I’ve known some of the sitters for years. We started off organizing small rallies and protests at the University of North Texas – the usual, a forum here, a documentary screening there. Now some of my best friends are sitting in trees to halt construction of the Keystone XL pipeline in Winnsboro, Texas.
I still remember the look on my friend Cindy Spoon’s face as we sat around a fire, contemplating how the Tar Sands Blockade might play out and trying to give each other the mutual strength we would need to move forward in this fight.
“We shouldn’t have to be doing this,” she said as the embers lit up her face that night.
I don’t think I’ve ever agreed more. My friends shouldn’t be up there right now. One should be playing music in a band; another should be backpacking across South America; another should be starting his life in Montana; still another should be making handmade goods for his home business.
They’re up there because they believe it’s up to us slow the literal tides of climate change, and they’re up there to defend homes and families in East Texas.
“There are a lot of things we can do that feel really good, or feel effective because it’s what we know, it’s what we’re comfortable with, and then there’s taking a good hard look at the situation that we’re really in, and really understanding just how bad things are,” one tree-sitter told Truthout before he went up to stay indefinitely. “It’s been a really difficult journey.”
The Keystone XL pipeline is set to deliver toxic tar sands bitumen from Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the Gulf Coast through Texas landowner David Daniel’s backyard – that is, if these climate justice activists don’t shut the pipeline down first with direct action.
Two Texas-born organizers, Shannon Bebe from Lake Dallas and Benjamin Franklin, a small-business owner from Houston, locked down to a backhoe working nearly 300 yards away from the tree village Tuesday to defend their friends in the trees. The blockaders alleged that they were subjected to pain compliance tactics from police under the active encouragement of TransCanada’s senior supervisors. They were arrested Tuesday and released early Wednesday morning.