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.

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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)

Relationships matter if we want to win

Cross-posted from Medium

Relationships matter if we want to win: How-to cultivate more human connection online to build stronger movements (3-part series)

by Vanessa B.

INTRODUCTION


Let’s face it: Single-issue advocacy that directly pressures government and business won’t solve today’s crises on its own. It also won’t create the deep relationships and power we need to achieve multi-level, community-based, systemic change.

Sure, there are small (sometimes compromised) gains in the short term when organizations and groups muster enough strength, resources, and staff to pummel their opponent, but we’re losing the war. Wins are often rolled back when we can’t keep up the pressure or critical mass with finite resources. Too often, non-profits replicate the same systems of oppression they’re trying to dismantle in the first place. **Burnout is real**

More deep and lasting cultural change can happen if non-profits build real relationships with supporters*. By talking with more people, organizations can share resources that draw more people into leadership roles, expand internal and external capacity, and consensually support infrastructure on the ground to leverage power and create change.

It’s time to start doing better, deeper digital work to build real relationships with supporters — relationships that transform communities, grow and develop skills, support the grassroots, and expand movement infrastructure — you know, the things that we know create lasting change.

It’s possible to talk to more people, and I’m going to ask some hard questions and delve into how it can be done throughout this blog series.


The internet (“digital” or “online advocacy”) has given us the ability to reach more people and send a message further than it ever has gone before — so, why aren’t we winning more?

Let’s ask the hard questions: Are we using online platforms strategically to build relationships and power with the resources we have? Are for-profit platforms fundamentally changing the way we connect with people for the worse? Is it unethical to consistently grow your email list without the staffing, resources, and know-how to actually organize it? Is it even possible to cut through a crowded online space and make an impact on the ground?

More importantly, is online advocacy even organizing anyone? What would our movements look like if we focused a little more on personal connections instead of on getting signatures on a petition or on other, temporary, performative “wins” that push for an urgent and temporary critical mass?

“We have lived through a good half century of individualistic linear organizing (led by charismatic individuals or budget-building institutions), which intends to reform or revolutionize society, but falls back into modeling the oppressive tendencies against which we claim to be pushing. Many align with the capitalist belief that constant growth and critical mass is the only way to create change, even if they don’t use that language. If the goal was to increase the love, rather than winning or dominating, we could actually imagine liberation from constant oppression. We would understand that the strength of our movement is in the strength of our relationships. Scaling up would mean going deeper.” — adrienne maree brown, emergent strategy (edits made for length)

Surely with the focus on adding millions of people to popular progressive email lists — we’d have more wins under our belts. Right? RIGHT?! With so many tech tools and platforms at our fingertips, we should be talking directly to more people and bringing them into community — not less.


If you’re an organizer, activist, or change-maker, ask yourself how you got into this work. For me, it’s because someone spoke about an issue with me face-to-face. There was a personal connection. A relationship began.

The relationship gave me a space to be part of something as my true self and empowered me to see and question unfair power structures and step forward into community with others who felt the same way. There’s even research on this point: that relationships are a main driver of social change.


We live in an exciting time. The rapidly evolving digital sector has enabled us to reach people and scale our work like never before.

The downside is that for-profit social media platforms have fundamentally transformed how we communicate, share, learn, and organize for the worse. We need to be extremely cautious about how and why we use them.

“Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others aren’t built to foster deep human connections; they’re built to maximize our time on their platforms. Social media uses notifications to trigger the release of dopamine to fool our brains into thinking we are making meaningful connections and keep us on their sites. Our brains think this is making us happy which is why we keep coming back for more but it’s actually making us miserable.” — Nicole Carty, Momentum

As the world changes, so must our resistance to it — and our resistance needs to be irresistible and strategic!

Most simply, advocacy organizations need better processes for creating online organizing strategy?— and reject for-profit tech traps that are vacant of real personal connection.

If we want to bring more people into our movements and win more, we need to get better at having more principled and personalized conversations with the right person at the right time. We need to talk with more people, more deeply.

To truly scale, we gotta go deep.

Only when we can build lasting relationships at scale will collective participation and liberation be the outcome. Building these relationships should be the focus of our engagement strategy online and offline.


I will be the first one to say that “digital” or “online organizing” isn’t a magical unicorn that will get us exactly what we need exactly when we need it. But, by constantly asking questions about our strategy like I’ve outlined throughout this blog series, I know we can get closer to multi-level, community-based system change where people and culture change come first — not the latest executive director, digital campaigner, elected official, or tech tool.

In our fast-paced culture, it’s important to make time to reflect on where we are and where we’re going. And, with billion dollar companies controlling the way we speak with each other, we need to be vigilant and intentional about what online organizing is going to look like in 5 years.


Go to Part 1: How-to be more accountable to your online supporters.

*Supporters are people who are on your email list, follow your social feeds, donate, or contribute to your group in some way.

**The scope of this series mainly focuses on non-profits with sizable email lists, not grassroots groups and frontline organizers — but there are definitely tidbits of insights for everyone. It also doesn’t go into how to support, be in coalition with, or exercise consent to grassroots or frontline communities.

Written by Vanessa Butterworth. Edited by Jay Carmona.