Why a Bra Makes a Good Purse in Times of Imminent Arrest: The Tar Sands Action


This week is one for the history books; including my very own personal IMG_9926history book! As of August 24, 2011, close to 300 people have been arrested in the largest civil disobedience action in the American environmental movement’s recent history. I am honored to say I am one of those people. Women and men from all walks and circles of life are “stepping up” and saying no to the XL Keystone Pipeline, which would carry Tar Sands oil from Alberta, Canada to Texas, crossing over and through environmentally fragile zones and important aquifers; threatening our land, our water, our wildlife, and our way of life.

So, you may ask, how does one prepare for an “imminent” arrest in Washington, DC? In my case, carefully and with much help from my friends! My experience with the TarSandsAction support team has been incredibly positive. Not only did they prepare me for what would happen, and be there to support me every step of the way, but they also introduced me to a group of caring individuals from all over the country who are now my friends and jail mates. (Not too many other individuals I know can fall into this particular friend category!) Many of these people, like me, are “middle age” (ouch!) and opening themselves up for arrest for the very first time. We Elders have found our cause and are taking our place along side students and young people who have been holding the “mantle” on environmental protests for us, by themselves, for long enough.

This new page in my personal history book begins at “civil disobedience training” the night before my arrest where we were told NOT to bring anything to the protest that we could NOT afford to loose, including cell phones and wedding rings. Do you know how hard it is to get a wedding ring off your finger that has been there for 15 years? We were also told to “dress dignified” like we were going to a business meeting. I had packed a skirt and top, neither of which had pockets, and didn’t think through how I would carry my ID and $100, the two items we were told TO take to jail – ID, so we could be properly booked, and $100 which was our “get out of jail” card. Our hope and best case scenario was that whatever our charge was, we would be given the opportunity to “post and forfeit” which would allow us to pay a fine and then leave jail that same day.

So, this is where a bra comes in handy, another useful piece of information from my TarSandsAction support colleagues. That morning as I dressed, I put my driver’s license, $120, and a metro card in my bra, which now effectively served as my purse! I did move these items to the waste band of my skirt just prior to my arrest and the handcuffs going on me, so that it would be easier for the arresting officer who frisked Harriet Shugarmanme to remove them. Yes I was frisked, in fact several times, and yes I had handcuffs on from the moment of my arrest until my release at the jail. I also road in a “paddy wagon” with a motorcycle escort through the streets of DC past the White House on the way to the Anacostia Jail. Many “firsts” for me to write down in MY personal history book. I am surprised to tell you that I wasn’t afraid. I was with more than 60 of my new “best friends” and we were all in it together, for the planet, for our children, and for ourselves.

President Obama, this is your call. Join Us. Stop the Pipeline! Be part of the movement at TarsSandsAction.org. The Action continues daily through September 3, 2011.

Credit for Both Photos from Flickr/Creative Common TarSandsAction

This entry was posted in Climate Mama News, In The News, Politics, Renewable Energy, Take a Stand: Action & Advocacy and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Why a Bra Makes a Good Purse in Times of Imminent Arrest: The Tar Sands Action

  1. Harriet, you are definitely raising awareness! Wow – what a post and what a mug shot! Definitely one of the most beautiful mug shots I’ve ever seen! I was so glad that I was able to see you at the protest! Go @GreenMoms! Go @ClimateMama! What a story!

    • Harriet says:

      So glad you were at the protest! Was empowering to hear “Go Green Moms”..we can accomplish so much and I believe together we CAN make the world a better place..Thank you for all you do too Lynn!!

  2. Beth Terry says:

    Harriet, we are all so proud of you. Thanks for stepping up. Even though you were with friends, it must have still been scary.

    • Harriet says:

      Thanks Beth..You and everyone at the Green Moms Carnival step up everyday, each in her own way. MyPlasticFreeLife.com has taught me so much about our addiction to plastics, which are by products of oil and which help perpetuate our oil dependence. Getting arrested was a little scary, somewhat surreal, but not as scary as I imagined. The police as well were respectful and allowed us to maintain our dignity.

  3. Green Bean says:

    So inspired by what you’ve done! Sharing.

    • Harriet says:

      Thanks..I was inspired too by all those around me. The Action continues @tarsandsaction -neither earthquakes nor hurricanes seem to be able to slow it down!

  4. Hey Climate Mama – Great to meet you and go to jail with you this week! Keep up the good fight, and let me know the next time you’re sitting in somewhere!

    • Harriet says:

      Great to meet you too! Thanks for all you do, look forward to being in touch..funny parting on Tuesday, hope you got where you needed to go with relative ease!

  5. Sally G says:

    Harriet, we drove together to protest/lobby in Trenton (environment and public- collective bargaining); I now follow in your footsteps to Washington; I will be sitting in on Friday, there for closing rally on Saturday (hopefully sprung, not watching from jail). Your words are reassuring; as it gets closer, I get nervous (also first arrest), but I can do it!
    Thanks for the tip about pockets (bra “burnt” long ago)!

    • Harriet says:

      Go Sally!! You will be in the company of many amazing individuals, and I know you won’t be afraid. Thanks for standing up for our children’s future and ours! Give the TarSands Action folks a big hello from me! See you at Dr. Hansen’s talk in Paramus in September?!

  6. Mary says:

    Thank goodness for your newsletter, I missed this earlier. Harriet, I’m so proud of you for taking a stand and helping the rest of us know how to “pack” for our own stand-taking occasions.

  7. Can I just say it’s a huge relief to find someone who definately knows what they’re talking about on the internet. You seem to know how to bring an issue up and make it understood. More peeps should read your blog and understand this stuff.

  8. mal says:

    sounds terrible.How long were you handcuffed. Were they steel cuffs or those plastic ties ?

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