Washington, DC, February 13, 2013, 11:40am– Two Texas residents – Yudith Nieto of Manchester, Houston, and Jerry Hightower of rural Pittsburg – along with dozens of other environmental activists have placed themselves onto the north-facing fence of the White House to protest the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Jerry has cuffed himself onto the fence and Yudith is sitting on the pavement against the fence. Cherri Foytlin, who in last October chained herself to the gates of a Keystone XL construction yard, is lined up alongside Jerry. They are joined by dozens of others impacted by the pipeline and engaged in the fight against tar sands to demand that President Obama deny the permit for Keystone XL, stop lying about his so-called past efforts to do so, and prohibit any future development related to tar sands.
Check out this list of participants in this Tar Sands Action and learn why these people have decided to risk arrest against KXL. Also check out our spotlight below on two Texan residents who drove all the way to DC to deliver their cries for justice and offer hope through civil disobedience.
I am committed to amplifying the voices of communities of color that are systematically silenced, like mine, that are being affected by environmentally destructive industries, and experience environmental racism and classism. I am participating in this action because I believe it will help me to advocate for my community and further my ability to help make their voices a part of this movement to empower people to build a community of resistance to confront these injustices.”
Yudith Nieto was born in Mexico and grew up in the fence-line refining community of Manchester in Houston, TX. Living in a community that is being exploited by industry inspired Yudith to become involved in the environmental justice movement. Yudith has worked with Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services and has been organizing with the Tar Sands Blockade for the past 3 months to organize direct actions and advocate for her community. Yudith works with 3rd and 4th graders in the Southwest side of Houston coordinating a Healthy Living program and teaching children about environmental issues that affect their communities. Yudith is dedicated to confronting the petrochemical industries that perpetuate environmental racism and classism in marginalized communities of color.
My name is Jerry Hightower. I am a Texas born American who loves my state and my country. For the last several months I have had to stand by and watch a land grab occur by a foreign company (TransCanada) through my entire state and family’s front yard. This is all after President Obama was on the national news stating that he had stopped the pipeline. I want this path of destruction to end.”
Jerry is nephew to David Hightower, whose muscadine grape vineyard was destroyed by Keystone XL construction despite protests by Tar Sands Blockade and the objections of the local community.
Follow this historic action live on Twitter!
UPDATE: 1:12pm – Last protesters arrested.
Check out this release from Tar Sands Action’s website.
UPDATE: 1:00pm – 350.org founder Bill McKibben just arrested.
UPDATE: 12:49pm – Sierra Club board member Jim Dougherty just got arrested.
UPDATE: 12:46pm – Anti mountaintop removal activist Maria Gunnoe just arrested.
UPDATE: 12:42pm – First police wagon full of protesters just drove away with motorcycle escort.
UPDATE: 12:36pm – Jerry still locked to the fence, in high spirits
Jerry Hightower is the nephew of David Hightower, whose land was forcefully taken by TransCanada by eminent domain and whose muscadine vineyards were destroyed in order to make way for the tar sands pipeline.
UPDATE: 12:25pm – 20 protesters left, handcuffed to fence, still holding strong.
UPDATE: 12:20pm – Yudith Nieto has just been arrested.
Yudith is from the fence-line refining community of Manchester. Her community is already living in an unbearable situation, once the southern segment of the KXL is completed tar sands will be pumped to refineries in Houston where marginalized communities of color will be forced to breathe their cancerous emissions.
UPDATE: 12:16pm – Sierra Club president Allison Chin has just been arrested.
Chin’s arrest marks the first act of civil disobedience endorsed by the Sierra Club in the organization’s 120-year history.
UPDATE: 12:15pm – arrests have begun. Cherri Foytlin has just been arrested.
UPDATE: 12:03pm – first dispersal order given.
Protesters are singing “We Shall Not Be Moved”.
UPDATE: 11:55am – police are barricading the area to separate protesters.