An open letter to President Obama about the tar sands arrests
I wondered if you knew about Tim deChristopher, the young man in jail for two years for posing as a bidder to save public lands from being auctioned to mining companies. The auction itself was found to be illegal. No consequences for that, though. I wondered if you ever think about the 11 dead men killed in the BP Horizon disaster, the 29 coal miners dead at the Massey coal mine, the reports of negligence, the environmental decimation, all the lives and livelihoods destroyed. Not one indictment. No repercussions really at all.
And then there is us, tax-paying, law-abiding folks freezing in a filthy jail cell for standing politely in front of the White House and asking for clean energy. For asking you to do the right thing. For trying to give you the courage to do the right thing for your daughters and for ours.
I thought about you together with your family in Martha’s Vineyard while we were body searched, shackled, and paraded, ankles chained, into a federal prison cell to await our time in front of a judge while our families worried about where we were and what was happening to us. I wondered how you’d feel if Malea or Sasha ended up in such a situation for such an “offense,” what that would inspire you to do.
I wondered if you ever spent any time in the DC prison right in your front yard, filled with mainly African Americans of every age, many of whom are guilty of nothing much more than being caught in the terrible cycle of poverty and defenselessness generated by a system that would jail them instead of supporting their rights, education or humanity. A system that would incarcerate a poor woman for being drunk on the street and reward a CEO ultimately responsible for the deaths of his own workers with more profits.
I wondered who you are, Mr. Obama, what your values are. Because I can’t really tell. I hold out hope you’ll send a signal and reject this pipeline because I have to hold out hope. But, contrary to that famous slogan of yours, since you came on the scene, there hasn’t been too much change, and you do not make hoping easy.
[Virginia Kennedy is a resident of Dingmans Ferry, PA.]