WASHINGTON – An estimated 300 protesters gathered outside the Capitol building Friday demanding that Congress pass the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill. The demonstration was part of a global climate strike led by Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future movement. Activists of all ages shared inspiring speeches and personal stories about the impact of climate change and engaged in spirited chants calling for the end of fossil fuel use and climate justice. About half of the attendees were high school students who had skipped school because they feel that the climate crisis is more pressing than their education for a future they may not see.
The demonstration also featured a “die-in.” Demonstrators laid on the ground for about five minutes to symbolize deaths caused by the climate crisis, which primarily affects citizens of the Global South and Black and brown communities around the globe. Journalists from major news organizations, including Reuters, circled the silent crowd of children and young adults and took photographs of the somber scene. Unexpectedly, a passerby jeered “It’s just a photo shoot!”
Minutes later, when the activists resumed their speeches, one speaker led with the chant “Our future is not a photo shoot.”
American University student and Sunrise Movement activist Jaime Minden, who helped organize the event, said she was happy with the energy of the crowd today. “We’ve done bigger protests with Sunrise, for sure… the people who came cared and we definitely got a lot of media coverage,” Minden told HCAU.
Regardless of the size and scope of the event, activists were pleased with the outcome. Of course, they hope to see real action in Congress and from President Biden. Nonetheless, the activists there seemed energized by the passion of the attendees. Sunrise Movement is guided by principles of community, connection, and mutual aid. These principles are part of the reason why AmericanAlum Em Hilberer joined Sunrise DC after graduation.
“If you are even remotely interested in getting involved in climate organizing or anything involved in your community, do it now because if you don’t do it now, there won’t be another time to do it,” Hilberer said, reflecting on her choice to get involved with the Sunrise Movement and in climate organizing.
Sunrise AU will continue to strike to bring attention to climate change outside the Capitol on Fridays in alliance with the Fridays for Future movement. To get involved, contact [email protected]