Vice President's Daughter Karenna Gore Arrested in the Trenches of a Climate Protest

June 30, 2016


Karenna Gore

director of the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary. On Wednesday, she was arrested for protesting the West Roxbury pipeline being built by Spectra Energy. She is the daughter of former Vice President Al Gore.

We turn now to an act of civil disobedience on climate change in the West Roxbury neighborhood of Boston. On Wednesday, a dozen protesters with the group Resist the Pipeline were arrested for nonviolently lying down in a trench being dug by Spectra Energy for its pipeline. Several more were arrested for trespassing on private property. The action sought to draw a connection between pipelines like Spectra’s and a mass grave that was dug last month in Pakistan in preparation for a deadly heat wave. For more, we speak with Karenna Gore, director of the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We end today’s show in Boston, where Karenna Gore, the daughter of Vice President Al Gore, was arrested along with 22 others, including many clergy, while protesting the construction of a Spectra Energy pipeline in West Roxbury to carry fracked gas. Twelve of the protesters, including Gore, climbed inside the pipeline trench and refused to budge for almost two hours before being forcibly removed by firefighters. The protesters drew a comparison to the mass graves dug in Pakistan in anticipation of a climate-fueled heat wave in May. Climate activist Tim DeChristopher spoke before the action.

TIM DECHRISTOPHER: This new age that we are entering, this age of anticipatory mass graves, requires something new of us, requires that we no longer pretend that things are OK. It requires that we no longer act like we can just turn away from what’s happening in other places in the world. And it requires that we can no longer pretend like what Spectra is doing here in West Roxbury is anything other than digging a mass grave.

AMY GOODMAN: For more, we go to Boston, Massachusetts, where we’re joined by two guests who nonviolently occupied the pipeline and were arrested Wednesday. Yes, Karenna Gore is with us, director of the Center of Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary here in New York. And Tim DeChristopher joins us, climate activist, founder of the Climate Disobedience Center. He spent 21 months in federal custody for posing as a bidder in 2008 to prevent oil and gas drilling on thousands of acres of public land in his home state of Utah. He’s the subject of the documentary Bidder 70.

Karenna Gore and Tim DeChristoper, welcome to Democracy Now! Karenna, why were you arrested yesterday?

KARENNA GORE: I was very proud to be a part of a group that included a lot of local clergy here in the West Roxbury area, in the Boston area. And we were arrested because the laws and policies regarding climate change are so out of step with what is required to meet this challenge. And we wanted to, in the tradition of nonviolent civil disobedience, draw attention and call for what—to do the right thing.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain what this pipeline does, where it goes from, where it is headed to, and what’s supposed to be in it.

KARENNA GORE: Well, it will carry—it would carry fracked gas. And it is the lateral section of a Spectra pipeline that is part of the Spectra A-I-M—AIM—pipeline system. I was previously a part of an effort to stop the Constitution pipeline in New York state, and that was originally my entry point into learning more about these pipelines and where they’re going in all across the Eastern Seaboard.

AMY GOODMAN: You’ve been involved with other of these protests, Karenna?

KARENNA GORE: I have not been involved in nonviolent civil disobedience before now. I’m one of many people who is seeing a need to step up into that arena in that way.

AMY GOODMAN: And so, how did it feel to be arrested? And describe what exactly you did going into the trench yesterday in West Roxbury.

KARENNA GORE: Well, what we did was we went in, in a nonviolent and peaceful way, and the intention is to stop work on this pipeline. By the way, the city of Boston is litigating against this pipeline. This is an area where there is an overreach of federal power against the will of a local community. Every elected official in that neighborhood is against this pipeline. We were standing with the people who are objecting, not only because of climate change impacts, but also because of concern for their own communities. And so, what happened was we were asked whether or not we would walk out voluntarily, and several of us said, "No, we’re staying here because our intention is to stop construction of this pipeline." And at that point, when the firefighters arrived, we, of course, complied with what they needed to do to remove us from the trench.

AMY GOODMAN: You’re the director for the Center of Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary. What role did clergy play yesterday?

KARENNA GORE: The clergy there, including Rabbi Shoshana Feinberg—


KARENNA GORE: Friedberg.

TIM DECHRISTOPHER: Friedman, Friedman.

KARENNA GORE: Friedman, sorry—Reverend Mariama White-Hammond, well, many, actually, diverse clergy, they gave eulogies, drawing the connection—it’s really time, we feel, to connect the dots between our energy policies, our systems, building more fossil fuel infrastructure in this country, and the climate change impacts that are already here, that are hurting the most vulnerable people in the world. And so they gave those eulogies, making those points. Reverend Mariama White-Hammond said that this was a time to remember Reverend Martin Luther King and what he had to say when he entered into the debate to end the Vietnam war, the role that nonviolent civil disobedience played in the civil rights movement. There was a lot of invoking of right and wrong, what is moral here, and how can we, as very concerned citizens, exercise our voice.

AMY GOODMAN: Karenna Gore, what did your father say? In 2008, he said, "If you’re a young person looking at the future of this planet and looking at what is being done, and not done, I believe we have reached the stage where it is time for civil disobedience."

KARENNA GORE: Yes, he’s very supportive, not only of me, but of all of the activists that are putting their bodies on the line and saying that we really need to—we need to shake up the system. It’s not working. There are too many elected officials who take so much money from fossil fuel interests, and that’s why the laws and policies aren’t changing. So we have all the information we need. Now what we need to do is really press for action.

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