‘We’re Not Stopping’: Weeklong D.C. Climate Protests End With 650+ Arrests, Vows to Fight On

“There is no other planet to escape to. Water is life… They need to listen to the youth. They need to hear us speak our cries.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams.  Published 10-15-2021

Indigenous & frontline youth led march to the Capitol. Photo: Movement Rights/Twitter

Earth protectors and climate campaigners from across the continent Indigenous peoples call Turtle Island vowed to keep up the fight as they marched on Friday, the final day of action in the “People vs. Fossil Fuels Mobilization,” a weeklong series of protests in Washington, D.C. in which over 600 demonstrators were arrested as they demanded that President Joe Biden and Congress act in the face of a planetary emergency.

More than 90 people were arrested Friday as Indigenous-led activists peacefully marched on the U.S. Capitol under banners with slogans including “we did not vote for fossil fuels” and “Biden, real solutions, no bullshit,” while protesters called on Biden to declare a climate emergency. The Build Back Fossil Free coalition, which organized the mobilization, said Friday’s arrests brought the week’s total to 655.

“Corporations raised you up, but we will make you fall,” demonstrators sang—apparently targeting Big Oil-backed members of Congress—as they blocked one of the Capitol’s parking lots. “You picked a war with a generation, does it weigh on you at all?”

Love Hopkins, a 10-year-old member of the Standing Rock Youth Council who in 2016 ran from Standing Rock to Washington, D.C. with other young Indigenous people, said, “We’re not messing around… I came here to stand with my people to give voice to future generations.”

“For years the U.S. government has been lying and giving false hopes to our First Nations people,” Hopkins added. “We want answers and we want them now. If this is the land of the free and the land of opportunity, why can’t we have that? Why can’t we have clean drinking water?”

Morgan Brings Plenty, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe, said that “there is no other planet to escape to. Water is life… They need to listen to the youth. They need to hear us speak our cries.”

Mingyang Wei, a 14-year-old youth leader with Sunrise Movement D.C., said that “it is a shame that we still have to be here. It is a disgrace. How has this been going on so long? It has been going on because corporate greed has taken priority over the value of people in this country.”

Zanagee Artis, co-executive director of Zero Hour, another youth-led climate justice group, lamented that “we made a choice to vote for a president who said that he would be the climate president, who said that he would stop pipelines, and right now we are seeing a betrayal from the White House and Congress.”

“We need climate action now. We are out of time to address this issue,” Artis continued. “I campaigned for Biden. I called voters in Philadelphia. Black and brown people voted in droves, young people voted in record numbers for a president who promised action on climate change. Now he has the power to revoke the permits for Line 3 and he has not. He has the power to stop DAPL and he has not. He has the power to revoke fossil fuel leases and he has not.”

Isabelle Marie Knife, an Indigenous #StopLine3 campaigner, said: “Biden promised, just like they’ve done in the past, to bring us to the table, but where’s our seat? We haven’t been heard, they haven’t listened.”

“It takes youth to be on the frontlines to make our voices heard,” she continued. “We are the generation that says enough is enough, we will be heard, we will have a seat at the table. They tell us lies, they come on our lands, they promise this, they promise that.”

“Well, I promise you,” vowed Knife, “we’ve got a new generation coming and we’re not stopping.”

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)
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