Youth Climate Activists Demanding Green New Deal Arrested for Sit-In at McConnell's Office
By Jessica Corbett
Hundreds of Kentucky high school students and climate campaigners with the youth-led Sunrise Movement descended on the Capitol Hill office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday to deliver 100,000 petition signatures and stage a sit-in to make clear to lawmakers that young people want a Green New Deal for their communities and futures.
For calling on McConnell to heed public demands for federal lawmakers to pass policies that will phase out fossil fuels and combat the global climate crisis while also creating green jobs and a more just economy, more than 40 demonstrators were arrested:
BREAKING: arrests happening now outside #OilMoneyMitch's DC office https://t.co/S4AyB73aZY— Sunrise Movement 🌅 (@Sunrise Movement 🌅)1551112701.0
KY youth w/ @sunrisemvmt came to ask #OilMoneyMitch to #LookUsInTheEyes and tell us that the $1.9 million he took f… https://t.co/7fhl5gDGEV— Dyanna Jaye 🌅 (@Dyanna Jaye 🌅)1551113319.0
As recent polling shows more than 80 percent of Americans back key elements of the Green New Deal put forth by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), the mobilization to increase pressure on McConnell comes after the majority leader announced last week that he plans to rush a floor vote on the resolution, which critics denounced as a ploy to fuel divisions in the Democratic Party.
"Kentucky youth traveled here today because their state needs a Green New Deal. Mitch McConnell's Green New Deal vote is a political stunt to score some points for his wealthy donors," Sunrise Movement Executive Director Varshini Prakash said in a statement. "We're here to warn him and all senators: if you refuse to back the Green New Deal, young people will remember next time you ask for our votes."
Demonstrators who carried signs that read "Oil & gas $ or our lives?," "Green New Deal," and "Mitch, Look us in the eyes" as well as supporters posted updates on social media from Monday's demonstration with the hashtags #OilMoneyMitch and #LookUsInTheEyes:
Young Kentuckians with @sunrisemvmt were just kicked out of #OilMoneyMitch's senate office because he won't… https://t.co/ky11O8tonV— matthew miles goodrich (@matthew miles goodrich)1551112496.0
🚨 Stand with the young folks risking arrest in Washington, DC today to stand up to #OilMoneyMitch & fight for the j… https://t.co/V2YalElhZM— 350 dot org (@350 dot org)1551113261.0
Singing in #OilMoneyMitch's DC office: which side are you on? Ask all of Congress to stand with our generation by… https://t.co/w5UUEd8aqc— Sunrise Movement 🌅 (@Sunrise Movement 🌅)1551112467.0
"I am here because people in my community don't have jobs, are starving and turning to opioids and dying," 15-year-old Lily Gardner of Lexington, Kentucky said in a statement. "Mitch McConnell refuses to do anything about. His own constituents—high schoolers—have traveled here to meet with him. All we want is for him to put our lives above the interests of his campaign donors."
Both from McConnell's office and outside the Capitol Building, the youth demonstrators shared why they felt compelled to visit their senator in Washington, DC—with some pointing to warnings from a recent U.N. report that the international community has just about 12 years to pursue "rapid, far-reaching, and unprecedented" systemic changes needed to avert climate catastrophe:
“The Green New Deal is for my brother who has asthma and everyone in Louisville who suffers from pollution.” - Jenny https://t.co/XErswwC1N4— Sunrise Movement 🌅 (@Sunrise Movement 🌅)1551113982.0
“I’m here for my family—because people back home in Kentucky have had to put up with this crisis for far too long.”… https://t.co/lcQ0xy5k2r— Sunrise Movement 🌅 (@Sunrise Movement 🌅)1551114191.0
Erin, a young Kentuckian: “We have just 12 years to address this crisis” https://t.co/kROmNV8d04— Sunrise Movement 🌅 (@Sunrise Movement 🌅)1551111197.0
Young Kentuckians w @sunrisemvmtlou.... 🏛️ visited #OilMoneyMitch's office in KY multiple times last week ⛺️ camped… https://t.co/jBrwcHRD8k— matthew miles goodrich (@matthew miles goodrich)1551113524.0
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who is among the scores of
co-sponsors of the Green New Deal resolution, voiced support for the sit-in at McConnell's office on Monday, urging the youth climate activists to "keep fighting."
.@senatemajldr claims that a #GreenNewDeal is unattainable, as if he suddenly cares about climate. Instead of his o… https://t.co/jzJmGaAwCI— Senator Jeff Merkley (@Senator Jeff Merkley)1551113235.0
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
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