NGOs Kickoff Civil Disobedience Campaign at Chicago Anti-KXL Rally

18 Jun

Even if it annoys you, can you try not to be a prick about it? 

by Panagioti / Earth First! Newswire

6-17-Keystone-action-UprisingWith twenty-two people arrested yesterday morning after a sit-in at the State Department’s Chicago office, it seems environmental civil disobedience may have officially moved from fringe to center. If what Credo says is legit, this action is the first of an effort to mobilize 60,000 people who signed a commitment to risk arrest in escalating protests against tar sands infrastructure.

I’ll admit it can be pretty frustrating to watch big NGO’s build glossy, shallow campaigns off the grassroots momentum created by the efforts of our radical countercultures. It’s tempting to talk shit about how they’ll probably use these pictures in their next mass email fundraising plea while our friends and allies living full time on the front lines are scraping by on stale bagels…  But, in my opinion, it really ain’t worth wasting time on.

I want civil disobedience to become more popular and widely practiced, even if it annoys me. Why? Because these actions make space for growing broader support of direct action in general, if we engage them as such.

Sure, you might end up in an argument with some liberals at these protests about, say, whether or not our new environmental movement should embrace Mapuche political prisoners accused of burning a corrupt land owners home—with said corrupt land owners inside. But this person may never have contemplated the conversation outside of this context, and even if he doesn’t end up giving a shit, perhaps his disgruntled teenage kid that was dragged along to the sit-in might be stoked to find about about the uncompromising solidarity of groups like Earth First!

These are the growing pains of an expanding ecological movement. Don’t shy from them.

The action in President Obama’s hometown is the first of a series of planned acts of civil disobedience this summer calling on the administration to reject the KXL pipeline. (Oh, all 22 demonstrators have since been released.)

Besides, the newly launched KXL Pledge of Resistance campaign isn’t just lead by the phone company folks at CREDO. They are operating with support from groups like the  Hip Hop Caucus and Bold Nebraska.  It’s a good chance to expand our connections. Let’s try not to blow it by being self-righteous pricks.

You know what I’m sayin’?

10 Responses to “NGOs Kickoff Civil Disobedience Campaign at Chicago Anti-KXL Rally”

  1. Jack June 18, 2013 at 7:28 pm #

    Great piece with a great point. This is nothing but an opportunity to expand the environmental direct action base.

    Also I think the Tar Sands Action in 2011 was the first big shift of enviro DA from the fringe to the center.

  2. Patricia Cook June 18, 2013 at 8:03 pm #

    If anything is going to be accomplished, it will take a whole hell of allot of us to do it, and we will have to meet the problems from many sides. Embrace the other groups, bring even those just dragged along by their friends and those not full aware yet. Everyone has to start somewhere.

  3. Earth First! Journal Sonoran Office June 18, 2013 at 9:18 pm #

    But what about the non-violent-Ghandian-civil-disobedience-Industrial-complex that Eisenhower warned of?

  4. BraveWolf June 18, 2013 at 10:03 pm #

    Yes, stop the pipeline and the entire satanic tar sands assault on the planet.

  5. Cooper June 20, 2013 at 2:21 am #

    Terrific piece!

  6. Scott June 20, 2013 at 10:54 am #

    Smart piece, Panagioti. Earth Firsters and other radical environmentalists should be out infiltrating their local Sierra Club boards and the like, and pushing those orgs towards left tactics, strategies and political analysis. If we’re going to build an autonomous left in the environmental movement, we need to use actions like this as “gateway drugs” for the mainstream. Furthermore, this opens up a lot of political space for more radical action. We wouldn’t have had Occupy if not for mainstream folks occupying the Wisconsin statehouse earlier that year.


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