Before the sun rose over Washington, DC on Wednesday morning, seven Greenpeace activists, armed only with their climbing gear, scaled a 270-foot crane not 5 blocks from the White House to hang a 35-foot by 70-foot bright yellow banner on which the single word, “RESIST” was written in large black letters.
Using their own bodies as ballasts to keep the banner unfurled in the breath-sucking January wind, the “Magnificent Seven,” dangled and perched all day and long into the night, protesting, said Greenpeace spokesperson Travis Nichols to the New York Times, the
“environmental , economic and racial injustice that Trump and his administration have already laid out and put into practice.” (1)
The day before, the Trump Administration had issued a gag order for Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture employees, prohibiting them from “providing updates on social media or to reporters,” according to The Guardian, and from issuing any new contracts or grants. That same day, Trump’s pen, ever busy scrawling, signed an executive memorandum reinstating the construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, the later grazing the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal lands and drinking water.(2) With so many anti-environmental policies oozing out of the White House on Tuesday, Wednesday’s high-flying, death-defying Greenpeace protest could not have come at at better time.
The courage of these seven protestors should inspire us all to activism. After long hours spent swinging in the high winds, dangling from climbing harnesses, the Magnificent Seven began a slow descent to the ground where police waited to take them into custody.
A certain amount of credit must also be given to the Washington, DC Police for not rushing the crane or bombing the protestors with tear gas and rubber bullets. Their patience during the protest and their respect for the First Amendment, allowed all seven protestors to safely descend and should serve as a model for law enforcement during future protests.
The same can not be said for the North Dakota Law Enforcement who, according to NBC News,, employed tear gas, rubber bullets, concussion grenades and water cannons on the Standing Rock protestors in 23-degree weather last October.(3) Trump did not need water cannons or concussion grenades to undo the ban on pipeline construction that resulted from the standing Rock protests, just the flick of his felt-tip pen on Presidential Memoranda 82 FR 8661. (4)
Hasn’t the United States government done enough to Native Americans over the centuries. Must we yet lob tear gas bombs and concussion grenades at them for trying to keep crude oil out of their drinking water?
Granted, I did not vote for the current Republican Regime—I proudly confess a progressive bias—but in this latest deluge of hurried executive actions and memoranda, consequences—effects on real people far down the food chain from the Billionaire Boys Club—are not being considered. There is a cold caprice in the way that these executive actions are being churned out, a thoughtlessness, a heartlessness, a complete lack of empathy. For every job a pipeline creates, must someone’s drinking water be contaminated? I dearly hope our new leaders will find some compassion, but compassion, especially for the less fortunate, has never been part of the GOP dogma.
Many thanks to the Mag7 for their devotion to cause and for giving us a truly iconic symbol. I hope Greenpeace organizers will design T-shirts using the symbol, sell them on Greenpeace.org and use the money to heal our world.
“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.”
― Mahatma Gandhi (5)
- Bromwich, Jonah Engel; Greenpeace Activists Arrested After Hanging Resist Banner in View of the White House; The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/25/us/greenpeace-resist-banner-protest-trump.html?_r=0
- Lartey, Jamiles; Trump bans Agencies from providing updates on social media or to reporters: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/24/epa-department-agriculture-social-media-gag-order-trump?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other
- Stellow, Tim et.al.; Dakota Pipeline: Protestors soaked with water in freezing temperatures: http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/dakota-pipeline-protests/dakota-pipeline-protesters-authorities-clash-temperatures-drop-n686581
- Wikipedia: List of Executive Actions by Donald Trump. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_executive_actions_by_Donald_Trump
- Good Reads: http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/environment