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Amid DC #WeatherWhiplash, 400 arrested @Whitehouse protesting #KeystoneXL

March 2nd, 2014 · No Comments

Today, some 400 university students were arrested at the White House.  These students are a leading wave of what could be the largest civil disobedience movement in the United States in decades.  Echoing the over 1200 arrested two summers ago, also at the White House fence, these 400 — and the thousands who marched from Georgetown to the White House with them — have a simple message to President Barack Obama:

Live up to your rhetoric on climate change.

Deny the Keystone XL pipeline due to its detrimental implications for fostering catastrophic climate chaos.

Put the U.S. — and us — on a path toward climate solutions.

Thelma and Louise, Scott (1991) Let us be clear, the decision as to Keystone XL pipeline is not ‘it’ on climate issues.  If every other fossil foolish project proceeds, the United States keeps promoting coal exports, and there are not a myriad of other shifts for the better globally, approving Keystone XL will only be slight additional pressure on the gas pedal as we hurtle over the climate cliff.  Keystone XL is significant only if we have any seriousness about averting catastrophic climate chaos. Denying Keystone XL will be a statement that President Obama is not interested in emulating Thelma and Louise — that he is serious about putting an end to the United States of Petroleum even when facing pressure from the Petro State to the north to foster greater exploitation of the Tar Sands climate bomb.

These 400 could represent the first of many to come. Facing a ethically (if not outright) corrupt State Department review process, Americans of all colors, races, creeds, economic status, ages, and communities have committed themselves — as part of XLDissent — to follow the 400 into the breach in the call for climate sanity.

Climate change has many faces — weather whiplash is one.  Yet again this winter, the Washington, DC, area is going to see a rapid 30+ degree shift in temperature. The 400 arrived at the White House in temperatures hovering around 60.  By tomorrow, at this time, the White House should be bathed in white — with many inches of snow and ice.  This is a signal of climate chaos reality just as the 400 arrested are a signal calling for sanity when it comes to Keystone XL.

President Obama has said some strong words as to climate change. He has ordered Administration action that will reduce carbon pollution and shift us from ‘business as usual’ toward lesser carbon emissions.  The Keystone XL decision is his — this is an action that he can, and should, take to signal that it is no longer ‘business as usual’ and that we will fight to create a prosperous, climate-friendly future for America.

“Obama was the first President I voted for, and I want real climate action and a rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline,” said Nick Stracco, a Senior at Tulane University and one of the lead organizers of XL Dissent. “The people that voted him into office have made it absolutely clear what we want, and that’s to reject Keystone XL.”


  1. See after the fold for press release on protest.
  2. See Jamie Henn,, at HuffPost.
  3. National Journal article makes clear that XLDissent doesn’t plan to play softball with the White House.
  4. This MSNBC reporting highlights the political risks from a Keystone XL approval.
  5. For a short explanation, see Why Keystone XL is not in the U.S. national interest.


March 2, 2014

Keystone XL Protest at the White House Leads to Mass Arrests

Over 1,200 young people take part in XL Dissent protest; More than 400 arrested in the largest act of civil disobedience at the White House in a generation

Washington, DC — The largest youth civil disobedience at the White House in a generation took place this afternoon to protest the Keystone XL pipeline, with an estimated 400 students arrested after a march and rally with more than 1,200 participants.

“Obama was the first President I voted for, and I want real climate action and a rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline,” said Nick Stracco, a Senior at Tulane University and one of the lead organizers of XL Dissent. “The people that voted him into office have made it absolutely clear what we want, and that’s to reject Keystone XL.”

The day began with a rally at Georgetown University. Students then visited Secretary of State John Kerry’s house, where they unfurled a giant mock oil spill on the street and called on him to push President Obama to reject the pipeline. The march continued to the White House, where after a short rally in Lafayette Park, students handcuffed themselves to the White House fence and created another giant human oil spill on the sidewalk.

“An entire movement has thrown itself into in this Keystone fight, from local frontline groups to big national green organizations,” said co-founder Bill McKibben. “But this weekend shows the power and bravery of some of the most crucial elements: young people, and activists who understand the centrality of  environmental justice.”

Park Police took over four hours to arrest the massive crowd at the White House. Students are being taken to a police facility in Anacostia, Maryland, where they will receive a $100 fine and be released with a citation.

In a recent poll, 70% of young voters said that support for action on climate change will affect who they vote for, and 73% said they’d vote against a politician who wasn’t addressing the problem. An overwhelming 80% of young people support the President taking action to address climate change, suggesting that a pipeline rejection based on climate impacts would be widely applauded.

“All Americans deserve to live safe and healthy lives that aren’t shadowed by worsening super storms, droughts, floods, and wildfires brought on by dirty fossil fuels. And it’s America’s youth who have the greatest stake in the Keystone XL tar sands decision,” said Sierra Club Executive Driector, Mike Brune, in a statement released on Friday. “Today the Sierra Club and our 2.4 million members and supporters stand in solidarity with the youth who are marching in Washington, D.C. to tell the president to embrace clean energy and reject tar sands once and for all.”

Many of the students taking part in the protest are doing so out of a desire to stand in solidarity with communities that are facing the direct impacts of the fossil fuel industry and the climate crisis, from indigenous communities living near the tar sands to ranchers and farmers who are facing off against pipelines and fracking in their backyards.

“I come from Morocco, and we face a lot of problems because of climate change–people are actually praying to get rain,” said Mariam Khoudari, a student at Bryn Mawr college who is attending the rally. “I’m here because the impact of Keystone XL would make those prayers unanswerable.”

Today’s civil disobedience could be a sign of things to come if President Obama moves forward with approving Keystone XL. More than 70,000 people have signed an online “pledge of resistance” committing to engage in civil disobedience to stop the pipeline.

XL Dissent is being organized by a network of young people across the country who have come together over email and social media. The action is also being supported by organizations such as and the Energy Action Coalition.


Hi-res photos can be found here:

A Politico slideshow of photos from the protest can be seen here:

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