“We’re going in”: activists successfully blockade key intersections in downtown DC to demand action on the climate crisis

cross-posted from ShutdownDC

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: SEPTEMBER 23


Facebook: facebook.com/StrikeDC/
Twitter: @shutdown_dc
Instagram: shutdowndc923

Please find footage and photographs here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1iK0LO2p3L4tCpizgImKueb9HBLdzHTDr 

“We’re going in”: activists successfully blockade key intersections in downtown DC to demand action on the climate crisis

Washington D.C., Sept 23 – As many as 2,000 people seized key intersections across Washington D.C. on Monday morning, significantly disrupting business-as-usual in the U.S. capital to demand an immediate end to the age of fossil fuels, and a swift and just transition to renewable energy. The Coalition has decided to return to the streets on September 27, the last day of the Global Climate Strike.

A broad coalition of climate and social justice groups fanned out across downtown D.C. to seize 22 intersections over the course of the morning, blocking traffic during rush hour.  At one blockade, activists hauled a pink and yellow yacht into the middle of the street and chained themselves to it. Others locked themselves to tall step ladders. Some groups barricaded roads with an 80-foot long inflatable oil pipeline; others with 30-foot ladders and an enormous replica of fire extinguisher. With some dressed as dinosaurs and polar bears, many danced in the streets with college students, nurses and passersby joining in, chanting, “We demand a green new deal,” and “Our house is on fire, put the fire out.”

Black Lives Matter and healthcare workers fighting for climate justice set up a free blood pressure clinic in the middle of the road. “We know that climate injustice and environmental racism are fueled by the same systems of white supremacy, capitalism, imperialism, patriarchy and colonialism from which we seek to liberate Black people,” said Nee Nee Taylor, Direct Action Coordinator with Black Lives Matter DMV. “We know that Black people in DC, Black people in this country, and Black people across the diaspora will continue to be the most impacted by climate disaster.”

The group Rising Tide North America blocked roads by locking themselves to a car and an 80’s conversion van. A labor rights and Democratic Socialists of America group shut down the intersections around Amazon’s DC headquarters, and a Migrant Justice group did the same at the headquarters of ICE. Werk for Peace, a queer and trans grassroots movement, blasted biodegradable confetti outside the offices of Wells Fargo and the American Petroleum Institute while jiving to “hot beats”.

“Climate change is a public health emergency. It affects the health of all of us, but most especially our disenfranchised communities. We must invest in the health of frontline communities now and in the future to protect against the worst of what climate change will bring,” said Katie Donnelly, a doctor manning the blood pressure clinic.

Police arrested 32 people, including 26 college students, before releasing them later in the day. Officers moved in at around 700AM. They towed a van for seven blocks with two activists still chained to the roof, putting their lives in danger.

One of the activists locked to the roof of the van, Daniel Dixon, said: “After I locked myself to the van, the police violently shoved away our support team, attached the van to a tow truck, and drove away with zero regard for our physical safety. As the police were towing us down Independence Avenue, I yelled ‘no stolen oil from stolen land,’ ‘respect Indigenous sovereignty,’ and ‘honor the treaties’.”

At the yacht, police formed a perimeter and blocked people from approaching the vessel. They cut through the chains that activists had used to lock themselves to the boat. It took officers nearly three hours to remove the yacht from the street. Capitol Police dismantled the health clinic erected by Black Lives Matter and a group of healthcare workers within 20 minutes of their arrival and then arrested six people sitting in the road.

“I couldn’t believe it – they carried a sailboat out and set it in the middle of K Street.  It was actually pretty cool. It certainly made my drive more interesting,” said one driver.

#ShutDownDC builds on the recent surge of student-led climate strikes and mass protests that have rattled politicians around the world. The blockade of the U.S. capital is also timed to coincide with the start on Monday of the UN Climate Action Summit in New York.

The coalition’s demands include a Green New Deal that brings about a swift and just transition to 100% renewable energy. It also wants governments to protect at least 50% of the world’s lands and oceans, and to halt deforestation by 2030. The coalition is also calling for climate justice for everyone. The transition to a clean future must boost rather than further harm communities hit by poverty and pollution.

THE COALITION: 198 Methods, 350 DC, Backbone Campaign, Beyond Extreme Energy, Black Lives Matter DMV, Chesapeake Climate Action Network Action Fund, Code Pink, Extinction Rebellion DC, Friends of the Earth Action, Friends Meeting in Washington Social Concerns Committee, Labor Network for Sustainability, Metro DMV Democratic Socialists of America, Movement for a People’s Party, Rising Tide North America, Sunrise Movement DC, and Werk for Peace

For footage and photographs please see here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1iK0LO2p3L4tCpizgImKueb9HBLdzHTDr

Please direct any media enquiries to:

Spokesperson Kaela Bamberger: +1 (518) 847-5341 or kaelabamberger@gmail.com

Press officer Miles Amoore: +1 (202) 867-6080 or milesamoore@gmail.com

Visit https://www.strikedc.org/ for more information and for press updates and previous announcements see https://www.strikedc.org/index.php/press/

FAQ https://www.strikedc.org/index.php/faq/

WaPo: 32 arrested as ‘climate rebels’ shut down intersections across the District

September 23, 2019

Climate change protesters shut down several intersections from Capitol Hill to downtown Washington during Monday’s morning rush, the latest of rallies around the world designed to force policymakers to respond to Earth’s rising temperatures.

D.C. police said they arrested 26 protesters across the city for blocking traffic, while Capitol Police arrested six others near the U.S. Capitol. Authorities noted 15 locations that were blocked at various times, forcing motorists to navigate blockades at some of the city’s busiest intersections as the workweek began.

Shut Down DC organizers urged “climate rebels” to flood the District’s streets to bring “the whole city to a gridlocked standstill,” according to the group’s website. Sites were chosen for traffic volume and also their proximity to the offices of “climate criminals,” organizers said, such as petroleum companies or lobbyists for the oil and gas industry.

The protest comes after youth-led protests in more than 150 countries Friday ahead of a United Nations climate summit Monday, where policymakers were urged to aggressively take up climate change.

Protesters shut down parts of K Street, Dupont Circle and Connecticut Avenue, as well as 4th Street and New York Avenue NW — forcing police to divert traffic at the 3rd Street Tunnel. Kaela Bamberger, a spokeswoman for the Coalition to Shut Down D.C., said the protest is an escalation in tactics to draw attention to a warming planet.

“I think that we were very successful in holding the majority of the blockades people had planned,” Bamberger said. “We significantly impeded traffic in some of the main areas we were in for about three hours.”

Transportation officials had warned commuters last week to allow extra time and expect delays on their normal routes. Commuters also were advised to try other modes, including biking or taking Metro — or the best bet, transportation experts suggested, might be telework.

Shut Down DC organizers said protesters had set up blockades at 22 District locations at various times.

Protesters chained themselves to a boat to block the intersection of 16th and K streets NW in downtown Washington, three blocks north of the White House grounds. D.C. police used power tools to cut the bonds, covering protesters with riot shields and fire blankets as sparks flew.

Waiting to be cut from the boat, a 22-year-old protester who identified himself only as George as he risked arrest shouted to a reporter outside the police cordon that he had chained himself to the boat around 7 a.m. and wasn’t sure when he would be cut free. He said the action was necessary to bring attention to the “climate crisis.”

“I’m doing something that’s right, moral and just,” he said. “I’m doing this so I can look my kids in the eye one day.”

Jeffrey Johnson watched as a protester was being cut from the boat at around 8:20 a.m. The protest hadn’t disrupted his commute — he’s an “early bird,” he said, starting work around 6 a.m. at a high-end downtown hotel.

“I don’t even know what the message is,” he said. “They need to get some signs up.”

But Johnson appeared broadly supportive of any critique of the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

“They’re protesting in the wrong place,” he said. “It should be two blocks up where that knucklehead is at.”

Other commuters seemed to take the delays in stride.

Sitting in a car at 16th and L streets NW, Jackie Hilliard tried to remain philosophical about her delayed commute.

She had been “detoured,” she said, circling through downtown after a failed attempt to make a right on Rhode Island Avenue on the way to her job at a law firm. The net effect on her commute wouldn’t be that bad — an 11-minute delay — but she didn’t like being late.

She also didn’t want to get too distraught about it.

“I don’t care,” she said. “It is what it is. There’s no use getting upset over something I have no control over.”

At least one D.C. school opened later Monday because of the expected gridlock. Basis DC, a downtown charter middle and high school, informed families Friday that the school would open two hours late because of possible delays stemming from the protest.

By 7 a.m. Monday, health-care workers and other activists had gathered at Folger Park on Capitol Hill. They marched toward Independence and Washington avenues in Southwest, intermittently blocking traffic. After being pushed back by police onto the sidewalk, they set up a tent outside the Department of Health and Human Services, where nurses and physicians conducted high blood pressure and glucose screenings for a few passersby. The tents were taken down by 9:30 a.m.

Southeast D.C. resident Jerry Griffin was on his way to work downtown when he got caught in the traffic mess. After getting stuck at Independence and Washington avenues in Southwest, followed by further delays elsewhere, Griffin said he missed an 8:30 a.m. meeting and decided to drive back home.

While Griffin said he agreed with protesters that action is needed on climate change, he didn’t like the disruption to Washington’s already-messy traffic. He said protesters were inconveniencing “the everyman” rather than those in positions of power.

“Do I approve of efforts to address climate change? Yes,” Griffin said. “Do I approve of a sit-in on a main thoroughfare during rush hour on Monday? People can be terminated because of this — not so much.”

Not everyone was as frustrated.

Don Smith, a small-business owner in the District, texted clients to apologize for missing a meeting. Even though it affected his work, he said he was glad the strike occurred.

“I’m inconvenienced, but I’m all for it,” he said. “Civil unrest is how this country was founded. As an American, I’m proud of them.”

As the crowd marched down 2nd Street NE toward Independence Avenue, their voices rang loudly in the empty streets. Some bleary-eyed townhouse residents peered out from their windows; several passing joggers cheered them on.

“The house is on fire!” the group chanted. “Put the fire out!”

A D.C. police spokeswoman said no specific street closures were planned ahead of the protests, but rolling closures occurred where protesters showed up. Authorities on Monday didn’t respond to questions about police procedures during the event.

One Lyft driver named Jude, who didn’t want to give his last name because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly, said Monday he had no idea about the protests.

“I haven’t gotten an alert on my phone or anything,” he said at 8 a.m. as he drove south from Petworth. “But I’ve also been paying less attention to the news.”

He said he wasn’t worried about hitting roadblocks from demonstrations and would call passengers who might be waiting for him to inform them of delays. During a recent Women’s March demonstration, Jude said, he suffered five cancellations from passengers who waited 20 minutes or longer for a ride.

While he hates lost business, he said, he also saw opportunity. The Women’s March provided some of his best fares, the result of the upcharge Lyft instituted because of demand, he said.

Motorists who began the week with citywide protests could end the week in similar fashion.

Bamberger said activists decided Monday afternoon to return to District streets Friday — the final day of coordinated climate change strikes worldwide. Specific protest sites haven’t been selected, but she called Monday’s demonstation “a huge success.”

“I might remind the disgruntled drivers that we are responding to the youth call for action on climate change,” she said. “Their futures are at stake.”

BREAKING: Chase Bank Branch in Chicago Shut Down for Being the #1 Funder of the Climate Crisis, Part of International Week of Climate Action

Pic via Rising Tide Chicago

Chase Bank Branch at 150 N Michigan Shut Down for Being the #1 Funder of the Climate Crisis, Part of International Week of Climate Action

Media Contact: Colin Crowley

217-720-9803, jccrowley@gmail.com

CHICAGO, IL –A Chase Bank branch at 150 N Michigan in downtown Chicago was shut down when three people locked to one another and refused to leave the bank. This action was taken because Chase Bank has increased its investments in fossil fuels since the Paris Climate Accord, and because scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have issued a report stating that we have just 11 years to stop using fossil fuels and pull back from the brink of the climate crisis.

This direct action is part of a week of international climate action from Sept. 20-27 in which youth are striking for climate and asking adults and decision makers to join them in protest and to take swift and bold action to address the climate crisis.

The Chicago protest organized by Rising Tide Chicago included concerned Chicagoans outside the bank supporting those inside by chanting, holding signs and banners and passing out information to passersby. Organizers of the event highlighted Chase’s role as the number one funder of fossil fuels, how the bank has doubled down on financing fossil fuels in the past three years, and the bank’s role in funding new fossil fuel infrastructure projects like Line 3 in Minnesota and deforesting of the Amazon Rainforest, both of which threaten the traditional way of life of Indigenous people.

“Direct action is currently needed to interrupt the climate crisis we are facing,” said Colin Crowley, one of the participants in the protest. “The science is clear about what we need to do in the next 10 years to provide a liveable earth for current and future generations, yet Chase Bank continues to prioritize profits over people and planet by continuing to funnel billions of dollars into the fossil fuel industry.”

Rising Tide Chicago is a local group that is part of a global grassroots network that uses education and direct action to address the root causes of climate change. Rising Tide Chicago is working with other groups across the U.S. to pressure Chase Bank CEO Jaime Dimon to divest from tar sands oil immediately, respect the rights of Indigenous groups and fully divest from fossil fuels within ten years.

###

 

NY Times: Climate Activists Hope to Bring U.S. Capital to Standstill on September 23

By

September 11, 2019

WASHINGTON — Environmental groups, including Extinction Rebellion, said on Wednesday they plan to shut down traffic in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 23 and bring daily life to a standstill to demand action by U.S. politicians on tackling climate change.

The roughly 15 groups planning the protest include traditional environmental groups like 350 DC and Friends of the Earth Action, as well as groups that focus on other issues, such as Black Lives Matter and Code Pink, a women-led group promoting peace and human rights.

Kaela Bamberger, an activist aligned with Extinction Rebellion DC, said the coalition plans to ratchet up pressure on policymakers by shutting down traffic at major intersections because rallies, marches and petitions have not worked.

“This is definitely a next-level action. The urgency of climate change warrants such an attempt to disrupt business as usual… to make it impossible for people with decision-making power to go about their daily lives as if we are not in the climate emergency,” Bamberger said in an interview.

The protest is also timed to draw attention to a global climate strike on Sept. 20 and a U.N. climate summit on Sept. 23.

Employees of large U.S. companies are also participating in the strike. About 1,000 Amazon workers will walk out that day, a group called Amazon Employees for Climate Justice said in a piece on Medium.

Thousands of supporters of the Extinction Rebellion climate activist group occupied four sites in London in April and stopped trains in one of the largest civil disobedience campaigns there in decades. London police said the group will not be allowed to repeat https://af.reuters.com/article/commoditiesNews/idAFL8N24J3XI that kind of disruption when they hold demonstrations in October.

Heathrow Pause, a splinter group of Extinction Rebellion, plans to disrupt London’s Heathrow airport on Friday by flying drones within a restricted zone. The group plans to fly drones no higher than head level and give the airport one hour’s advance notice. The airport has said the plan is illegal but that it had plans to make sure it can continue to operate.

Alaina Gertz, a spokeswoman for the DC Metropolitan Police Department, said it was aware of an environmental protest scheduled on Sept. 23 and that it is “equipped to handle any-sized First Amendment demonstration.”

The U.S. Secret Service did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the protest.

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; additional reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Dan Grebler)