Trump Wakes Up To A Sign Of The Times, RESIST
On Tuesday, January 24 President Donald Trump engaged further in his war against a science-based understanding of, and response to, climate change. He signed executive orders that brought back two oil pipelines, which President Obama halted in response to mass protest, and an executive order which would make the approval process for further infrastructure projects less intensive. Before the sun rose on Wednesday, January 25 a group of daredevils associated with Greenpeace were ready to respond from a tower crane visible from the White House.
The group unfurled a house-sized banner reading RESIST at around 9.45 am. The best photos of the action came from in front of the White House and gave me a powerful feeling that rebellion was in the air. Three climbers were attached to the banner to ensure that it could be read from afar and that it could only be removed by first removing the climbers. I could see three other activists on the crane acting as support for the climbers. The group stayed on the crane for 14 hours, from 8am to 10pm, before coming down consensually. Their action shut down three city blocks.
From the ground I heard passers-by shocked by their bravery. I only saw one sign of support, it had a MoveOn.org logo. Most of the support I heard was vocalized by chance passers-by and I did not hear anybody call the climbers idiots or question the validity of their action despite them causing a road closure. I discussed the action with several people on the ground. Some of them needed me to explain direct action, a lot of them wanted reassurance that the climbers were safe to which I would respond that they are safe unless the police screwed something up. I think that a lot of the people I spoke with were coming around to consider engaging in direct action, just not climbing a crane. Attracting allies is one of the purposes of engaging in publicity generating direct actions, by inspiring others to consider a broader array of strategies.
The scene was splendid. I woke up and saw a live feed of the action on my Facebook wall. I finished my tea and decided that I wanted to witness whatever passed. I biked down and arrived soon after the banner was unfurled. I brushed off my Nikon to get photos and had conversations with several of the bystanders about what was happening. The atmosphere was electric.
Rebellion is in the air in the Capital and it could be the silver-lining of what happened in the last election.
So what happened? A group of people, who care deeply about the environment and have the skills and resources to do a banner drop, decided to risk their lives and liberty in order to send a message to anybody who witnessed it. Our society’s blasé attitude toward environmental destruction and climate catastrophes will not be tolerated by a very motivated segment of said society.
They had access to, or had made, a 70-by-35-foot banner which simply expressed their stance on the subject. They had the training, confidence, and personnelle to feel confident in performing the action. And they had the opportunity and liberty to successfully perform the action. Thanks to their confidence thousands of people were introduced to radical action, and humanity should be grateful for their risk.
Anybody can engage in direct action but planning, training, security, safety, and sufficient willing participants are necessary steps before I can recommend that anyone performs an action. For more information on action planning check out the links below.