Saturday, March 23, 2013

Interfaith religous activists arrested in Climate civil disobedience outside the Whitehouse

Day 6 of the Tar Sands Blockade continues with 20 civil disobedience arrests in Washington DC according to the Tar Sands Blockade website. Outside the Whitehouse on Thursday March 21 a gathering of concerned citizens from various American religous traditions - Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Native North American - called on President Obama to take bold and courageous actions on climate change, including rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The call was underlined by a 'moral act of loving nonviolent civil disobedience' with 15 choosing to be arrested. View photos on Flickr by AnonMedia: 15 NoKXL Protesters Arrested at the White House .

The action was organized by the Interfaith Moral Action on Climate (IMAC) respresenting a wide variety of religious tradtions. They gathered in Lafayette Park at noon carrying three sacred symbols: palm fronds symbolic of greeting Jesus entry into Jerusalem; The Matzoh, unleavened bread that began as the food of the poor and afflicted but became the bread of life and freedom; and the Globe representing the planet we share, God's creation.

Interfaith Moral Action on Climate (IMAC) articulated the following actions should be taken by President Obama to heal communities and the earth:

  • 1. Permanently refuse permits for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, because tar-oil is among the most dangerous of the planet-heating forms of carbon.
  • 2. Call now a National Summit Conference on the Climate Crisis to meet with the urgency that the crisis demands -- including leaders of business, labor, academia, religious communities, governmental officialdom, science, and other relevant bodies.
  • 3. Publicly support and advocate for a carbon fee that will generate hundreds of billions of dollars, with provisions to ensure that working families and the poor are not harmed by higher carbon prices; for an end to subsidies to the coal, oil and gas industries; and for substantial subsidies for research, development, and use of renewable, sustainable and jobs-creating clean energy sources.

The call for action included Rev. Tom Carr, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church, Hartford, CT, Rev. Terry Ellen, Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice in the National Capital Region, Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, Director, Social Justice Organizing Program at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Collegem, Ibrahim Ramey, Muslim American Freedom Society, Rabbi Arthur Waskow, The Shalom Center, Philadelphia.

Rabbi Arthur Waskow was one of those 15 arrested. He describes in this OpEdNews article why he was arrested:

Yesterday, along with 14 other religious folk, clergy and committed "laity," I was arrested for standing at the White House with signs and songs, reciting the names of more than one hundred people who had been killed by one result of the climate crisis -- Superstorm Sandy. We were calling on the President to act swiftly to heal our Mother Earth from the climate crisis, from the plagues that modern Pharaohs -- Big Oil, Big Coal, Unnatural Gas -- have brought upon us.

Five arrested at Valero Energy Corporation

Elsewhere around Washington DC on March 21, five people were arrested engaging in civil disobedience at Valero Energy Corp's Lobbying Office in Washington, DC.

Rising Tide North America described the action:

Today in the nation's capital, five environmentalists participated in a peaceful act of civil disobedience against one of the corporations that stands to profit from the Keystone XL Pipeline. Jeannie Amado, Kelly Canaan, Ricky Lehner, Lacy MacAuley, and Bill Ragen were arrested by DC metro police after a 30 minute sit down peaceful protest in the lobby of 601 Pennsylvania Avenue, which is the DC corporate office of Valero Energy Corp. Valero owns oil refineries that are poised to receive at least 20% of the tar sands exported from Canada through the nation's heartland to Texas.

"We are putting our bodies on the line for the future of our children," said activist Lacy MacAuley as she was led from the scene in handcuffs. "We won't stand for corporations like Valero to profit from the destruction of the environment."

The action at Valero Energy Corp was the culmination of a "Tour of Shame" of institutions in the nation's capital that invest in the tar sands industry and are bankrolling the destruction of the Canadian wilderness and the dangerous, dirty Keystone Pipeline. The tour began at the Canadian Embassy, then moved to a branch office of TD Bank in the Penn Quarter and ended at Valero. Approximately 50 environmentalists joined the tour to spotlight how "TransCanada's Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is a toxic investment."

Today's action against Valero, TD Bank, and the Canadian Embassy was organized as a part of a week of action called by the Tar Sands Blockade. In a similar effort today, religious leaders held a protest in front of the White House to call on President Obama to reject the Keystone Pipeline. Earlier this week, three environmentalists chained themselves to the doors of a TD Bank branch in downtown DC.

You can read a report at DC Indymedia about both actions: Tar Sands protestors storm TD Bank, Valero, 5 arrests at Valero and 15 at the White House. Watch the ejection of protesters from the Valero Lobby on Youtube: NoKXL Protesters Mic Check Valero Lobby. Police respond with Assaults

See photo slideshow from Flickr user Anonmedia: NOKXL Protesters March to Valero, Mic check and gets assaulted