***This was posted on behalf of Caroline Wooten, a student organizer with the Chicago Youth Climate Coalition and a student at the University of Chicago***
Over 50 Chicagoans gathered outside the Obama Campaign’s Chicago Headquarters last Friday demanding that the President prevent the construction of the Tar Sands Keystone XL Pipeline. The demonstrators, a colorful mix of students, families, and individuals from Occupy Chicago, came bearing a petition against the Tar Sands signed by over 700 Illinois residents.
Ana Ahmeti, a sophomore at DePaul University, spoke before the crowd, explaining the purpose of the visit, “In 2008, Obama told Americans that under his leadership, our generation would be the one to free America from the tyranny of oil. We are here today to remind the President of his promise.”
The demonstration, like many of the countless Tar Sands actions that have happened throughout the country since August, emphasized the role that youth played in Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. One banner, held by students from Loyola University, read “Can you give our generation the audacity to hope? Stop the Keystone XL.”
The action also drew links between opposing the pipeline and standing up to corporate power. “Big banks have taken our homes,” stated Ahmeti. “Big oil wants to take the only home we know.”
Although representatives from the Obama campaign refused to meet with the entire group, they did speak with three representatives who presented the petitions on behalf of the demonstrators.
Marissa Lieberman Klein, a student at the University of Chicago, and one of the individuals who delivered the petition, said that in speaking with the campaign representatives, the group emphasized the work that citizens are doing in Chicago to move the city beyond fossil fuels. She explained, “We told them that here in Chicago, a lot of us have been working to clean up or retire the two coal plants in the city. We’re taking efforts to make our city—also Obama’s city—cleaner and healthier. We want Obama to do the same thing for our nation.”