In Attempt to Push Pelosi on Climate, Activists Blockade San Francisco Federal Building
Dozens of environmental activists blockaded the U.S. Federal Building in San Francisco on Tuesday, December 11, 2018. They were joined by hundreds of protesters calling on Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi to support a green new deal to address the planetary climate crisis. Listen to the full story below.
ACTIVISTS SINGING: People gonna rise like the water, gonna calm this crisis down. I hear the voice of my great granddaughter saying climate justice now.
JODY STRAIT: Over 40 activists walked solemnly, two by two, to the federal building in San Francisco holding bright yellow signs that read, “no more excuses.” They linked arms, and formed a line three people deep in front of a row of glass doors, blocking people inside the building. Nina Gordon-Kirsch led the group.
NINA GORDON-KIRSCH: The folks standing behind me, plus more than a hundren yesterday are putting their bodies on the line for our future. Putting their bodies on the line so that we can have a livable future! Nancy Pelosi hear their voices, see their bodies, represent your constituents.
JODY STRAIT: These activists, called the high-risk takers because they were willing to risk arrest, were part of a larger group of about 300 people, representing the bay area chapter of the Sunrise Movement, a national organization mobilizing young people to fight climate change. They called on representative Nancy Pelosi, likely the next speaker of the house, to support a green new deal, which would require the government to invest public funds into building a national infrastructure based on renewable energy. Protesters from the blockade spoke about why they came out to demand political support for the green new deal.
PROTESTOR 1: I’m here fighting for a world where everyone regardless of where they live can breathe clean air and have a livable job and livable life.
PROTESTOR 2: I’m here because I talked to my daughter who’s 20 and she said to me, “I would never have kids because look at the world I’d be bringing them into.”
PROTESTOR 3: I’m here because I don’t want to see butterflies on fire!
PROTESTOR 4: I’m here because my generation has the right to a viable future and I want to make sure that happens.
PROTESTOR 5: I’m here because we could have had a green new deal 20 years ago. We could have had a green new deal 50 years ago. And it’s because of lies, and corruption and greed on the part of politicians who do not represent our interests that we do not have this deal.
JODY STRAIT: Another group of sunrise activists took to Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. on Monday with the same demand. At least 143 of them were arrested. No arrests were made at the San Francisco blockade. The Sunrise Movement says the green new deal could be implemented within 12 years. They say that’s all the time the world has left to tackle the issue of climate change. Stephen Zunes, author and professor of politics and international relations at the University of San Francisco, says a green new deal is more than possible for the U.S. economy.
STEPHEN ZUNES: It’s quite feasible. I mean, when you think about the massive investments in the original new deal under Franklin Roosevelt, this is in the height of the depression. The economy was a mess. The United States is far, far, far richer than it was back then. So, if we could afford a new deal to try to tackle some of the worst aspects of the depression, we can certainly afford a green new deal to save the planet.
JODY STRAIT: The Sunrise Movement has seen success from their disruptive lobbying efforts in the past. Jim McGovern, a Democrat from Massachusetts, has come out in support of creating a select committee for a green new deal, after similar actions in Washington D.C.
Nancy Pelosi’s office did not respond to KPFA’s request for comment. But in a statement made on the topic in November, her spokesperson said addressing climate change remains one of her top priorities. Sunrise activists in Washington D.C. are expected to have a meeting with her office later this week.
For Pacifica Radio from San Francisco, this is Jody Strait.
End of transcript
This broadcast originally aired on The Pacifica Evening News, KPFA 94.1 FM on December 11, 2018. For rebroadcasting, contact me.