by Gloria Tatum
On Friday, September 27th, Extinction Rebellion (XR) led hundreds of mostly young people to carry out a non-violent shut down of several streets in Atlanta to bring attention to the climate crisis and to expose our criminally negligent government for its inaction on the ecological crisis.
This event was part of a week of international protests in 150 countries and designed to coincide with the United Nations Climate Action Summit.
Many of these young adults don’t trust the government to do anything about the climate crisis because they know many politicians are bought and paid for by the fossil fuel industry.
The U.S. government has known about the harmful impacts of burning fossil fuels for over fifty years, and yet, they continue to give the fossil fuel industry millions of dollars in subsidies.
Scott Brown with XR explained that our political system is broken because of the way money flows into it and how slow it is to act. The government does not lend itself to dealing with an existential threat coming from climate change because of vested interests that have been controlling our government forever.
Brown makes clear that people have to get educated enough about the problem to understand what is going on and not be duped by whatever propaganda feeds into their political beliefs and realize that the laws of physics don’t care about left or right or socialism or capitalism or republican or democrat.
“We need a political system that fights for the people against the money. We have two parties that say they want to look after business and make sure the economy is great but none of them are looking out for the planet, the working class or the poor. We must build a mass movement and that is how big changes are made,” Brown told Streets of Atlanta.
Many of these young adults are choosing not to have children because they don’t want to bring a child into a world that may not be livable.
“We can’t wait, we are facing extinction for ourselves. I think we are pass the tipping point. I don’t expect to be around in the next ten years. I don’t think retirement is something I will have to worry about,” Sasha told the Streets of Atlanta.
Michael Elliot is also worried that people in his generation [20 plus -year-olds] may not be able to have children because of “catastrophes that could be called apocalyptic by the time I’m in my fifties,” Elliot said.
The 2018 National Climate Assessment Report warns of worsening natural disasters, new food and waterborne diseases, crop failure, and economic devastation by the end of the century.
Scientists have long warned about a global warming tipping point when climate changes will become irreversible and the worst effects – extreme drought, sea-level rise, flooding, monster wildfires, hurricanes, destructive tornadoes – become the norm, not the exception.
New studies predict that the tipping point could be as close as forty years from now, as reported in the Sierra Club magazine.
Currently, CO2 levels are 400 parts per million (ppm) or 50 ppm above what is safe for a healthy and stable climate and we must get the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations below 350 ppm to stabilize our climate system.
Scientific evidence is clear that climate change is real and that greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver of climate change which is making the planet hotter.
“The first and most impacted people are front line communities, the poor, impoverished and homeless communities, people of color, indigenous communities, we know that there are hundreds of thousands even millions of climate refugees,” Rev. Dr. Bruce Wright, Executive Committee, Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, and XR Climate Mobilization, told the Streets of Atlanta.
“On a personal level, I’m here because I have children and grandchildren that I want to see have a livable planet,” Dr. Wright said
One hopeful comment came from an anonymous climate justice advocate who said, “I think that climate is a unifying issue because we all share the climate and the planet. This is the way to build a mass movement, class consciousness, and to build a unifying force that can stand up to the cops, the empire, and shift people’s consciousness,” anonymous said.
XR Demands – click on this link for the complete demands https://extinctionrebellion.us/
XR demands are for the government to tell the truth about climate change and the wider ecological emergency and to communicate the urgency for change to individuals, communities, and businesses.
The Government must enact policies to reduce carbon emissions to net-zero by 2025 and take actions to remove the excess of atmospheric greenhouse gases.
They also demand a citizens assembly to oversee the changes because politicians have not demonstrated they are willing to take it on and many are climate change deniers.
They demand a transition that prioritized the most vulnerable people.
Timeline of the March and Rally
Everyone gathered at the Buckhead MARTA station between 9:30 and 10:00 am and marched down Peachtree Street toward Piedmont to block the streets.
As expected, they were met with extreme resistance from police who blocked the street and weaponized their bicycles to shove people backward with their bicycles.
The crowd chanted “Who do you serve, who do you protect?” The police certainly don’t serve and protect citizens who are trying to protect the planet for future generations, including the children of police officers. The police instead arrested several people.
To lose the police, XR shifted to a mobile strategy by taking MARTA to a new location in midtown where they blocked Peachtree Street and 10th Street for over 20 minutes before the police arrived and arrested more people.
XR marched around town and a few more people were arrested for wearing medical masks. One woman with RefuseFascism.org was knocked down by a police officer as he was chasing someone else. She reported her arm was bruised and hurt but not broken.
Next, they went to Piedmont Park for a rally and programming and finished with a march down the Beltline and through Krog Street Market.
Nineteen Social Juice Climate activists were arrested and charged with various violations.
One Disorderly Conduct (108-81.7)
One for prohibited conduct during an assembly (sign materials) (142-88)
One for wearing a mask (16-11-38) & pedestrian on or along the roadway (40-6-96)
Two for prohibited conduct during assemblies – barricade in street (142-86)
Three were arrested for wearing a mask (16-11-38)
Four for disorderly conduct pedestrian in the roadway (106-81.8)
Seven for Pedestrian on or along the roadway (40-6-96)
People cited for wearing masks were taken to Fulton County Jail and all the others were taken to Atlanta City Jail. Everyone is out of jail and most, if not all, posted a signature bond.
To watch Judy Conder’s video of Southeast Climate Strike and Rebellion, go to Georgia Grassroots Video Youtube channel (www.youtube.com/artemisthedrummer) or click on the link below