at a fundraiser in the city being hosted by President Obama. “The 398 students arrested at the White House were just the beginning,” said Ophir Bruck, a student at the University of California, Berkeley, via 350.org. ”We’re prepared to do whatever it takes to stop this pipeline and we know that tens of thousands more people are right behind us.” Bruck was one of the nine students arrested in the San Francisco activity on Monday.
As Care2′s Beth Buczynski reported in early February, a 30 day public comment period for the pipeline expansion is a last chance to persuade the White House to reconsider the Keystone XL Pipeline. “The Departments of Energy, Defense, Transportation, Homeland Security, Justice, Interior, and Commerce, as well as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), all will have a say, but the final decision rests with the White House.”
Photo credit: Andrew Blake, photo journalist
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