Building a Culture of Mass Resistance to Climate Disruption

mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>SNCC grew most directly out of student sit-ins at segregated public restaurants in early 1960; most of the local groups which came together at its founding conference in April of that year were involved with that classic nonviolent tactic. But within months, emerging out of the perceived needs of the movement, SNCC began to shift to a grassroots organizing approach. In the words of Charles Cobb in an article to be found at http://www.sncclegacyproject.org/legacy.html:



http://www.thenation.com/article/176556/grassroots-battle-against-big-oil?page=full#. It is an article about the evolution of the Tar Sands Blockade, a group based primarily in Texas. Begun two and a half years ago by Rising Tide North Texas and others, they have developed from a group primarily taking action to physically disrupt the building of the southern Oklahoma-to-Texas leg of the Keystone XL pipeline to something different, if similar, today. In the words of Ron Seifert, one of Tar Sands Blockade’s founders:

“The idea that you have to go into where the problem is worst—like Mississippi during the civil rights era—you have to get in there and get a foothold. We hope we can empower local-led action and resistance [already happening with groups like Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services]. In Houston itself, there are literally millions of people who are being poisoned. We should be able to empower folks here to rise up and defend their own homes. 

“The industry has shown every intention of escalating the climate crisis beyond certain tipping points, and people in these communities are affected by the industry right now, in desperate ways. We need to ask ourselves as organizers, ‘What does escalation look like? What could possibly be too escalated?’ Physically blockading infrastructure is a great place to start that conversation. We can still build and cultivate a culture of resistance and action, capable of escalating to the point of shutting this stuff down in the future.”

It’s not either/or. It’s not serious nonviolent action vs. day-to-day, longer-term work with local people. It has to be both/and, with the objective of not just small-group civil disobedience but mass cd, with hundreds or thousands taking part. mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>Another immediate front of the climate movement is in Michigan where a group similar to Tar Sands Blockade needs our support right now. The group is the Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MI CATS). They’ve been combining community education with direct action to fight the unpermitted expansion of a major tar sands oil pipeline, the Enbridge pipeline. Enbridge is doing this under the guise of rebuilding from their disastrous 2010 spill of tar sands oil into the Kalamazoo River. Local activists believe that Enbridge plans to double its capacity. This summer, Chris Wahmhoff of MI CATS used a skateboard to wedge himself into the pipeline and shut it down for a day.  A month later, other MI CATS locked down to construction equipment to shut things down again. 

mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>Join Tim (and me and others) in contributing what you can at https://www.wepay.com/donations/micats-support-the-felonious-four. Checks can be sent to MI CATS, 12149 Commerce Rd., Milford, Mi. 48380, and they can be reached at [email protected]. 

"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>Ted Glick is the National Campaign Coordinator of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. Past writings and other information can be found at http://tedglick.com, and he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jtglick.com.

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