civil disobedience

Bidder 70 Saturday, 11:30am in room 407 (follow signs past the workshop rooms, through a big hall and up another set of stairs)
Q&A with Peaceful Uprising

Bidder 70 centers on an extraordinary, ingenious and effective act of civil disobedience demanding government and industry accountability. In 2008, University of Utah economics student Tim DeChristopher committed an act which would redefine patriotism in our time, igniting a spirit of civil disobedience in the name of climate justice.

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Reel Power brings you stories from the frontline of our energy future that will get your community talking and taking action. From a woman in Kentucky fighting for her homeplace against the ravages of mountaintop removal, to a Gulf Coast community banding together to save their land and culture - Reel Power films capture the voices of individuals and the strength of communities standing up for a just and sustainable future.

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This morning I was arrested in front of the White House.

I sat down and got arrested to show that we are determined to see President Obama take decisive action on climate change by rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline.

As one of the youth leaders participating in this demonstration, today I stood for our generation.

Never before have the stakes been higher to take action on climate change. In 2012, extreme weather events took a harrowing toll on people across the United States and the world. If we fail to take action, millions of people around the world will suffer. There simply is not an option to sit on the sidelines and let this moment pass.

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“Fear is the Weapon” was inspired by the story of Tim DeChristopher, who went to federal prison in order to save 22,000 acres of land from criminal drilling by the fossil fuel industry. The video, directed by industry veteran Ron Sperling, represents so much more than one man. It represents a global movement, united by a common goal: to bring lasting social and environmental justice to this world.

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Cross-posted from the Coal Export Action

On Wednesday, over 30 people gathered in Helena, Montana’s Constitution Park to support the venerable US tradition of civil disobedience. Immediately before an omnibus court hearing for the 23 people arrested during last August’s peaceful protests against coal exports at the Montana Capitol, the group gathered with signs reading “Support the Coal Export Action 23,” and “No More Coal Exports.”

The rally in support of the Coal Export Action also coincided with an international week of climate solidarity, initiated by organizers of the Tar Sands Blockade in East Texas. It’s a good time to be organizing; as the Tar Sands Blockade puts it, “The aftershock of Sandy still being felt on the East Coast, it’s the hottest year on record, and families most affected by climate change are increasingly bearing the brunt of dirty extraction.”

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The last few days in Montana must have made Big Coal very, very nervous.

First, around 100 people gathered outside the Montana Capitol on August 13th to protest state decision makers’ support for coal export projects, which would see Montana become an international coal colony so Big Coal can profit while coal trains and mines expose our communities to poisons. We then stormed into the Capitol building itself, dropping off letters for State Land Board members Governor Brian Schweitzer and Secretary of State Linda McCulloch.

Then, over the course of a week, 23 activists (myself included) were arrested at the State Capitol protesting coal exports, in one of the largest acts of nonviolent civil disobedience Montana has seen in recent years. As far as anyone I’ve talked to has been able to tell, it’s the biggest climate-related civil disobedience the state has seen, period.

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Cross-posted from CounterPunch

It was the largest mass environmental civil disobedience in a generation.

Over 1200 were arrested over a two week period after writer Bill McKibben had called for urgent action to pressure President Obama to deny the permits for the Keystone XL pipeline. McKibben referred to the pipeline as a “carbon bomb” that would have had dire implications for both eco-systems and communities from Alberta to the Gulf Coast, and the climate as well.

I’ve worked in anti-war, environmental and anti-corporate movements for the past twelve years. I’ve been arrested doing various forms of civil disobedience ten times now. I’ve chained myself to ExxonMobil’s headquarters, helped to hang a banner on the Golden Gate Bridge for Tibet and spent five days in an Australian jail in 2005 for teaching students and environmentalists civil disobedience tactics.

Besides risking arrest numerous times, I’ve also organized dozens of similar actions as well. I always feel every action is somewhat the same, but then different as well.

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It may not be obvious at first blush, but the immigration and environmental movements share a lot in common. Both are people-powered movements against the interests of a powerful and privileged few. Both struggle against issues that negatively affect the daily lives of everyday people. Both find that their greatest strength lies in organizing against the powers that be. Both movements are fighting uphill battles against ignorance and misinformation.

Because they have so much in common, there’s a lot that they can learn from one another. In light of recent news on both administrative relief for DREAMers, as well as the Supreme Court’s ruling on SB 1070, the time is right to reflect on the immigrant rights movement’s years of action, and what young climate activists can learn and apply in their own work.

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"I am speaking on behalf of the United States of America because my negotiators cannot. The obstructionist Congress has shackled justice and delayed ambition for far too long. I am scared for my future. We need an urgent path to a fair, ambitious, and legally binding treaty. You must take responsibility to act now, or you will threaten the lives of youth and the world's most vulnerable. You must set aside partisan politics and let science dictate decisions. You must pledge ambitious targets to lower emissions, not expectations. 2020 is too late to wait."

With these words, scrawled on a piece of notebook paper trembling between my fingers, I stood up and interrupted the lead US negotiator at the UN climate change talks, Todd Stern.

As I spoke, Mohammad Al-Sabban- the senior economic advisor to Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources- who was presiding over the session, rebuked, “No one is listening to you.”

But what came next, remarkably, was that people listened.

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