Ralph’s Arrested Development

Ralph Sklarew being arrested. Credit: tarsandsaction

We were told not to bring anything except our government issued photo ID, $110 (one hundred dollar bill and one ten dollar bill), water in a throw-away bottle and snacks as needed. No jewelry, not even a wedding ring! No body piercing studs. No hair pins. None of the normal wallets, belts, shoe laces. No coins. No cameras, no photos! No cell phones! No email, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, texting, sharing photos...life on hold! Retreat to the 20th century.

We were told to pee on arrival and wear an adult diaper. We wouldn’t be able to go again for 6 1/2 hours because we were volunteering to be arrested.

Arrested! Most of us were virgins. We’ve always stayed on the right side of the law. I was a Boy Scout in body and spirit and never lost it as I grew older through 50+ years. But now I was going to purposefully break a law and forevermore I will have an arrest record. And I didn’t even think the law I’d be breaking was very unjust. It was just a means to a statement.

How did this happen? I’ve been a closet, pragmatic environmentalist all my life. I’ve worked in the environmental field a few times in my career but those were “clean jobs.” I was just a scientist and I did computer simulations of air pollution and smog, of ocean oil spills, of wind power, of chemical spills and of nuclear fallout for governmental agencies and private companies.

Oh, I know about demonstrations. How could I not; I grew up in the ‘60s. Freedom rides evolved into Vietnam war protests. But I was on the sidelines. Talking was my only demonstrating. First it was in school right through to a PhD. Then marriage and family. Along the way I needed a security clearance--no problem for this grown-up Boy Scout.

Now retirement, grown “kids”...and grandchildren! How did they arrive almost instantly? No matter, they melt my heart instantly. Somehow they’re our children distilled, purified to the best moments.

With time I read. With the Internet I research and learn. I learned about global warming--a threat to my children and grandchildren, everyone’s children! I learned about making oil from tar sands--starting with strip mining and requiring much more energy (and thus CO2) to produce oil than other oil sources. It’s a greater threat to our grandchildren!

That’s how a senior is radicalized. That’s why I was arrested today. That’s why I now have an arrest record.

Check it out yourself. You too may want to get arrested or at least join the legal part of the demonstration. Start at www.TarSandsAction.org

For those in the Bay Area, on October 4th at 4:15pm the Tar Sands Action is holding an event at the Obama campaign headquarters in Oakland. Led by former campaign volunteers, we'll be visiting with a message from us: Persident Obama needs to stand up and reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, the group will converge on the office deliver a letter demanding Obama reject the pipeline.  Oakland efforts will be filmed, to use as a model for other similar actions happening across the country. ?Sign up or learn more!