Colorado AIM and allies Confront Obama about Keystone XL
Yesterday, we had our action at the Obama speech on the Auraria campus. It was pretty awesome, as was the action on Tuesday, despite the cold and rain and snow. I want to acknowledge the leadership that was shown by Scott, Tessa and Sky, in the lead-up to today's action, and for the courage that they showed, in the face of the Secret Service and other police agencies. They stood for hours in the rain and snow with our banners and messages and bullhorns, outside of the Pepsi Center where Obama had his $5000 per person fundraiser, outside of Obama's hotel, stood in line for hours to get the tickets to get inside the Auraria event, They smuggled banners into the event, past Secret Service security, and raised the banners, and the Oglala Sioux, flag at the critical time. Also essential to the action locally were Robert Chanate (who was central to the organizing, and who held up the banner, too),Carol Berry, Jolynne Locust-Woodcock whose pictures of the event can be found on her Facebook page, and Lance Tsosie, an Indian student from DU. Several others who could not get into the event braved the snow to rally outside, including Viki Eagle and other DU students, Lizzie Kerplanek from CU-Denver and Colorado AIM, and especially to Kia Fathi, a strong and solid ally, who worked tirelessly to support this action. There were other AIM people who helped, too: Brenda Mitchell, Dave and Joylynne Woodcock, Frank who helped with security for us, Harrison Sadler, and Tessa's dad Jacob, mom Bernice, and sister Megan. Deb Freemont was in the event too, but got separated from us by the huge crowd. I also want to commend Steve Keith for creating a beautiful banner for us.
A special message of appreciation to Tom Poor Bear and his daughter, Evangeline, who drove down from Pine Ridge, and who were in there with us. Tom is a long-time AIM veteran of the Trail of Broken Treaties, Wounded Knee "73, Yellow Thunder Camp, Camp Justice, and many other AIM sponsored actions; he is now the Vice-President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Several other members of the OST Council said that they were going to join us, but Tom was the only one with the courage actually to show and confront Obama. He was also instrumental in shouting to Obama about honoring Indian treaties, stopping the Keystone XL pipeline, and respecting our mother the Earth. Also very important to the action was Jennifer Baker, an attorney from the Smith, Shelton and Ragona law firm, who is lead advisor to Tom on the Keystone pipeline impact on the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Jennifer hung in there with us through the actions on Tuesday night, and came into the Obama event, and help us hold up the Keystone banner.
The events above caused Obama to stammer, lose his place in his speech, pause, and then directly to respond to the messages that were shouted, and the message on the banners that were located right in front of him: "Honor Indian Treaties," and "Stop The Keystone Pipeline." Obama stopped and said that a decision had not yet been made, and he said, "I know your deep concern about it. We will address it." The Secret Service then surrounded our group and ordered us to stop shouting, and to take the banners down. When Sky told them that we weren't taking the banners down, they ordered us to leave the room, which we did, eventually.
In the news articles below, you can see that the fact Obama stopped his written speech, and responded to the Keystone issue, was a first. These stories were reported locally, nationally, and internationally -- including on Associated Press, Reuters, and in the New York Times, some links are below -- for more Google news search the terms "Obama, Denver, Keystone."
Indigenous Resistance to the Tar Sands - our local FB page: