Maryland state Sen. Paul Pinsky (D-Prince George’s) made good Friday on plans to be arrested in front of the White House where he was among an estimated 166 people locked up as part of a demonstration of civil disobedience against a planned oil pipeline.
After ordering the sidewalk cleared, U.S. Park Police began the slow, orderly process of arresting the scores of people who did not comply with the directive. But with so many people to handcuff, it was nearly two hours before Pinsky was actually lead away.
Pinsky and the other protesters were charged with failure to obey a lawful order, said Marcus Kryshka of the National Lawyers Guild, which is representing many of the protesters.
Officers were expected to process Pinsky and the other arrested protesters at U.S. Park Police station in Anacostia Park, where each would likely pay a $100 fine, Kryshka said.
Friday’s sit-in was the latest in a string of protests that began Aug. 20 against the TransCanada Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would stretch from Alberta to oil refineries in Texas. Opponents say the extraction of “tar sands” oil uses more resources than regular oil drilling, as well as being destructive to forests and bodies of water near the sites where the oil is harvested.
The U.S. State Department, which is in charge of handling the project permit, announced last week that they believe the project would not cause significant environmental damage.Pinsky said he disputes the government’s claim and thinks his constituents would be best served if President Obama killed the proposal.
“It doesn’t stop at our borders,” he said prior to his arrest. “This is the wrong direction. We should be moving ahead with clean energy … we have to get the word out.”
Pinsky, a staunchly liberal voice in the state senate, was the only legislator arrested Friday. But he brought along fellow state Sen. Jamin Raskin (D-Montgomery) for support. A number of protests for other causes sprang up around the periphery of the main event – as did a crowd that assembled around five-time presidential candidate and activist Ralph Nader.