In January of this year, the Sierra Club announced that for the first time in its 120 year history they would be participating in "peaceful civil resistance" in the fight against climate change.
Today members of the Sierra Club made good on that pledge, as 48 activists were arrested at the White House.Democracy Now reports on today's arrests:
Forty-eight people, including civil rights leader Julian Bond and NASA climate scientist James Hansen, were arrested Wednesday in front of the White House as part of an ongoing protest calling on the Obama administration to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The action came before a rally planned for Sunday on Washington’s National Mall, which organizers have dubbed "the largest climate rally in history."
Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, explained the justification for breaking the law in protest:
For civil disobedience to be justified, something must be so wrong that it compels the strongest defensible protest. Such a protest, if rendered thoughtfully and peacefully, is in fact a profound act of patriotism. For Thoreau, the wrongs were slavery and the invasion of Mexico. For Martin Luther King, Jr., it was the brutal, institutionalized racism of the Jim Crow South. For us, it is the possibility that the United States might surrender any hope of stabilizing our planet's climate.
Today was just the beginning of a new phase for the climate movement. President Obama has made his intentions to address climate change clear in his inaugural address and Tuesday's State of the Union. But as I wrote last month, action will depend on the pressure placed on the President and Congress by the public. To that end, there is a big rally planned in DC on Sunday, 2/17. Follow 350.org, and ForwardOnClimate.org for more on how you can help this cause.