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Capitol Climate Action, March 2009

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I remember hearing that some folks I knew were planning a mass civil disobedience in Washington DC on climate issues.  Specifically targeting coal  – the Capitol Coal Plant.   I hear they were planning to line up and cross one by one into the hands of the police!  I was like – oh no!   Let’s not do that!  Bad training for confronting power really especially when we are all so fcked and the planet is dying thanks to the neoliberal elites, their cronnies and the democratic party!

Well we did not cross a line, but in a huge march, dropping off color coded contingents as we march around the plant – each group blockading all possible traffic in or out of the plant.    It was a beautiful thing, made even more stunning by the blanket of white snow, 10 or more inched deep that continued to come down and blow around us!

Our spirit was strong and our numbers large.  The police did not want to be arresting anyone today and prepared to wait us out.   After a bit of time, we decided that we did not have time to wait!   We regroups and marched out together having already won a partial victory the day before when Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, blinked and committed to end the use of coal to power the Capitol.   Unfortunately, they chose another polluting fossil fuel – natural gas.

This action had the hope of spawning a new generation of young people into creative nonviolent direct action, a generation that has been indoctrinated into the dominant paradigm by the NGO’s of the Energy Action Coalition and their PowerShift conferences.

While many were inspired, the action was slightly flawed in making the numbers of arrest a mark of victory.  When no arrests were made, some had a sense of failure.    To this, I say, we never intend to get arrested.  That is not why we take the action we do.  If the police arrest us that is their choice.  We then get to choose if or how we will cooperate, if at all, in our arrest.

To me the power of the day was the numbers of people who came out in a blizzard prepared to go to jail in order to close the Capitol Coal Plant, (which we did) and that we did it with such beauty, flow, grace and organization.   That was victory enough for me that day!