On May 15, 350 Madison took part in Break Free Midwest in Whiting, Indiana, home to the world’s largest BP oil refinery. The event was one of a series of actions taking place around the world to demand that fossil fuels remain in the ground.
I had planned to risk arrest, but in consultation with the organizers, I decided not to. My health issues were too much for a jail to handle. I was a little bummed about not risking arrest, but glad not to miss the bus home (which would have happened if I had been arrested). On Saturday, we arrived in Chicago in time for the civil disobedience training. That included a stop just outside Madison to pick up 10 people from the broken-down Minnesota bus. The rest of them came on a much later bus.
I’m really glad my husband Ken and I got a hotel room as there were about 200 people bunked down in the sanctuary of the Lutheran Church (with not many bathrooms). I warned the manager of the gas station next door to the church that on Sunday morning there would be 200 people looking for coffee. He thought he might offer us some kind of discounts.
Ken and I stayed at one of the casinos along the lake. That was a trip! All the bathroom fixtures were “gold.” Oh yeah, and we were on the 13th floor. I guess “lucky 13” is okay for a casino.
We had a “you can’t get there from here” time trying to get a taxi to take us to Whiting Lakefront Park on Sunday for the action. There was a two-hour delay for the taxi, which was bad timing for us. We ended up hiring an Uber driver, who came in eight minutes.
At the action on Sunday, I really enjoyed the ceremony to bless the waters. I had brought water from home from two sacred springs in Lake Wingra and also from near the headwaters of the Yahara/Lake Mendota.
The speakers were inspirational. Bill McKibben was exhausted from speaking at a bunch of rallies in the previous two days but responded to organizers’ entreaties to come (as in, “we’re ground zero for tar sands—we need your blessing on this!”).
The march went well, up to a point. It was waaaay longer than I was ready for. I’m afraid I caused a small problem for the organizers because I just couldn’t walk the extra mile or so back to the bus, especially not in the 15 minutes we had.
I could have watched the drama unfolding for the arrests because we were right there, but at that point I was too tired. Since I was the official 350 Madison tweeter, I had been taking photos of the action and the speakers, and tweeting text, throughout the day. Ken was kind enough to take a few photos of the arrests that I could tweet once we were on the bus.
There were 41 arrests. The police used the “catch and release” method of dealing with the protestors. It was all very calm and civilized.
I’m glad I went, although It took me about three days and some extra Naproxen to recover. Local 350 folks are pumped!