mark hertsgaard

Independent Journalist & Author

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White House Is Latest Target of Protestors

And the protests just keep on coming, don’t they? Yesterday it was the White House that got targeted: an estimated twelve thousand people surrounded the White House to urge President Obama to block the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

Here in San Francisco, I watched the live feed of the event on the tarsandsaction.org website and interviewed some of the protestors in real time as they chanted, “Stop The Pipeline, Yes We Can.” Their spirit and creativity was a sight to behold. Most impressive was the mock pipeline, at least 100 feet long, that protestors hoisted above their heads and carried through the crowd, emblazoned with the slogan, “Stop the XL Pipeline.”

And guess what? The White House protests generated lots of media coverage, including in mainstream outlets. I suspect there are two reasons for this. First, twelve thousand people is a lot of people, and surrounding the White House is a pretty neat trick; I can’t think of any other protest that has done that. Second, and at least as important: the White House action came after weeks of media coverage of Occupy movement actions in cities across the nation and around the world, so the media was primed. The media loves trends, and massive street protests against corporate skullduggery and its political enablers is beginning to be a trend.

There was ample sympathy and solidarity with the Occupy movement in the crowd surrounding the White House, including a massive sign reading, OCCUPY EARTH, and chants proclaiming, “We Are The 99 Percent.” I was slightly surprised that no one made a sign or chanted, “Occupy the White House,” though….

I’ll be publishing a piece trying to make sense of all this in the coming days. Meanwhile, here’s the best piece of spot news reporting about the White House protest I’ve seen, written by the excellent Elizabeth McGowan of Inside Climate News: http://insideclimatenews.org/news/20111107/largest-keystone-xl-protest-white-house-encircle-president-obama-transcanada-permit-state-department/.

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About Mark

Independent journalist Mark Hertsgaard is the author of seven books that have been translated into sixteen languages, including Bravehearts: Whistle Blowing in the Age of Snowden; HOT: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth; and A Day in the Life: The Music and Artistry of the Beatles. He has reported from twenty-five countries about politics, culture and the environment for leading outlets, including The Guardian, Der Spiegel, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Time, Mother Jones, NPR, the BBC and The Nation, where is the environment correspondent. He lives in San Francisco.

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