My story: Keystone XL Pipeline protest in San Francisco

On March 3rd, along with 100 youth from several Bay Area universities and high schools, I rallied in front of the State Department building in San Francisco to send a clear message to our President: No More Keystone Pipeline! In the process, 9 courageous souls got arrested for blocking the entrance of the State building.

Likewise, on Sunday, March 2nd, 398 youth got arrested in front of the White House, while more than 1,000 people cheered and supported these youth in their courageous act of civil disobedience.

Protesters seen sitting inside the State Department building, and through the window. Photo credit David Solnit

Protesters seen sitting inside the State Department building, and through the window. Photo credit David Solnit

These protests combined represent the largest act of civil disobedience entirely led by youth in our generation. An unstoppable wave of courage has begun to travel coast to coast. The energy and the determination were palpable. We will not stop fighting until the President will reject the Keystone XL Pipeline. And, if the Keystone XL Pipeline gets approved, we will be ready to put our bodies on the line (literally) to prevent the environmental catastrophe.

Despite what the most recent (oil-industry funded) environmental impact report says, independent studies show that the construction of the KXL will drastically increase CO2 emission in the atmosphere because it will expand extraction of the dirtiest oil from Tar Sands thereby exacerbating climate change.

Throughout my life I attended many protests, but this was the very first that deeply touched my heart and left me with an endless sense of hope. This protest was entirely organized by youth, unsponsored by any non-profit organizations. There were about 100 people there, the overwhelming majority being high school and college students. I will never forget the moment when a high school student cried out that our generation will say no to complacency and determined in front of the crowd that we will not sit quietly while communities continue to be poisoned by fossil fuel industries and put our future in danger.

When 9 people got arrested for trespassing, including 5 UCB students, Sophie Harrison, a second year undergraduate student at Stanford, spoke fiercely to the crowd: “I realized in that moment that I was seeing more bravery from those incredible young people than I have ever seen from most American political leaders in decades. Because when leadership and bravery are not coming from those in power, our movement creates them from the ground up.”

These recent events represent just the tip of the iceberg of what youth are capable of when united for a common cause.  “The youth are the ones who will be dealing with a radically altered climate if Keystone XL is approved,” said action organizer Shoshanna Howard. “We are, therefore, determined to prevent the approval by all means necessary.”

At the rally, we kept chanting “Hey Barack, you talk the talk now walk the walk”… we are the same youth who got President Obama elected on the assumption of being a climate champion. It is not too late for President Obama to side with our generation and be the climate champion he promised to be. It is not too late to say no to the Keystone XL Pipeline.

March 7th will be the last day to submit your public comment to oppose the Keystone XL Pipeline. Let your voice be heard, do not give up on a clean and just future.

Disclaimer: the views in this article represent that of the author’s only; the SERC Blog remains independent of the views and opinions of its writers. 

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