Seven people were arrested in East Texas today after they set up a human blockade intended to halt the construction of the southern leg of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. In stark contrast to the protests held at the nation's capital last year, the most recent acts of civil disobedience have drawn little media attention.
On its blog, the group, which calls itself Tar Sands Blockade, takes pains to point out that the protest was staged not by professional activists, but by ordinary citizens. Comprised of farmers, ministers, and grandmothers, each from varying political backgrounds (some are affiliated with the Tea Party, others skew environmentalist), they nonetheless share a common goal:
Each participated because they fear that the construction of the tar sands pipeline will destroy their homes and communities, some of them quite literally—TransCanada, the company behind Keystone, has instituted eminent domain to seize citizens' homes.
So earlier today, the seven protesters chained themselves to a truck hauling the materials necessary to build it. The Tar Sands Blockade website ran a live blog of the action. Here's a typical dispatch:
**10:00AM – 4 Blockaders Have Locked Themselves to a Pipe-carrying Truck In Livingston, TX, bringing construction on the Keystone XL pipeline to a stop!!Shortly after that, the three protesters who weren't chained to the truck were arrested by local police. Generally, however, people were supportive of the cause:
Just minutes ago four landowner advocates and climate justice organizers have locked themselves to the underside of a massive truck carrying 36″ pipe intended for Keystone XL construction. The truck is parked, idled at the entrance of the pipeyard, rendering construction activity impossible. Seven blockaders total are onsite risking arrest.
"UPDATE: 12:30PM – Workers are giving water to our blockaders.
Human compassion shines brighter than Keystone XL’s industrial devastation!"
All seven blockaders were eventually arrested, and construction of the pipeline was halted for the day.