JPMorgan Chase was our target, the largest Wall Street financier of dirty fossil fuels, and our goal was twofold: continue to strengthen and expand our social justice community while demanding that Chase Bank and its shareholders divest from all tar sands projects including Line 3.
The anticipation and energy was palpable as we met in the MN350 office Monday morning, May 21, 2019, sharing contacts and last-minute details before loading up our caravan of vehicles. Our destination: Chicago, the Windy City.
Talk of politics, snacks, shared interests and beautiful Wisconsin countryside ushered us toward Chicago. As we entered the city limits toll roads and never-ending traffic greeted us.
Our first planned stop was a meetup Monday evening with Rising Tide Chicago, Rainforest Action Network, frontline leaders, Water Protectors and other local and regional partners. We were greeted with warm smiles, blessings and pizzas, salads and yummy chocolate mints to top it off! After our tummies were full the serious work began. Planning is critical in resistance: times, locations, roles, activities, questions, maps, plans A, B & C. I was impressed and motivated by not only the determination but professionalism of this well-seasoned group.
Following our meetup, we were ushered back into vehicles and onto the streets of Chicago. My mind was on overload, and I was not prepared for what I would next see: vulnerable homeless people sleeping on concrete sidewalks on mattresses with blankets wrapping them head-to-toe, lying at the foot of billion-dollar skyscrapers. It shook me to the core while cars and trucks whizzed by them as if they were invisible. It was a stark reminder to why I was there and why I’m committed to the end of fossil fuels and a transition to a just society. Leaving the city, we were welcomed once again into the homes of local groups for the night.
The resistance action went as planned. Indigenous youth delivered a personal message at the shareholder meeting upstairs while our robust rally took place out front. There were speeches by social justice and frontline groups, valve turners, drums, chants, banners, parachutes, signs, and handouts. Law Enforcement was present and prepared, and they let us carry out our peaceful rally.
Following the rally, our exhausted group shared sandwiches, soup and conversation before we parted ways and quietly slipped out into the rainy streets of Chicago to head home ready to continue the pipeline resistance another day.
I recently discovered a podcast, “Cape Up with Jonathan Capehart” and before I knew it I was listening to Martin Luther King Jr.‘s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”, April 16, 1963. Dr. King states, “…we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured…”
Resistance indeed has a way of moving one from victim to creator and part of a larger social justice movement. We can do this!JOIN US
Melanie Weberg is a retired Mpls. public school teacher. She now lives in rural Wisconsin and currently is a citizen science monitor, dogwalker at the local animal shelter and yearns to fight the good fight for climate & social justice issues.