People Over Pipelines
On Monday, the Supreme Court heard witness arguments concerning the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Right outside, protesters took to the street.
Today I was arrested
Today I was arrested for
Today I was arrested for saying no.
For saying no to dirty energy and big money.
For standing up against pipelines and up for the people.
For standing up to big oil and big gas.
Today I said no to fossil fuels and yes to a better climate for all.
Today, I stood with people of color, Indigenous Communities, Endangered Species and for our climate.
Today I was arrested.
A Brief Legal Background about the Supreme Court Case on Monday, February 24
On Monday, February 24, 2019, witnesses gave oral arguments before the Supreme Court to present their case on why, or why not, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline should be able to cross the Appalachian Trail. More specifically, the issue presented was who had the authority to allow the pipeline to be implemented through the trail; the Park Service or the Forest Service. In 2018, the 4th Circuit found that the Forest Service does not have the authority to grant permission for the pipeline to cross the trail in the George Washington National Forest. As an obstacle for the pipeline project to go foward, this was a victory for environmental justice. However, on Monday, the court listened to witnesses to determine if this ruling should be removed.
Otherwise known as the ACP, the 600 mile pipeline is proposed to cross territory in Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina. As stated on the official Atlantic Coast Pipeline website, Dominion Energy Inc. and Duke Energy Corp. are the companies behind the proposed pipeline, and these businesses believe that the pipeline provides an essential source of energy to many communities. Countless environmental groups, Indigenous communities and many residents of the affected areas believe otherwise. The communities are already supplied with energy, and the pipeline will only bring more pollution, destruction and environmental injustice.
My Personal Experience with this Issue and Movement
Before campaigning with the ‘No Atlantic Coast Pipeline’ action on Monday, I knew that I wanted to become involved with environmental justice movements. In case you didn’t know, environmental justice, or more accurately, injustice, is when certain communities and demographics are disportionately affected by climate change and pollution. Time and time again, history has shown us that people of color, poor or working class people and Indigenous peoples experience the effects of pollution and climate change the most. I took to the internet in an effort to try and find some sort of action, movement or organization working towards a better environment for everyone. It was during this search when I learned about the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the efforts of multiple organizations who were fighting to stop it, and the peaceful demonstration planned on Monday, February 24, the day of the oral arguments.
The day before, on Sunday, I attended a training on how to disrupt business-as-usual in the streets. I had the pleasure of meeting people who shared the goals of working to protect the land and those who lived on it. I learned different techniques on how to best promote change. On the morning of the action, I metroed, bussed and walked my way to the meeting location of all the activists, most of whom came all the way from Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina. After learning more about the legal process of “risking arrest”, we grabbed our signs and walked together towards the Supreme Court. As we walked, we garnered attention, and passer-bys along the way cheered and took pictures. We stopped right in front of the Supreme Court, where a few people gave speeches.
As I looked around, people of all backgrounds and motivations for being there were present. I saw leaders and activists representing Indigenous communities and the Appalachian mountains. I saw North Carolina residents, both young and old. We chanted things like “people over pipelines” and “we shall not move.” It was beautiful, and I occasionally had to choke back tears.
As the police began to get closer and closer, we just continued on peacefully but confidently. They let us go on for awhile, but eventually, they began giving us warnings to get out of the street. During the training, were told that we would be given three warnings, and on the third warning if you didn’t comply, you would most likely be arrested.
By the end of the second warning, most of the activists were on the side of the street supporting those in the middle, risking arrest. I was one of the nine people in the middle. I was a little nervous, but I locked eyes with another activist, and I was given strength. So I continued to chant, sing, dance and raise my voice.
As the group was being arrested one by one, the remaining continued to be loud. I was one of the last to be taken away, and when an officer did come for me, I continued to yell “no pipelines.” I was nervous, but I remembered everything I was standing for and I remembered the brave face of the activist I locked eyes with earlier.
There was a cluster of handcuffed activists and officers near the police vans. As I waited for my turn to enter the van, I overheard an officer asking an non-arrested activist about the pipeline and what the effects of it could be. In another overheard converesation, another officer complemented the braids of a hand-cuffed Indigenous activist.
Finally, we were all compiled into the van. It was full of strong women, and that is something I will always take inspiration from. I sat next to the person I locked eyes with before, and all of us continued to be loud in support of no Atlantic Coast pipeline and environmental justice.
Eventually, we were taken to the jail, processed in the system and all of the women were put into one cell. We talked about various environmental injustices and ideas of what we could do next. All of us were from different places and backgrounds, but even so, there was a lot of laughing and connecting.
In order to be released, we had to be processed and pay $50. This happened one-by-one, but we all waited in the grassy area across from the jail for each other. Once everyone was accounted for, we headed back to the meeting place that morning, had lunch and hugged our goodbyes.