This morning President Obama will give a speech in Cushing Oklahoma to announce his decision to fast-track the Keystone XL pipeline carrying tar sands oil from Cushing to the Gulf. Native Americans gathering to protest at the President's speech will be forced to protest in a cage erected in a local park.
The Natural Resources Defense Council reports:
The White House released a statement that the President will announce two new things this morning. The first is an executive order to improve federal permitting and review of infrastructure projects. The goals seem to be faster and more coordinated permitting while still protecting the health and environment in local communities. But the President is also issuing a memorandum directing federal agencies to give top priority to the southern leg of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and “other projects that relieve bottlenecks.” Again it calls for a balancing of economic needs with needs of local communities and the environment. Unfortunately, in the case of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, the economic needs are all those of the oil industry to move tar sands to the Gulf Coast for export, not of the American people.A press release from the Global Justice Ecology Project, posted on Commondreams and reported at Thinkprogress states:
Native American’s gathering in Cushing, OK for a planned Thursday protest of President Obama’s anticipated words of praise for the Keystone XL pipeline will be forced by local authorities to hold their event in a cage erected in Memorial Park. The protestors were stunned that their community, so long mistreated, would be insulted in such an open manner instead of being given the same freedom of speech expected by all Americans simply for taking a stance consistent with their values. ...It is disturbing to see the use of free speech zones at a Presidential event where Americans come to express their legitimate grievances against an Obama administration policy that will adversely affect their health and heritage.
“President Obama is an adopted member of the Crow Tribe, so his fast-tracking a project that will desecrate known sacred sites and artifacts is a real betrayal and disappointment for his Native relatives everywhere,” said Marty Cobenais of the Indigenous Environmental Network. “Tar sands is devastating First Nations communities in Canada already and now they want to bring that environmental, health, and social devastation to US tribes.” ...
“Natives in Canada live downstream from toxic tar sands mines,” said Earl Hatley, “and they are experiencing spikes in colon, liver, blood and rare bile-duct cancers which the Canadian government and oil companies simply ignore. And now they want to pipe these tar sands through the heart of Indian country, bulldozing grave sites and ripping out our heritage.”
The group points to a survey done by the Oklahoma Archeological Survey which found 88 archaeological sites and 34 historic structures that were threatened by Keystone XL. TransCanada was asked to reroute around only a small portion of these, leaving 71 archaeological sites and 22 historic structures at risk. The group says they have asked for a list of these sites and to oversee operations that might threaten sacred burial grounds, but neither request has been honored.
There are some photos and details of this event on an event facebook page.
It appears from the photos that the wire cage that the event organizers mentioned in their press release never materialized. What did materialize was a major police presence. It appears that the native group and other lefty protesters were given about one cop every six feet between them and the presidential motorcade and were kept back at some remove. Interestingly, the Tea Party showed up to protest as did people from the oil industry and they were allowed to line the main roads with very little police presence.
Here are a couple of shots grabbed from a set posted on facebook (linked from the event organizer's page):
Here's a link to the Americans for Prosperity Flickr stream and some photos from that set; note the disparity in attention from the authorities: