At noon on Friday in Washington, about 850 protested gathered outside the Ronald Reagan Building, where the last hearing on the Keystone XL Pipeline was taking place.
Many carried signs such as: “President Obama, Say No to KXL,” “Stop the Pipeline,” “Green Jobs Yes, XL-No,” “How Degenerate Are We? Tarsands: Dirtiest Oil on Earth,” “Fund Mass Transit, Not Big Oil,” and “Stop Stripmining the Review Process.”
Four young people marched around holding up a giant inflated globe.
One person hel a large whooping crane puppet.
The group Emma’s Revolution’s sang a song called “Occupy the USA,” which also had the line, “Democratize the USA.”
Rose Marie Berger from Sojourners, the leftwing evangelical group based in Washington, addressed the crowd.
If Obama did the right thing and blocked the pipeline, “We will defend him,” she said. “However, if he does not do the right thing, if he lets this pipeline go through, there will be holy hell to pay.”
Bill McKibben of 350.org followed in the same vein. “This will be the defining fact about Obama and energy, and about Obama and the corporations,” he said. “This is the gut check. This is where we’re going to find out what he’s made of.” As a red-tailed hawk circled above in the beautiful blue sky, McKibben quoted Obama from the campaign trail when he said his election would mark “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”
McKibben pointedly added: “We need to somehow to find that guy we thought we elected, find where they’re keeping him captive and release him.” At that, some in the crowd started to chant, “Free Obama!” McKibben denounced the hearing as “a sham,” saying the companies had “rigged this game a long time ago.” Taking the long view, he said that this campaign is “not about changing our light bulbs but about changing our country.”
He announced that on November 6, there will be another demonstration to surround the White House.
“We don’t know if we’re going to win this fight,” he said, “but there was no fight a few months ago.” And he thanked everyone for joining the fight. Said McKibben: “All of this matters.”
If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story "Wall St. Protesters Show the Way."
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