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December 08, 2016
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Protesting the tar sands pipeline

Marygrace Kennedy at the Tar Sands Action just before her mother, Virginia was arrested.

Virginia: Someone of apparent authority thought they might discourage the waves of protestors coming over the next two weeks by holding us in jail. Even the arresting officers seemed surprised when this decision was made. We were taken to a holding cell in the DC prison system. I was with 12 other women from ages 20 to 70, a few of whom were politically active and some of whom had never protested anything, but every one of whom decided that this is the issue of issues because we are talking about the earth itself, the viability of human life on our planet, a planet we are irreversibly harming.

They decided they had to join with all the other voices trying to make President Obama listen, trying to give him courage to take this stand against a fossil fuel industry that wants everyone to believe we only have the choices they give us. For a majority of the weekend, we were in a holding cell; a freezing cement cellblock with no windows and one solid metal door, no way to see out. No blankets. Nowhere to lie down. An open toilet in the corner. Glaring fluorescent lights that never dimmed. We were kept without food or water for 18 hours. And then given bread, cheese and water every 12 hours after that.

Marygrace: Until late Saturday night, we didn’t even know where the women were being held. When we finally found out we were told that we couldn’t see them. Sunday was the longest day. The friends of my mom I was staying with were on the phone with lawyers and cops all day trying to figure out what was actually going on. I went to sleep worried about my mom and not sure what the outcome would be.

On Monday, we arrived at the courthouse early. Family and supporters were there waiting. I heard every “what if” possible. What if they get 90 days? What if they have to stay in DC for three months and do community service? I was really worried walking into the courtroom. The “trial” lasted about two minutes. The judge was clearly annoyed that these people had been kept over the weekend and said “no papers” meaning “no fine and no violation.”