Last Friday, a judge in Washington, DC, dismissed charges against myself and 12 other people for blocking the main entrance to the Interior Department this past September in protest of the controversial federal program of selling the coal, oil, and gas that you and I own and that are fueling the climate crisis.
The day before the action, we planned and prepped for the events that led up to our arrest. One of those steps included self-identifying as either Code RED, Yellow or Green. Code RED signified those willing to be arrested; the other colors signified those who would support the action in other vital ways.
I was Code RED, as were the other 12.
When I shared my experience a few weeks later with the board of WildEarth Guardians, one of them forebodingly said that if Trump somehow became our president we could all be Code RED.
With that nightmare now fully upon us, and climate chaos surely to worsen during the Trump administration, we are all now Code Red. Here’s a new acronym for Code RED that I hope will guide us during the Era of Trump:
Resist: The outright hostility to our cause is unprecedented and monumental. The attacks and hateful rhetoric about our core public protections are not only threats to our environment; they’re also corrosive to our democracy. The history of social reform is inextricably tied to civil disobedience. It is a vital part of the deeper change we need. But if you can’t do that, then meet with your elected representatives, write letters, deepen your commitment to turn the tide.
Enlist: Though millions of Americans are already committed to fighting for the environment, we can’t do it alone. We must engage others who have yet to join our cause. Seek out new partners, share information, and encourage your friends and neighbors to participate, even in small ways.
Dream: About what’s possible. Because our dreams and ideals are what will keep us going through the long, dark struggles that lie ahead. Don’t ever lose sight of those dreams because if you lose sight, you lose faith. And if you lose faith, you lose vitality and energy. And if we lose energy, we lose the movement. So keep your dreams in front of you.
I was arrested with a group of dreamers whom I’m now privileged to call friends. Among them were Kendra Pinto, a young Navajo woman, whose Diné homeland is being overwhelmed by fracking; Demond Mullins, an African American and army veteran of the Iraq war; Bob Strayer, a grandfather and Unitarian universalist whose home in central Wyoming is not too far from the largest coal mines in the world; and Cherri Foytlin, a Louisiana activist outraged by the damage of drilling in U.S. waters in the Gulf of Mexico and the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Each of us chose to occupy the Interior Department to send an unmistakable message that it’s long past time to end the obsolete and controversial program of selling our public lands and waters to dirty energy companies.
We have much work to do. At WildEarth Guardians, we’re gearing up for—and already deeply engaged in—a long struggle, and we need your help. As for me, now that my community service hours are completed and my arrest record is wiped clean, I am looking for new opportunities to engage in civil disobedience to defend our lands, our climate, and our country.
There are many ways to be Code RED. Writing a letter, engaging decision makers, protesting, social networking. I’m sure some can think of something I haven’t and I’m open to your ideas. I am not asking any of you to get arrested, but I am asking all of you to resist, enlist, and dream.