Guest post by Tabitha Skervin, one of the 9 arrested at the Capitol April 15 at the “Citizens Filibuster“
Late Wednesday night, after our last final, Jordan and I drove out to DC to make our court date Thursday morning. The commute is a hard one and my little PT Cruiser wasn’t much help, but we’ve sort have become pros at it- after all, we did the same exact thing a few weeks back when we decided to disrupt the House with a song. Thursday night, April 14th we headed out to DC to meet up with youth activists from all around the country who were ready to take a risk to inspire the 10,000 students attending Powershift that weekend. We sang an alternative version of the Star Spangled Banner, one that called for our congressmen to start standing up for our future- our right to clean air, water, and food- not big oil, gas, and coal. Disrupting congress is an arrestable action, something that we knew going in. But even though we were arrested and stayed in jail for over 6hrs, we had accomplished our goal. That Monday, hundreds of activists stormed the Department of the Interior and stayed despite the threat of arrest. 21 stayed for arrest even after being threatened with felony charges.
This past week, the nine of us who were arrested that friday all had to come back to DC for our arraignment. For some of us, that meant flying in from Utah, long train or bus rides from Massachusetts, Maine, etc. For Jordan and I it meant pulling another all-nighter to drive in from Michigan. At 8am, Thursday morning, we met with our lawyers and we ended the day with a drug test at around 3pm. This is the not-so-sexy side of civil disobedience, the part where sacrifice starts to kick in and we are forced to face financial, personal, and professional consequences for our action. But at the same time, these past couple of days have been the most encouraging for me.
I see the beginning of a culture within our movement that is willing to support those who decide to take action even at the expense of their own future. I am beginning to see a movement with people that can find it in their hearts to give the little that they have to support those who they can call allies. I’m beginning to see a movement that is becoming financially independent, and with financial independence comes true mobility. Is the movement strong enough to support one another? Is it capable of making things like money less of a concern when taking action? I think it is.
Going to court on Thursday wasn’t a walk in the park. I saw too many of my less fortunate black brothers and sisters in that room and too many people there for minor drug charges. The failure of our court system was hard to ignore- the true victims of our unjust society were criminalized while the true criminals were no where to be found. Yet there was still hope because in the middle of this scene was a row of individuals who were crazy enough to think that they could take on this institution…and there are hundreds who were starting to stand behind them and their action.
Even though Thursday I was surrounded by those who force their laws on us, It also wasn’t scary, nerve racking, or daunting- it was liberating. I am not alone. I have countless of people- some I don’t even know personally- who are there to back me up. I want to see more of those seats filled with activists standing up for what is right. I want them to feel the same sense of relief that, despite the outcome, there is a whole movement of like minded individuals ready to bring about support in any way that they can- whether it be with time, money, or just encouragement. I believe the nine of us and the 21 who got arrested in the department of Interior are continuing to play a part in inspiring others to join us in tactful civil disobedience. A movement that has learned how to sacrifice individually and for one another is powerful. It’s a force to be reckoned with!