The Forward on Climate Rally saw almost 40,000 Americans gather in solidarity to protest the Keystone XL Pipeline, which, if completed and used, scientists say, would effectively end the ability of the Earth to support human life.
The tens of thousands of people who came together in the frigid wind, warmed themselves with the burning inner outrage experienced by anyone who has both heard the facts about this proposed project and has a pulse. Organizers had clearly worked to harmonize protester outrage with what host Reverand Lennox Yearwood told me back stage was a sense of "Positivity. So the people know that, ‘Yes, We Can’ stop the Tarsands Pipeline."
The event was reminiscent of the Democratic National Convention. Only this time, the Occupy Wall Street protesters were part of the event and not protesting outside. Obama’s campaign theme music regularly filled the air with soaring notes and that unmistakably uplifting melody. Beautiful high gloss posters were distributed bearing a pro-environment tweak to the Obama blue-circle-with-red stripe-logo. Those lustrous posters sometimes made for strange bedfellows when juxtaposed with hand-made signs calling for “Massive Civil Disobedience” and others fed up and demanding much needed action.
Most of the people I spoke with had similar refrains; they voted for Obama, yet find his nod to addressing the current climate crisis incompatible with his stated goal of increasing domestic oil production and his call for expanded natural gas drilling. Others believe the current system of government is too corrupt too be addressed through what were once the traditional avenues to create change. Still others were conservatives, libertarians, or independents outraged and concerned for their children's future. Together, they marched from the Washington Monument, to the White House, unified in agreement that the Tar Sands pipeline is a disaster that must be stopped.
In the following video I speak with Van Jones from Rebuilding the Dream, author and activist Naomi Klein, and Sierra Club Director Mary Anne Hitt who all have strong words for President Obama:
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When taken together with the next video of my conversation with retired police chief and Occupy Wall Street supporter Ray Lewis, the discordant sentiment of the protest is palpable. The elegant dance of protest-laden encouragement for President Obama to do the right thing, the decent thing and the moral thing, was artful and intelligent. Time will tell if it was effective.
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Full Length interview with Naomi Klein below the fold.