Over 1500 New Yorkers protest Gov. Cuomo’s climate dishonesty in Albany, 55 arrested in a non-violent act of civil disobedience to magnify demands for immediate climate action
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ALBANY, NY – In the largest climate rally in Albany history, on the day after Earth Day, more than 1500 people marched on the New York Capitol on April 23, 2018, as part of the Cuomo: Walk the Talk on Climate! day of action, telling the Governor to back three collective demands: to halt all fracking infrastructure, to transition New York to 100-percent renewable energy, and to make corporate polluters pay for the damage they cause to New Yorkers’ health and the environment.
Governor’s seat candidates participated in the protest, Democrat Cynthia Nixon marched the streets of Albany and Green Party’s Howie Hawkins marched and got arrested later at the Hall of Governors in the Capitol Building. Actor and activist James Cromwell was also among the 55 people arrested at the Hall of Governors in a non-violent act of civil disobedience to magnify demands for immediate climate action.
With over one hundred endorsing organizations, the march brought together New Yorkers impacted by climate change and the fossil fuel industry from Buffalo to Long Island. “Our state needs true climate leadership in the age of Trump, and unfortunately Cuomo has been long on rhetoric and short on substance,” said Laura Shindell, New York Organizer at Food and Water Watch.
The march started in Sheridan Hollow at the proposed site of a 16-megawatt power plant, intended to power Empire State Plaza. “The proposed fracked-gas plant in Sheridan Hollow exposes the phoniness of Cuomo’s environmentalism,” said Bob Cohen, Policy Director at Citizen Action of New York. “Black and brown neighborhoods don’t deserve to have toxic fumes pumped into the air. No neighborhood does.”
“Now is the time say no to new fossil fuel projects, move towards 100-percent renewables and make polluters pay. The extractionist economy does the most harm to two groups–those already impacted by racism and marginalization, and future generations who will inherit the pollution we put into the air today,” said Karenna Gore, Director of the Center for Earth Ethics. “Governor Cuomo has made some great environmental decisions and delivered some important statements. Today, I hope he will take the concrete steps necessary to meet the challenge of climate change.”.
As people rallied on the Million Dollar Staircase, a group of activists sat in outside Governor Cuomo’s office, sharing stories of how they have been impacted by climate change and pollution before being led out in handcuffs. Civil disobedience is a tactic growing more common in the climate movement in the face of federal and state inaction. “Since 2011, we have worked diligently with the system by following lawful procedure,” said Kim Fraczek, Director of Sane Energy Project, which seeks to replace fracked-gas infrastructure with renewable energy sources. “We now must escalate to civil disobedience in order to protect our health, safety and democracy.”
Just last month, a district judge in Massachusetts found thirteen protesters not guilty after they obstructed construction of a fracked-gas pipeline, a historic ruling in favor of the “climate necessity defense.” “For decades our elected officials have failed to appropriately address the climate crisis,” said Tim DeChristopher, founder of the Climate Disobedience Center and defendant who participated today in New York. “In the face of that failure, more and more regular people are stepping up to take direct action to resist the imminent threat of the fossil fuel industry.”
“Climate change is an emergency,” said Dan Sherrell, Campaign Coordinator of New York Renews. “Governor Cuomo’s modest actions to date don’t match the scale and urgency of the problem. That’s why we’re at his doorstep today.”
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