Forty-eight activists blocked a main thoroughfare in front of the White House and refused to move when asked by police. Tidwell and some of the other participants then handcuffed themselves to the White House fence. All of the participants were then arrested and transported to Anacostia for processing by the US Park Police Department.
Tidwell took part in the civil disobedience along with Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club; Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org; Julian Bond, former president of the NAACP; Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr., president of the Hip Hop Caucus, Nebraska rancher Randy Thompson; and other notable national and community leaders.
Go to www.tarsandsaction.org for the full list of participants and their statements.
Tidwell released the following statement upon his peaceful arrest:
"I joined 48 noted American leaders today – including civil rights legend Julian Bond and 350.org founder Bill McKibben – in civil disobedience by handcuffing myself to the White House fence. I took this extraordinary action to dramatize my opposition to the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, a project so harmful it demands extraordinary opposition. With all my being – my mind, my heart, my soul, and now my suspended freedom – I urge President Obama to reject this pipeline in favor of real solutions to the climate crisis.
"I joined this action because 2012 was the hottest year on record in America, half the country is in drought, and we just flooded New York City with a storm for the history books. Wherever we look, wherever we go, the weather is too hot, too wet, too dry, too cold. Our very civilization is at risk from rapid climate change, driven by the heedless combustion of fossil fuels.
"The Chesapeake region is particularly vulnerable. Coastal communities in Virginia and Maryland face some of the fastest rates of sea-level rise in the U.S., and a future of ever-more powerful superstorms like Sandy. Regularly flooded homes and shops in places like Norfolk only foreshadow much worse to come – unless political leaders, chief among them President Obama, come down firmly on the side of our welfare over that of the fossil fuel industry. Simply put, the tar sands pipeline would tap the worst possible energy resource at the worst possible moment for our society.
"I also broke the law today – peacefully -- because of a child. My child. Sasha Tidwell is the best curveball-throwing, skateboard-riding, drum-playing, and full-hearted person I have ever known. He is 15. I cannot bear how innocent he is.
"President Obama, you said in your inaugural address: 'We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.'
"Mr. President: my son knows – as do your children, and all children – that you cannot solve the climate crisis while also building the Keystone XL pipeline. These two things do not go together. What our children need is energy from the sun and the wind, from ocean tides and from other clean, sustainable sources. What our children need is for you to make the right decision now: Reject the pipeline. Choose the better, life-giving path."