Photograph Courtesy of Lauren Scully
On December 11, over 250 people protested outside Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi’s office in San Francisco to pressure her to come out with support for the Green New Deal, a plan proposed by representative elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to help prevent and curb the worst effects of climate change. The protest in San Francisco, as well as others around the country, was organized by the Sunrise Movement, a national organization of young people working to push representatives to fight for climate change. “We’re looking for our representatives to really stand up for climate change action now, and not plan for the future…but do something in the moment,” said Nina Gordon-Kirsch, a part of the core team for the Bay Area Sunrise Chapter, who helped plan and organize the protest.
The Green New Deal is a policy that plans to provide jobs for Americans to help reduce US carbon emissions and prepare for climate change, such as installing solar panels. Although the exact programs haven’t yet been decided, it will include a move to one hundred percent clean energy over the next ten years. “It’s not easy to just turn to 100 percent renewable energy or other issues that are a part of the Green New Deal, but it’s an important edge because in our society we don’t usually challenge ourselves to grow and learn unless there’s an external challenge for us,” said Gordon-Kirsch. So far, 35 representatives have given support for the Green New Deal, and the Sunrise Movement hopes that Pelosi will join this group.
Participants who were willing to assume higher risk, meaning they were willing to put themselves at risk for arrest, attended a mandatory three hour training in Oakland on Monday. At the training, participants role played possible situations, practiced formations, and were told what to expect from the protest, including learning three different possible plans, A through C, from most or least ideal, according to Lydia Macy, a Berkeley High School senior in Communications, Arts, & Sciences (CAS) who attended the training and protest with fellow CAS senior Rachel Aronson. At the protest, they were able to go through with Plan A. “Everything was really thorough, which I was really impressed by because Sunrise is a volunteer-run organization,” said Macy. “[I was] persuaded to do higher risk, which I didn’t think I was going to do,” she added.
The training was also meant to build camaraderie among the participants.
On the day of the protest, participants met at United Nations Plaza at 9AM for speeches from youth and different organizations. One speaker was Ramuri Cash Hamilton, a student at Oakland Sol Middle School who started an activism club at school with his friends, and came to support the Sunrise Movement. “I want to fight for a better future for my little brother and sister,” said Hamilton.
At 11AM, people assuming higher risk marched to the San Francisco Federal Building, linked arms, holding posters reading “Green New Deal Now.” Although many were prepared for arrest, no one was arrested. “There was a feeling of immense camaraderie and hope and passion,” said Macy.