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Image from the People's Climate March in New York City in September 2014. (Photo: Shadia Fayne Wood)

'Our Generation, Our Choice,' Say Youth, Readying for Mass Civil Disobedience

Young people from across the country to sweep Washington, D.C. with direct action 'to demand justice on race, climate change, and immigration'

Sarah Lazare

Buoyed by President Barack Obama's fresh rejection of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, thousands of young people from across the country are preparing to unleash on Monday what they say will be the "largest-ever civil disobedience for racial, climate, and immigrant justice."

Under the Banner of "Our Generation, Our Choice," the mobilization will sweep Washington, D.C. one year ahead of the 2016 national elections "to demand REAL leadership and make candidates' agendas work for our movements, and for our future," according to a group statement.

But the real emphasis, say organizers, will be on grassroots movement-building.

"The choice is clear: politicians are failing to take our country to where it needs to go, so a movement of young people will lead us there," wrote Yong Jung Cho of 350.org, Waleed Shahid of Working Families, Devontae Torriente of Million Hoodies, and Sara Blazevic of the Fossil Fuel Student Divestment Network in a recent statement.

"[P]oliticians continue to throw away billions of dollars incarcerating people, deporting mothers and fathers, and polluting our people and our planet," the organizers added. "They continue to saddle us with student debt. They aren’t helping create real jobs that can sustain us. They stand by as many of our friends live in daily fear of police and immigration enforcement. And they continue subsidizing polluting fossil fuel companies who destroy the land we live on and the air we breathe."

"We take action to tell the American people: let’s get it done together," the statement continued.

"The energy for tomorrow is really high," Lindsay Meiman, communications coordinator with 350.org, told Common Dreams from a nonviolent direct action training in Washington, D.C., attended by 400 people.

The mass actions were organized by the climate groups Fossil Fuel Divestment Student Network and 350.org; racial justice group Million Hoodies; and immigrant rights group United We Dream. They have garnered support from numerous other organizations, including the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN).

Dallas Goldtooth, U.S. tar sands campaign organizer for IEN, told Common Dreams that the mass action comes at a time when grassroots movements are proving their clout.

"You have the Keystone XL decision, which is victory for a lot of front-line communities along the route that have been fighting this for seven years now," Goldtooth said. "Look at the Democratic debate in Las Vegas. Not only was Keystone XL mentioned, but also Black Lives Matter. Those are two grassroots-based movements."

"As Indigenous communities, often our struggle as organizers is not just about fighting for environmental protections, sacred sights, or water—but really fighting for our survival, for the right to exists as we want to exist, for the right to self-determination," Goldtooth continued. "I am excited that this is really bringing together all of these different social movements that have been gaining traction over the past few years and demonstrating that they all intersect."


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