Yesterday Jane and Scarecrow of FDL along with friends like Lt Dan Choi and Bill McKibben were arrested in front of the White House calling on President Obama to block the tar sands pipeline planned by Keystone XL. We wanted to share a bit of information on civil disobedience and how you can join this action too.

Civil disobedience is a powerful way to deliver a very clear message to those in authority — and it’s in the message, not the arrest, that your action has power. The strength of your message and of your commitment to delivering it is your intention to speak that message even if those in power arrest you for it, your choice to back up your message with your body and your freedom.

The Keystone XL Pipeline plan continues the destruction caused by the oil sands development to indigenous lands and threatens to push us irrevocably global warming damage:

As the climatologist Jim Hansen (one of the signatories to this letter) explained, if we have any chance of getting back to a stable climate “the principal requirement is that coal emissions must be phased out by 2030 and unconventional fossil fuels, such as tar sands, must be left in the ground.” In other words, he added, “if the tar sands are thrown into the mix it is essentially game over.”

President Obama has the ability to stop this pipeline — and we have the ability to make it clear that we expect him to do just that.

Tar Sands Action are organizing the sit-ins – a series of actions from August 20th to September 3rd. Here’s how they describe the plans:

The current plan is to commit a simple, sit-in style action at The White House fences, where there is a statute that restricts such activities. This action will be repeated daily as people come into town, keeping this sustained pressure on the issues. We expect people to remain civil and peaceful, acting in a dignified manner that is as serious as these issues are.

While arrests are a potential outcome from this action – being arrested is not the goal: Our intent is to send a message that these issues are so urgent and serious that we will escalate our pressure and commitment to make sure that the Keystone XL Pipeline is not approved. If that involves risking arrest, we are prepared and willing to take that risk and deal with the consequences. We believe that the risks of inaction are far greater than the risks of taking action.

To participate, you should plan to be in DC for three consecutive days – one for travel and training, one for the action, and one for any potential legal issues. When you sign up, please indicate which days you plan to be in DC, so that we know how many people to expect for our training sessions. Sign up here.

The organizers also have some initial legal information for participants – and if you are planning to join these actions, you should plan to attend the evening training scheduled for the night before your sit-in date. You can read the legal background here – and check the training schedule here. Click here for a full legal memo and FAQs.

As we saw yesterday, the usual practice of releasing arrestees for sit-ins is no longer SOP. In fact, the police have made it clear that they are using jail time to try to discourage people from participating in the rest of these actions – a choice sadly ironic as the capital prepares to commemorate Martin Luther King with the dedication of the MLK Memorial on the National Mall on August 28th.