The Activists That #ShutItDown Are Heroes And They Deserve our Help

Yesterday five activists shut down every pipeline that transports tar sands into the United States, disrupting the flow of almost 2.8 million barrels of oil.

today I’m asking if you can help these brave heroes BY
donating to their legal fund.

Emily, Annette, Leonard, Ken and Michael 

Emily, Annette, Leonard, Ken and Michael 

This week we watched as Haiti was savaged by a storm that left over one thousand dead and over a million needing urgent humanitarian aid. We watched as the same storm hit the shores of the United States and two million were forced to evacuate their homes and dozens were killed. Coupled with this we have now seen sixteen months in a row that have been the warmest on record, 2016 is well on course to the be the warmest year ever recorded and the oceans are warming far faster than anyone had predicted.

Yet as all of this happens we watch a Presidential debate where climate change receives eighty-two seconds of attention, and we watch an entire Presidential election where even the Democratic candidate has a history of supporting fracking and avoids talking about climate change as much as possible.

This, in short, is why we need actions like yesterday.

In his Letter From A Birmingham Jail, Dr. Martin Luther King wrote that “we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface hidden tension this is already alive.”

Annette and Emily after shutting down Enbridge's line 4 and 67, which bring over a million barrels of tar sands into the US every day.

Annette and Emily after shutting down Enbridge's line 4 and 67, which bring over a million barrels of tar sands into the US every day.

And this is exactly what the activists who shut down the pipelines were doing: bringing to the surface the tension between the physics of our planet and government inaction on climate change; in particular, they were bringing to the surface the intractable tension between the physics of our planet and the continued extraction of tar sands, a fuel that is over twice as damaging to our climate as conventional crude and has been officially opposed by over fifty First Nations and indigenous tribes.

At a time when scientists are telling us that we can’t even burn all the fossil fuels we already own, yet corporations are spending hundreds of millions looking for even more reserves and politicians aren’t even talking about the problem, we have never been in such dire need of actions like yesterday.

This is something that the great Dr. King would have recognized. “Where the spotlight illuminated the evil,” he wrote, talking in hindsight about the campaigns in Birmingham and Selma, “a legislative remedy was soon obtained that applied everywhere.”

And that is exactly what the #ShutItDown activists were doing yesterday. They were shining a spotlight on these issues that we care so deeply about; they were shining a spotlight on the urgent need to stop extracting tar sands and on our government's failure to respond to the climate crisis -- and they were doing so because it is clear that without such a spotlight myopic politicians will continue to ignore the problem.

That they were successful in shining that spotlight is clear: the Canadian Energy Minister was forced to answer questions as a result of their action, the story put tar sands on the evening news around the country and the story has been shared tens of thousands of times on social media. 


It is for all of these reasons that I am asking you to please do what you can to support the brave activists who have put their own futures on the line in order to stand up for all of our futures.

You can do so by donating to their legal fund:


www.actionfund-climatedisobedience.nationbuilder.com/donate

In the months ahead the activists may face harsh reprisals. As I write not only the five activists, but two members of the support crew and three filmmakers are also in jail. All of the activists are facing felonies. Some look as if they may be charged with sabotage. They could be facing years in jail. And here, of course, it is important to remember that the great Dr. King was also once viewed as an enemy of the state, was hounded by the FBI, had his phone tapped and was placed on a list of America’s most dangerous criminals.

I do not know this, but I suspect that some of the #ShutItDown activists may chose not to accept a plea bargain, even if it is offered to them. They may choose instead to plead a necessity defense. That is to say they will go to court in order to argue that their actions were justified because of the greater crime, to both current and future generations, that is the continued burning tar sands; that they were forced to their actions because the law is failing to protect all of us from the threat of climate change.

Such a case has been won before in the United Kingdom. No such case has ever been won in the United States, even though the Delta 5 came close in an emotional trial a little over a year ago.

Michael Foster, turning off the TransCanada Keystone pipeline

Michael Foster, turning off the TransCanada Keystone pipeline


But whatever happens from here, whether they go to court or not, it is clear that the five activists who yesterday stopped all tar sands from entering the United States have taken a brave and important action -- and that is why I am asking you to support them.


You can do so by donating here:

www.actionfund-climatedisobedience.nationbuilder.com/donate

I’m going to start myself by donating $50 today.              


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