More than 100 young people stormed a TransCanada office in Houston, Texas on January 7 as part of a Tar Sands Blockade mass action targeting company offices across the United States. Blockaders streamed into the Houston office, occupying the space with their own hand-crafted “KXL pipe monster.”
Activist Alec Johnson was arrested while refusing to leave the lobby of the Houston office after police ushered protesters outside. A videographer with the Chicago Indymedia Center was also arrested. Four others were arrested in a separate action in Liberty County, Texas for interrupting construction at Keystone XL work sites.
Solidarity actions took place in Michigan, Maine, Massachusetts, Wisconsin and New York, with banks known to have investments in the Alberta tar sands acting as prime targets. In Massachusetts eight student organizers locked themselves inside a TransCanada office, super-gluing their hands together to symbolize how fossil fuel corporations have us locked into to irreversible climate change. The sit-in was organized by Students for a Just and Stable Future, a student coalition also campaigning to divest university endowments from the top 200 fossil fuel companies.
One of those students arrested in Massachusetts was Lisa Purdy, a student organizer with the Brandeis Divestment Campaign Coalition at Brandeis University. Purdy told Campus Progress about her work on divestment back in November, and after she was released from jail we caught up with her again.
“If we want to be building this new economy that’s not based on fossil fuels than we need to be fighting at every level,” Purdy said. “So we have people fighting down in Texas against the actual infrastructure, we have people fighting in the courts, we have people getting arrested at related offices of TransCanada, and we have people working at their universities to divest.”
Purdy said she felt ecstatic after she was released and hopes that her action will inspire similar actions in across New England.
Assistant District Attorney Julie Richard said the state of Massachusetts will seek “considerable restitution for the costs of removing the protesters," but she did not mention what the amount would be, according to the Westborough Daily Voice.
“Right now we’re unaware of the costs we have to pay for the exact decision or actions led to those costs,” Alli Welton—another student working on divestment at Harvard University who was also among those arrested during the Massachusetts action—told Campus Progress. “It would be unfair for the Westborough taxpayers to pay for the attention that TransCanada has drawn because of its ethically dubious actions.”