Quantcast

Encircling the White House—A New Beginning

Insights + Opinion

Ted Glick

Around noon, as the organizers of the Nov. 6 encirclement of the White House to stop the tar sands pipeline were setting up, someone said, “the flag is flying over the White House, that means President Obama is home.” But a U.S. Park Police officer standing next to me said, “it’s not true, sorry to disappoint, but he’s not home.”

But lo and behold, at 5:15 p.m., as the light was rapidly fading and a beautiful three-quarter moon appeared in the sky over Lafayette Park, when Bill McKibben was wrapping up, speaking about the wonder and power of the day’s event and this movement, a motorcade appeared at the top of Lafayette Park. Someone said, “It’s President Obama,” and Bill proceeded to lead the thousands of people in a chant of, “Yes We Can Stop the Pipeline” as hundreds streamed towards the cars with their flashing red lights. If, indeed, it was Obama, there's no way he didn’t hear us.

This was just one of the amazing things that happened today.

There was the turnout, ten thousand plus people attended the rally.

There was the virtually unprecedented discipline and organization of the 2 p.m. rally which ended just before 3 p.m. despite 17 speakers, including Gloria Reuben, Bill McKibben, Michael Brune, Congressman Steve Cohen, Mark Ruffalo, James Hansen, Naomi Klein, Courtney Hight, Rev. Jim Wallis, Jody Williams, Nebraskan Bruce Boettcher, Larry Schwieger, Roger Touissant, Heather Mizeur, Tom Poor Bear, John Adams and Rev. Lennox Yearwood.

The encirclement worked. And there were probably enough people that if there was the time and resources to do so there could have been two-deep or even three-deep all the way around the White House. Instead, some places had a single line of people, others five-deep. There was a powerful spirit of hope and determination that was palpable as I walked the circle doing a numbers count.

There were large numbers of youth in attendance, perhaps half of the total being under 30 years old. Students came on buses from as far away as Missouri and Florida.

There was the 100 yards-or-so-long “pipeline” which was carried by hundreds up and down Pennsylvania Ave., chanting as they marched.

There were the connections made by many of the speakers at the rally, between the no pipeline movement and the movements against fracking, deepwater oil drilling and mountaintop removal.

Actor Marc Ruffalo gave his two-minute speech without using the electronic mike. He called out “mic check,” thousands repeated it, and he spoke in the Occupy mode effectively and powerfully.

This rally was in no way a culminating event. Just the opposite. At a pre-rally event Saturday, Nov. 5, attended by hundreds of people, the planning for actions and visits over the next few weeks to Obama for America reelection campaign offices was underway. A large demonstration is being organized at the national Obama reelection office on Nov. 16 in Chicago, Illinois at noon.

Bill McKibben was clearly impressed by what took place today and for the first time since he and the other organizers publicly initiated this movement more than four months ago, he said, as he closed the post-encirclement second rally, “we can win this fight.” Yes, si se puede, yes we can stop the Keystone XL pipeline. Yes, we can transform U.S. energy policy and create a new world.

Nov. 6 at the White House is the latest sign that a powerful, loving and hopeful new beginning is here and sinking deeper roots among the people of the U.S.

To view photos from the Nov. 6 event and other Keystone XL events, click here.

For more information, click here.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Earthjustice

By Robert Valencia

In April 2018, Afro-Colombian activist Francia Márquez won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize, thanks to her work to retake her community's ancestral territories from illegal gold mining. However, her international recognition comes at a very risky price.

Read More Show Less

By Stuart Braun

A year after activist Greta Thunberg first stood in the rain outside the Swedish parliament with her now iconic "Skolstrejk för klimatet" — school strike for the climate — placard, the movement she spawned has set the tone for environmental protest action around the world.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Bruno Vincent / Staff / Getty Images

Toy maker Hasbro wants to play in the eco-packaging game. The board game giant will ditch its plastic packaging by 2022. The move means that games like Monopoly, Scrabble and Operation will no longer have shrink wrap, window sheets, plastic bags or elastic bands, as the Associated Press reported.

Read More Show Less
Vaping impaired the circulatory systems of people in a new study. bulentumut / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Vaping one time — even without nicotine — can damage blood vessels, reduce blood flow and create dangerous toxins, according to a new study published in the journal Radiology.

Read More Show Less
A man spreads pesticides on a plantation of vegetables in Rio de Janeiro Brazil. Ze Martinusso / Moment Open / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

Pointing to the deaths of more than half a billion bees in Brazil over a period of just four months, beekeepers, experts and activists are raising concerns about the soaring number of new pesticides greenlighted for use by the Brazilian government since far-right President Jair Bolsonaro took office in January — and the threat that it poses to pollinators, people and the planet.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
SHEALAH CRAIGHEAD

By Elliott Negin

On July 19, President Trump hosted Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins and their families, along with the family of their deceased colleague Neil Armstrong, at a White House event to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first manned landing on the moon.

Read More Show Less
The study looked at three groups of diverse lizards from South America. Daniel Pincheira-Donoso
  1. Cold-climate lizards that give live birth to their offspring are more likely to be driven to extinction than their egg-laying cousins as global temperatures continue to rise, new research suggests.
Read More Show Less
Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Denmark isn't interested in selling Greenland to the U.S., so now President Trump doesn't want to visit.

Read More Show Less