Yesterday evening, in an effort to get Congress to declare a climate emergency, protesters with the group called the Extinction Rebellion superglued themselves across a corridor blocking a tunnel connecting offices to the House of Representatives preventing Members of Congress from getting to the House floor for a vote. The Extinction Rebellion has been extremely active in London, bringing the city to a virtual halt earlier this year, but they had not made such a news splash in the U.S. until yesterday. According to Roll Call, seventeen protesters were arrested and charged with disrupting Congress, as well as defacing public property.
Why This Matters: The protesters claimed they were “shutting down Congress” due to the climate emergency — but it didn’t last long. Still, they made news and perhaps just keeping climate change in the news is helpful in making the case that Congress should address climate change as the urgent problem that it is. Unfortunately, it is hard for an issue like climate change to break through the news coverage or the Congressional docket, given the obsession of the day — Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony today. But it should. It may take more than a little gorilla glue to get it done, however.
Members of Congress Worked Their Way Around the Protesters
Roll Call reported that “Republican Rep. Ron Estes of Kansas said he just ducked under a protester’s arm to get by” and Indiana Republican Rep. Jim Banks said on Twitter said it was ‘hard to take any protester seriously who superglues himself together with another protester … I found another route!'”
- According to The Guardian, the protesters were “draped in yellow and red tape that said ‘Caution’ and wore yellow hazard signs that said ‘Declare climate emergency’ or ‘Closed. We’re sorry. Due to the climate emergency, Congress is shut down until sufficient action is taken to address the crisis.'”
- Kaela Bamberger, a spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion, said “We believe the issue is so urgent it should be treated as a top priority. Petitioning and lobbying have been shown to be ineffective in the past, so we are taking extreme action to reflect the extreme nature of the crisis. The climate emergency should be treated with the gravity it deserves.”
- She went on to say, “The legislative process has failed on the issue. We’re using nonviolent civil disobedience to combat complacency in Congress.”
The protesters were unglued from the doors of Congress without losing any skin, in case you wondered.