In what has to be one of the more inert demonstrations in the history of environmental activism, a horde of youth protesters reclined on a black tarp outside the White House Sunday, creating a “human oil spill.”
The scene, which resembled a giant public nap, was part of “XL Dissent,” a student-driven protest that aimed to be “an unprecedented action to denounce the Keystone XL pipeline and the ‘all-of-the-above’ energy approach that makes such fossil fuel projects possible.” In addition to the “unprecedented action” of lying on the ground, others cuffed themselves to the White House gate.
Many individuals found themselves in different cuffs as the day wore on; in all, police said that 372 were arrested, the Associated Press reported, though others placed the total closer to 400.
Protesters on Sunday leaned on the importance of the youth vote to President Obama’s electoral success in pressuring the White House to steer clear of the Keystone plan.
“Because the youth vote was a crucial part in both of his elections, we know that we elected him and we voted for a climate champion, not another pipeline president,” Nick Stracco of Tulane University said to CNN.
“President Obama, we voted you in for change. Climate change isn’t what we were looking for,” Hannah Bristol of Middlebury College stated during a rally prior to the White House activity, National Journal reported. The event began as a march at Georgetown University and swung past of the home of Secretary of State John Kerry, whose department is responsible for making a recommendation on the Keystone project, before the protesters arrived at the president’s lawn. Nearly a thousand people were reported to have participated, according to CNN.
Web user James From The Internet captured footage of the happenings outside the White House (NSFW for intermittent swearing):
The pipeline’s fate remains in limbo, even after the State Department released an environmental impact statement a month ago showing that the project would have little effect on carbon emissions. Some opponents have now turned to questioning the pipeline’s impact on public health as a reason for denying approval.
Activists have used the “human oil spill” demonstration as a tactic to protest Keystone XL and other oil-related matters in the past. In 2011, people gathered outside Speaker of the House John Boehner’s district office in Ohio and plopped down on the ground outside his front door:
And just last month, a group urging the Claremont Colleges in California to divest themselves of interests in fossil fuel companies held a bit of outdoor theater involving the spill scene: