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August 23, 2014
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Protesting the tar sands pipeline

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


When my mom finally walked down the courthouse hallway toward me, I felt the tears I held in all weekend. My mom cried too when we hugged. She looked so tired. She was cold and hungry; she had a bad headache. There was a big group of people waiting outside the courthouse. They brought the protesters food and made them signs. They were so appreciative of every single person that was held in jail. The NPS police thought putting the first group of protestors in jail would discourage everyone else, but it did just the opposite. Seeing how much the sacrifice of this first group of protestors meant to everybody else made me more proud of my mom than I already was. I was proud of all the tar sands protestors.

Virginia: We didn’t sleep at all over the weekend; it was too cold to sit or lay for more than a couple of minutes at a time. They wouldn’t turn the air conditioning down, and we were wearing sundresses and flip-flops. During those long hours, I wondered how I could be in a jail cell with a group of women who were guilty of nothing but trying to get their president to listen to them, to listen to reason. Women who stood quietly with a whole group of citizens who said we want clean energy; an end to oppression by a fossil fuel industry that wants the world to believe we have no choices but the choices they want to give us.

I wondered 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. A few dollars lost, then back to business as usual. 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. I thought about my daughter, my sons, my husband, and how so many people I met who said they were doing this for their children, for everyone’s children.

Marygrace: We’re home from Washington now, but the protestors are still gathering every day as planned. All the arrests now are “post and forfeit.” My mom’s group was the only group to stay in jail overnight.