By Bill McKibben
September 1, 2011
|Protests in New Zealand
Protests against a proposed tar-sands pipeline, which have already mushroomed into the largest civil disobedience actions in America in many years, broke out across the globe today, with solidarity demonstrations at U.S. and Canadian embassies and consulates on six continents.
In Durban, South Africa, visiting Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had to cross a picket line thrown up by climate justice campaigners. “We were wearing Barack Obama T-shirts,” said organizer Patrick Bond. He said the pickets would continue weekly. In Wellington, New Zealand, 35 campaigners carrying signs that said “We Are All Downstream” and “Don’t Tar Canada’s Reputation” gathered with an oil-stained flag outside the Canadian embassy. “The Embassy shut down for the afternoon rather than deal with us,” said Aaron Packard, Pacific director for the climate campaign 350.org.
Delegations delivered letters to embassies in Rio de Janeiro, Cairo, Bonn, Mumbai, Sao Paolo, and Lima. “The energy here in front of the White House is amazing, so I’m not surprised it’s radiating out across the globe,” said Rebecca Tarbotton, executive director of the Rainforest Action Network.
“It’s the first truly global problem we’ve ever faced, so it makes sense we’re building the first truly global movement.” Today, 144 protesters were packed into police vans in front of the White House, bringing the total number of people arrested since Aug. 20 to 843. The sit-in in front of the White House will continue through Sept. 3.
“I’ve been amazed every single day of this protest,” said Jamie Henn, who helped organize the protest. “Most of the people here have not only never been arrested at a demonstration, they’ve never been arrested period. It’s tough for them to disobey a policeman and get led away in handcuffs, but people are ever more eager to participate — and the news from around the world charges them all up.”