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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Students arrested for Keystone pipeline protes

Published: March 21, 2013
Section: News

On March 11, several Brandeis student activists were arrested for an act of civil disobedience. As part of a group that included students, members of the Massachusetts Methodist clergy, mothers fighting for their children, and concerned community members, 100 people marched into the Westborough, MA office of TransCanada Corporation and, in protest of the Keystone XL Pipeline, held a “funeral” for the loss of their future.

The students were arraigned and released two days later.

“The pipeline will transport the tar sands that climate scientists say will lock us into irreversible global warming,” said Matt Gabrenya ’13, one of the student protesters.

Carrying a coffin with the words “Our Future” written on it, the protesters held flowers and sang an elegy as they marched in procession.

The protest came a week after the U.S. State Department released a widely criticized Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Keystone XL. According to a blog post about the protest, on a website titled “Funeral For Our Future,” the document “minimizes claims about the pipeline’s impact on climate change and on communities who would be at risk for devastating pipeline spills like the 2010 Kalamazoo spill, from which the affected communities are still recovering.”

The blog post states, “The impact assessment also makes the assumption that the Alberta tar sands will be developed regardless of whether Keystone XL goes forward—an assumption that we stand with indigenous communities, whose treaties the Canadian government is violating by allowing development of the tar sands, in rejecting.”

“We did not act in isolation on this day, but as part of an escalating global movement to fight for a stable future, a livable planet, and for justice for affected frontline communities,” Gabrenya wrote.

In January, eight students had locked and glued themselves together in an act of civil disobedience at the TransCanada office. Nationwide, the pipeline has already prompted civil disobedience outside the White House, direct blockades of construction from Texas to Oklahoma, and the largest climate rally in US history. Indigenous communities, as part of the Idle No More movement, have been resisting tar sands extraction in Alberta, Canada.

This protest also kicked off a week of actions for solidarity with other protesters of the Tar Sands Blockade, this week from March 16-24. Protesters from across the country will target the offices of TransCanada and its investors.

“If the tar sands are extracted and burned, it will wipe out my future and the future of my entire generation,” said Will Pearl, a first-year student from Tufts University who was arrested. “If President Obama will not reject the Keystone XL pipeline, we will stop it ourselves. We will rise up and resist—from the backwoods of Texas, to corporate offices in Massachusetts, to the steps of the White House.”