An Invitation to Join the Tar Sands Action in DC, Nov. 6th

News — the tar sands action team September 26, 2011 at 2:10 pm

This call to action was issued by a diverse group of movement leaders to bring together a massive rally on November 6th in Washington DC. To join the rally, sign up here:

Dear friends—

Once again, we’re sending you another long letter to ask for your help.

It’s been several weeks since the last people got out of jail in Washington DC, at the end of two weeks of civil disobedience that led to 1253 brave people ending up in handcuffs to stop the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. It was the largest such action in decades, and because of their leadership lots has begun to happen.

#The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu along with seven other Nobel Peace Prize winners wrote a letter to the president asking that he block the pipeline. They acknowledged the actions of those of us in DC, saying: “These brave individuals have spoken movingly about experiencing the power of nonviolence in that time. They represent millions of people whose lives and livelihoods will be affected by construction and operation of the pipeline.”

#At President Obama’s first public speech since the sit-ins ended, a hardy bunch of University of Richmond students unfurled a huge banner demanding that the president veto the pipeline – followed by similar actions in Columbus, Ohio, Raleigh North Carolina, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Wilmington, Delaware and many many others.

#Meeting on the Rosebud Sioux reservation last week, Native tribal leaders from both sides of the border and private land owners from South Dakota and Nebraska signed a ‘Mother Earth Accord’ opposing Keystone XL and the tar sands. These are the people who started this fight; and they’re being joined by everyone right down to Nebraska Cornhusker football fans who booed lustily when a Keystone ad showed up on the Jumbotron at a recent game. The next day the university ended their sponsorship deal with Trans-Canada Pipeline

# Even as we issue this letter, Canadian activists by the hundreds are risking arrest on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, and brave protesters are trying to block shipments of heavy equipment to Alberta from Idaho and Montana–these are remarkable signs of continent-wide protest.

#And on the not-so-good-side: huge wildfires driven by the worst drought in Texas history have destroyed towns and killed good people; the biggest rainfalls ever recorded have done similar damage in New Jersey, New York, and Vermont.

So—there’s real momentum for action, and real need. We have less than 90 days to convince the President not to approve the pipeline. So here’s the thing: we need your help again. We need you to keep using your creativity and bodies as a part of this struggle—to fight this fight even though there’s no guarantee of victory.

Here’s the plan, in three stages

1) Most important of all: On Sunday November 6 we will return to Washington. Exactly one year before the election, we want to encircle the whole White House in an act of solemn protest. We need to remind President Obama of the power of the movement that he rode to the White House in 2008. This issue is much bigger than any individual person, President or not, and that we will carry on, with or without him.

We’re not certain this is the right plan.  We don’t know if there are the thousands of people that it will take to encircle the White House—we’ve never tried something this ambitious before. And we worry that it’s too earnest and idealistic—that maybe we should be going back to jail. But unlike last time, this time we’re working from a position of strength, and we can firmly but peacefully remind the president that we were the real power behind his campaign. We’re not expecting any arrests at this action, but we are expecting to send an unmistakable, unavoidable message.

2) But we have to start building momentum now with action in our communities. Between now and October 7, the State Department is holding a series of hearings on its flimsy report on Keystone XL. Our colleagues in the environmental movement are doing a good job of organizing for those meetings, including the final one in DC—and we’ll be supporting a rally at the final hearing.

But starting on October 8, we’ll begin a rolling series of actions at key Obama campaign offices around the country. We want these to be a bit bigger and more serious than what’s come before, so we’ll be doing training and providing materials to folks in those communities. We need to make sure that the message gets through to headquarters that people remember the promises from the 2008 campaign and want them kept.

3) We need to keep showing up at the president’s public appearances – just like what’s already been happening on campus after campus, town after town. (We especially like the chant that goes: “Yes We Can…Stop the Pipeline.”). Our organizing team is tracking the president’s every appearance to look for opportunities to act.  If the President is coming to your neighborhood, we need you to get his attention. (We’ll help you do that).

We’ve already shown we have the courage and the fortitude for civil disobedience.Now we need to mix it up and show a different side of the campaign. Many of us were sincerely moved by Barack Obama’s campaign for president.  We’re not yet ready to concede that his promises were simply the empty talk of politicians. We’re not going to be cynics until we absolutely have no choice.

It will be a beautiful and brave sight, the White House enclosed by the kind of people that put President Obama there. Since he’s said he’ll make up his mind by the end of the year, now’s the time. We know it’s hard to get to Washington, but if you can: this is the moment.

Thank you. A lot.

Tim DeChristopher, inmate, Federal Correctional Institution, Herlong California
Tom Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network
Courtney Hight and Maura Cowley, Energy Action Coalition
Jane Kleeb, Bold Nebraska
Bill McKibben,
Gus Speth, former chair, president’s Council on Environmental Quality
Becky Tarbotton, Rainforest Action Network
Lennox Yearwood, Hip Hop Caucus

  1. Calvin Leman says:

    Why does Obama not call off the pipeline? How do we ask him to respond?

    • Jeanne Turner says:

      Calvin: Call the White House switchboard at 202-456-1111 and voice your opinion about this pipeline. I’m told it is sometimes difficult to get through but we have to keep trying. The website to write is Even a victory with this is not yet the end. IF XL fails to pass, Canada may try to reroute the pipeline to its west coast threatening the only habitat of the white bear — also known as the spirit bear. There is much environmental degradation involved with these tar sands. See article in August 2009 issue of National Geographic. Spread this through FB and other links to everyone you know. We don’t have a lot of time. Insist Obama keep to his original environmental campaign promises. I am telling him I will not vote for him if he approves this bill. Come to Washington on November 6th (before election day). Do not vote for anyone who supports this.

  2. Kasey says:

    Wow, I really hope the November 6 action happens! What a way to send a message to the President, and the rest of our politicians for that matter. I wish I could be there to stand with you, but know you have support in Illinois! Thanks for all your hard work!!

  3. Shainna says:

    How can I become involved with protests in Southern California and spread the word on my college campus?

  4. Pam Jones says:

    I’m trying to organize one or two charter buses from Nashville. I need to know what time this will happen on Nov. 6.
    Also, if people are coming from as far away as Nashville, is there anyone in the DC area willing to help house students or hopefully folks my age (50s) who need a place to unroll their sleeping bag Saturday night?

    • Steinbruck Center at Luther Pl says:

      Hi Pam, my name is Bianca and I’m the program coordinator at The Steinbruck Center for Urban Studies — Shalom House. We are part of Luther Place Memorial Church located at 14th and N st NW in Washington DC, about a mile from the White House.

      We have a 23 bed hostel and have some over flow space where we can lay out beds/sleeping pads/sleeping bags. I’d love to be in conversation with you to see if we can host the group. My e-mail is

    • Atlgrl78 says:

      Trying to come up from Atlanta – what time on Sunday? How long is the protest expected to last?

  5. claire says:

    there is a petition FOR the pipeline on the white house website.!/petition/create-american-jobs-approving-keystone-xl-pipeline/Qccr7xpb

    might want to put a petition up against the pipeline….

  6. Cory E says:

    I’ll be working to get a group from Westchester County, New York to help on Nov. 6. Can you put more details here so we can plan? We should meet at what time on Nov. 6 and at any place in particular? Do we just find a spot outside the White House? I guess we should make and bring our own signs, and we should bring out own food/water. Anything else? Will you have buttons or something we can wear?

    Thanks for your great work on this! I’ll let you know how many we have as soon as I know. Oh, and anyone else who could house a group in their community center or house of worship would be greatly appreciated!

  7. Dave Baldwin says:

    I’m reminded of the attempt to levitate the Pentagon!

    Do you have an estimate of how many people you will need? Do you have inexpensive lodging options available? Do you know if, in trying to encircle the building, you will be risking arrest?

    I’m considering coming up for the weekend, and possibly bringing my 12 year old son. The more information available, the easier the decision will be.

  8. Harold Hensel says:

    Canada needs to take a tip from Fagin from Oliver.

    I’m reviewing the situation.
    …I think I’d better think it out again!

    Climate change will cost Canada Billions. Compare this to the benefits of the Tar Sands.

    Harold Hensel

  9. Alr-09 says:

    This sounds like a great idea except for the fact that arrest will probably happen. Encircling the white house can be seen as an act goodwill, the need for change. But the military will most likley see this as a threat to the presidents safety in that the White house will be seen as inaccesiable by protective agencies. This in turn will both attract national media but it will send a negative message about the cause. The descion rests on what the cause is truly trying to say and what the media thinks it heard.

  10. Rachel Benedict says:

    My name is Rachel Benedict, I’m the Sales Manager at the Comfort Inn Tysons Corner. We have a big group of people coming into town just for this and would love to offer rooms at a discounted rate to anyone else interested in staying overnight. We have complimentary breakfast, free on site parking, and a shuttle that can drop you off and pick you up at the metro to get downtown! Feel free to contact me at 703.448.8020 ext 1507 or

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