The Tar Sands Action started yesterday at 11 AM when 65 people took part in the sit-in on the sidewalk in front of the White House fence to pressure President Obama to deny the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. By the end, activists were in custody and will be in jail, in some cases, until Monday. This came as a surprise to the organizers. The Park Police were especially concerned that sit-ins would continue during the week of events beginning on August 28 surrounding the dedication of a new memorial to civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., one of the greatest exponents of creative nonviolence.
In multiple phone calls and in person meetings before today’s sit-in, the Park Police had previously assured organizers that participants in the protest would be facing a “post and forfeit” situation, meaning they would pay a $100 fine and be released the same day. While participants in this morning’s sit-in were trained the evening before to prepare for the worst, many were operating on the “post and forfeit” assumption due to police assurances.
Sunday’s event will feature over 60 concerned citizens, including landowners and a group of doctors.
“Nebraskans are counting on President Obama to do the right thing,” said Jane Kleeb, Director of Bold Nebraska, who will be risking arrest on Monday. “Back home we are fighting to protect our land and water. We decided to bring that fight to the President’s doorstep because our families’ legacies, those that homesteaded the very land now threatened by a foreign oil company, are too important for us sit on the sidelines. We are acting on our values and expect our President to act as well.”