For years, some of us have been inviting the climate movement to be bolder and more courageous. This past summer, many grassroots activists answered the call like never before. We had the Fearless Summer, Summer Heat, Sovereign Summer and more. Among the many frontlines in this movement, activists in Michigan were fighting the unpermitted expansion of the Enbridge pipeline under the guise of rebuilding from their disastrous 2010 spill in the Kalamazoo River. On the first day of Fearless Summer, Chris Wahmhoff used a skateboard to wedge himself into the pipeline and shut it down for a day. A month later, his cohorts in the Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MI CATS) locked down to construction equipment to shut things down again.
Now all of them have been charged with felonies for this nonviolent civil disobedience, and Chris along with Vicci Hamlin, Lisa Leggio and Barb Carter from the second action have all decided to take their cases to a jury trial.
Civil disobedience has recently been embraced by the mainstream of the climate movement, but these brave four in Michigan remind us that civil disobedience is about more than a photo op. In addition to being a tactic for putting pressure on those in power, when it is carried through all the way civil disobedience is one our most powerful tools for education and movement building. These four are fully committed and willing to sacrifice, and they need our support now.
I know from experience that a jury trial is a fantastic organizing opportunity, but it takes resources to be able to take advantage of that opportunity. Their next court date is September 18th, and there will be plenty more. This will be a long process, and we will have to have their backs the whole way. Their ability to mobilize support and present a strong legal defense will be crucial to the future of our movement. If we continue undermining the power structure that is wrecking the climate, we can expect more draconian responses like this one in the future. Now is the time to send a message that this is a big, interconnected movement that will not back down.
Most importantly, this is an opportunity to define what kind of movement this will be. Those who will take the next bold actions that will continue to be necessary need to know that this movement doesn’t leave people behind. Let this be a movement that holds people. When people take risks and put themselves on the line, let this be a movement that holds them up to amplify their voices and holds them tight to support them through their trials.
Please donate $5 (at least) and pass this on to 5 people (at least) who care about a livable future. Spread the word. MI CATS is not a deep-pocketed group, which is why they are bold enough to push the boundaries and lead the way for our movement. I think they will need to raise at least $100,000 to make the most of this opportunity. They’re not sure that’s possible because they haven’t experienced how big, interconnected and loving this movement can be. I think that’s exactly the kind of movement that we are, and the kind of movement we need to keep being in the future. One of the reasons I want to see them raise this money from thousands of regular people is because Enbridge can’t. Enbridge couldn’t find many people willing to give a dime to support their vision of corporate exploitation, but I think there are millions who share a vision of a healthy and just world and will support those who take a stand to make it happen. Please join me in supporting these activists today and throughout their whole process.
More info here: http://www.michigancats.
If you want to get involved on the ground to support their efforts, contact MI CATS at email@example.com.
Checks can be made out to Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands and sent to 12149 Commerce Road, Milford, MI 48380.