Climate activists plan Washington DC protest to ‘disrupt workings of power
Local groups join together for an event that seeks to shut down traffic on 23 September, during the UN Climate Action Summit
Climate activists will escalate their protests next month in Washington DC, seeking to shut down traffic with blockades at key intersections to bring attention to the intensifying crisis.
Several local groups are planning the action for 23 September, as youth leaders call for a global strike and a week of action. Hundreds of events are planned, with more than 100 of them in the US, organizers said.
Patrick Young, a 35-year-old who works with the group Rising Tide called the protest “a big ambitious plan to disrupt business as usual”.
“The level of frustration with the inaction of political leaders and corporations on the climate crisis is just really boiling over,” Young said.
Rising Tide North America is joining other local organizers with Extinction Rebellion DC, 350 DC, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Friends Meeting of Washington’s Social Concerns Committee, Movement for a People’s Party and Code Pink.
A call-to-action document for Shut Down DC highlights worsening superstorms, floods, droughts, and wildfires, and notes that they unevenly hurt people with low incomes and people of color.
“We do not take this action lightly. We know that this shutdown will cause massive disruption to people who bear little responsibility for the climate catastrophe we are facing. But we will also cause massive disruption for politicians, huge corporations and the lobbyists who control our government,” the groups say.
Extinction Rebellion in July glued themselves to doorways to attempt to block lawmakers from entering the US capitol building.
Sean Haskett, a 24-year-old who protests with the youth-led Sunrise Movement, said he was most inspired by the UN report warning the world has 11 years to take significant steps required to avoid climate catastrophe.
Haskett said protestors want to “disrupt the workings of power”.
“There’s a tremendous amount of power that drives through those streets and parks next to those sidewalks and walks into those buildings,” he said. “We want them to think about what they’re doing with that power.”
Organizers say the Shut Down DC day is attracting people they’ve never seen protest.
Amanda Trebach, who worked for a clean energy company before going to nursing school, is recruiting other health professionals to join her through her union, National Nurses United.
She is a 33-year-old stroke and neurology nurse at Medstar Washington Hospital Center, where she says she sees an uptick in heat-related illnesses. On a recent day in Baltimore, she said she saw a man die of what appeared to be heat stroke while he was waiting for an ambulance.
She said her coworkers have been talking about the news of fires burning down the forests in the Amazon in Brazil.
“The crisis is just escalating so quickly – people are talking about it more so people are more open to doing things like this,” Trebach said. “Things need to change, and things need to change so quickly that we can’t have business as usual.”
Water Protectors Lock to Enbridge Office Gates, Work Halted
Bemidji, MN — In the early morning, 6 water protectors locked to the gates of a key Enbridge office in Bemidji, MN in protest of proposed tar sands pipeline project Line 3. 2 chained their necks to the gate, risking personal safety for the hundreds of watersheds Enbridge proposes to send nearly 1M barrels of tar sands from Alberta through on its way to the shores of Lake Superior.
Enbridge responded by closing its office for the day.
Wild rice season is nearing, in which Anishinaabe people will take to their canoes to harvest the sacred food that is at the heart of Anishinaabe culture. Enbridge plans to send tar sands through dozens of wild rice watersheds, irrevocably impacting its growth and survival.
Line 3 is one proposed infrastructure project out of the Alberta tar sands, alongside TransCanada’s Keystone XL and Kinder Morgan’s TransMountain pipelines. Tar sands is the dirtiest fossil fuel in the world. Weeks ago, the Teck Frontier Mine, a proposed tar sands expansion twice the size of Vancouver was recommended by a board of Canadian environmental regulators.
“As an able-bodied and willing person, it is my duty to stand with Anishinaabe people who are putting their lives on the line every day standing up for all of us, for all of our water.” Kieran Cuddy said, while locked to the front gate of Enbridge’s office.
Diablo Rising Tide (DiRT) is excited to for the Global Climate Strike in September. We’re partnering with Idle No More SF Bay, Extinction Rebellion San Francisco Bay, the Society of Fearless Grandmothers, the 1000 Grandmothers and others to call for actions during the week of September 23rd through September 27th.
Through this process, we’re encouraging the creation of “affinity groups” to organize and take collective action against the climate profiteers and the politicians that love them.
To learn more about the long powerful tradition of affinity groups in challenging the root causes of so many ills in our world, we put together this helpful guide on them.
Please check it out. Form an affinity group with your friends and get involved.
AFFINITY GROUPS & ACTION SUPPORT
German climate action group, Ende Gelaende, used affinity groups to shut down this massive open pit coal mine.
What is an Affinity Group?
An affinity group is a small group of 5 to 20 people who work together autonomously on direct actions or other projects. You can form an affinity group with your friends, people from your community, workplace, or organization. If you are planning to do civil disobedience, it is a good idea to either form an affinity group or join an already existing one. Affinity groups serve as a source of support and solidarity for their members. Feelings of being isolated or alienated from the movement, the crowd, or the world in general can be alleviated through the familiarity and trust which develops when an affinity group works and acts together. By generating this familiarity, the affinity group structure reduces the possibility of infiltration by outside provocateurs. However, participants in an action should be prepared to be separated from their affinity group. Affinity groups form the basic decision-making bodies of mass actions. As long as they remain within the action guidelines, affinity groups are generally encouraged to develop any form of participation they choose.
Affinity groups challenge top-down decision-making and organizing, and empower those involved to take creative direct action. Affinity groups allow people to “be” the action they want to see by giving complete freedom and decision-making power to the affinity group. They generally use consensus decision-making. Affinity groups by nature are decentralized and non-hierarchical, two important principles of anarchist organizing and action. The affinity group model was first used by anarchists in Spain in the late 19th and early 20th century, and was re-introduced to radical direct action by anti-nuclear activists during the 1970s, who used decentralized non-violent direct action to blockade roads, occupy spaces and disrupt “business as usual” for the nuclear and war makers of the US. Affinity groups have been used by AIDS activists, solidarity movemenst, lesbian/gay liberation movement, the global justice movement, and many others who use non-hierarchical structures and consensus decision making in direct action and organizing.
What is a Cluster and a Spokescouncil?
A cluster is a grouping of affinity groups that come together to work on a certain task or part of a larger action. Thus, a cluster might be responsible for blockading an area, organizing one day of a multi-day action, or putting together and performing a mass street theater performance. Clusters could be organized around where affinity groups are from (example: Texas cluster), an issue or identity (examples: student cluster or anti-sweatshop cluster), or action interest (examples: street theater or [black bloc]).
A spokescouncil is the larger organizing structure used in the affinity group model to coordinate a mass action. Each affinity group (or cluster) empowers a spoke (representative) to go to a spokescouncil meeting to decide on important issues for the action. For instance, affinity groups need to decide on a legal/jail strategy, possible tactical issues, meeting places, and many other logistics. A spokescouncil does not take away an individual affinity group’s autonomy within an action; affinity groups make their own decisions about what they want to do on the streets. Spokes are empowered to communicate the decisions of their affinity group, and if issues arise that have not been discussed or consensed-upon, spokes go back to their affinity groups to reach consensus first together, then return to the spokescouncil
Roles Within the Affinity Group (These roles are typically rotated)
– Facilitator(s), vibes-watchers, timekeepers for meetings.
– Spokesperson to convey affinity group (A.G.) decisions to core support, in spokescouncils, and other A.G.’s in a mass action.
– Support person(s)- once you take on this responsibility for an action, you should see it through.
For all direct actions and demonstrations, it is crucial to have designated people in support roles. For direct action and civil disobedience, support people are needed by those risking arrest. In actions where no one is planning on risking arrest, support roles are also important to think out in advance, both for taking on necessary tasks during legal actions, and to prepare for the contingency of unexpected arrests. Whether you are organized into an affinity group, action squad, bloc, or just a busload of people from the same town, certain people should commit to staying out of the center of action so as to support others taking more risk. It is helpful to have a team of people share this responsibility.
Support roles for demonstrations include:
Scouts: scope out other areas, rumors, and situations and report information back to the group.
Tactical team: a couple of trusted group members who can think quickly in the face of changing scenarios and make recommendations for group to act.
Communications: someone with 2-way radio, cell phone, &/or bike that can communicate with other groups within action and help coordinate.
Medics: have first aid kit and know how to use it.
Legal observers: will pay close attention to details useful for legal defense later.
De-escalators: people good at defusing problems with police or others.
Traffic: people who are empowered to stop cars at intersections and in general watch out for the safety of people on the streets from cars and other vehicles.
Arrest support people should:
BEFORE AN ACTION
Know everyone in the group by name, description, and if used, by alias.
Have written down pertinent information for each member on needs in case of arrest: medical needs, phone number, who to contact & when, and any other home support needs such as pet care.
Have all this information, ID’s if group intends to practice jail solidarity, keys, money, and other belongings stored at a remote location from the action.
Know where arrestees are likely to be taken and have transportation to get there.
Give your contact & back-up information to each group member
Know the phone numbers for legal, medics, media, and action support.
DURING AN ACTION
Give any emergency information about yourself to another support person
Meet and recheck plans and needs with group
Have pens and paper to take legal observation notes
Once the first person in your group is arrested, one support person should follow them, and another support person should stay near group until all are arrested.
Once all have been arrested or are out of risk, call legal and give information.
Go to processing facilities and attempt to find out if your people are all there.
Be visible to police so they know the arrestees are not alone.
Try to find out what the charges are.
Make calls you have been asked to make in the case of arrest.
Try to find out emotional and physical states of those inside, whether they are non-cooperating and to what extent, if they want a lawyer, and liaise with legal team.
Help hold vigil outside of jail until all are released. Have food for self and those released available.
Attend court proceedings and keep track of all that happens.
Yesterday, two pipeline fighters locked themselves to construction equipment at a Mountain Valley Pipeline work site in Franklin County, VA, preventing work at the site. The banners read, “EARTH IS ON FIRE, TURN OFF THE GAS” and “¡SOLIDARIDAD CON PUERTO RICO!”
When asked why he’s taking action, Cricket, one of the people locked to equipment today, said, “Lots of things bring us here, I think. Speaking for myself, I’m currently going to school for integrated science education, which means my long term life plan is to become a science teacher. Hopefully my blossoming legal record after this doesn’t mess that up for me, but those goals stem from wanting to empower and support the wellbeing of future generations. Those commitments that call me to education are the same commitments that being me here, trying to protect the earth from another pipeline that will contribute to the mass extinction we’re going through right now.
“Unless we can stop climate chaos, the students I teach won’t have a planet to learn about, or potable water to drink, or even clean air to breathe, for that matter. So no matter what happens after this, I know I’m doing something that I will be proud to explain for the rest of my life. Clove and I are expressing care for the future.”
Clove, the other person locked on site, stated the following in reference to the “¡SOLIDARIDAD CON PUERTO RICO!” banner: “One indicator of climate destabilization is the increasing severity of hurricanes. In 2017, Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico as well as other surrounding places. After the hurricane, most of the disaster relief came from the people first impacted. This shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone — the first responders are always those first impacted — and it also shouldn’t come as a surprise that the government turned their noses up at the people struggling to keep themselves and their communities alive in the wake of that disaster.
“Since that hurricane, we’ve seen communities take care of each other in ways the government won’t, and now more than ever we’re seeing people take that power and use it to reject that government all together. We want to show love and support to the folks in Puerto Rico that are fighting for autonomy in their lives after a disaster, on a planet that’s only going to have more disasters in the near future.”
Clove and Cricket prevented Mountain Valley Pipeline work at the Franklin County site for 6.5 hours! They were then extracted from their blockade and arrested. One friend was charged with 2 misdemeanors and released on $1,500 bail. The other was arraigned but is being held without bail.
Meanwhile, today is day 345 at the Yellow Finch tree sit blockade near Elliston, VA!