For Immediate Release
Climate Justice Activists Protest and Occupy French Consulate in San Francisco
Activists occupy lobby calling on French government to lift ban on climate marches at U.N. climate talks, act on climate change.
SAN FRANCISCO–At 930am this morning, a group of eight Bay Area protesters entered the lobby of the French Consulate in San Francisco’s financial district to speak with the consular general. The demonstrators dressed in blue, covered their mouths with French flag tape to call attention to the repression of climate organizers during the ongoing United Nations Conference of Parties (COP) talks in Paris. Another 20 people rallied outside the consulate doors with signs and banners. The protest calls on the French government to lift a prohibition of public marches during the COP. The group called on the French government to stop the acceleration of global climate disruption by pushing for a strong international agreement to regulate carbon emissions.
Citing concerns about the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, on November 19 the French government announced a ban on public gatherings and protests, interrupting a Global Climate March planned for 29 November, at which 200,000 people from around the world were expected to march. A December 12th climate mobilization was banned as well. Under a veil of national security, French police wrongly placed 24 French climate organizers under house arrest and began turning back international activists at its borders. On November 29th, French police attacked peaceful protesters at the Place de Republique with tear gas, pepper spray and violently arrested over 200 people.
Protesters at today’s San Francisco action say that France’s heightened security rules endanger citizens’ ability to participate meaningfully in these international climate talks.
‘Many political leaders now acknowledge Climate Change presents a real security threat to the future of nations.” said protest organizer Lynn Stone, with local climate justice group Diablo Rising Tide. “Stifling free speech during the Paris climate talks is a tragic mistake. Paris should not fear and restrict climate justice protesters when the real threat is climate change.”
The talks in Paris come at a critical juncture in world history as more action is needed on climate as storms, floods and droughts increase in intensity each year. Despite the obstacles faced by protesters in Paris, an additional 700,000 people are estimated to have marched in cities throughout the world last weekend calling for heads of state and COP negotiators to rise to the occasion of the climate crisis. Over 50 major cities saw huge demonstrations.
In Oakland, on November 21st, over 5,000 marched for climate action after hearing the same call to action. Action oriented climate justice groups like Diablo Rising Tide have vowed to pressure corporate and political leaders on the issue of fossil fuel extraction, infrastructure and combustion in Northern California.
“As a coastal region and a hotbed of environmental innovation, these climate talks are especially relevant to life in the Bay Area,” said Scott Parkin, also with Diablo Rising Tide. “Numerous Bay Area organizations have sent representatives to Paris to join others from around the globe, and the recent crackdown prevents citizens here and around the world from making their voices heard.”
On September 28th, Diablo Rising Tide organized Flood Wall Street West which saw over 250 people march to the offices of Chevron, Wells Fargo and Bank of the West in San Francisco’s Financial District.. The mass civil disobedience shut down the corporate headquarters of Bank of the West for the day and led to the arrests of a dozen climate activists. Bank of the West is a subsidiary of French bank BNP-Paribas, a lead financier of the coal sector in France.
Diablo Rising Tide is the Bay Area chapter of Rising Tide North America network. Rising Tide is an all-volunteer climate network in Canada, the U.S., and Mexico who confront the root causes of climate change with protests and grassroots organizing.The larger Rising Tide network spans four continents and works with activists in North and South America, Europe, and Australia.