200,000 Rally For Climate Justice in DC
Camera: Cameron Granadino Dwayne Gladden Taylor Hebden Reporters: Kim Brown Dimitri Lascaris & Kathleen Maitland-Carter Producer. Kathleen Maitland-Carter Associate producer Dharna Noor Editor Jaisal Noor
WOMAN: Today is Saturday, April 29th. The People’s Global Climate March is in both districts of downtown Washington, D.C.
CROWD: … We won’t go away, welcome to your 100th day… We won’t go away, welcome to your 100th day…
KIM BROWN: Demonstrators chanted, “We won’t go away, welcome to your one hundredth day,” outside of the White House to protest President Donald Trump’s environmental regulation rollbacks, and also called for a just transition to renewable energy, to prevent catastrophic climate change.
MAN: People are beginning to come together, who have been in silos before, and saying that we are all in the same boat now, so we have to make change. People are going to go back home after the march, and they are going to get engaged in the political process.
Some folks are going to run for office and be authentic in that space. Other people are going to make sure that they are holding folks accountable. We’re also going to be focused on a just transition, making sure that we are creating the right types of jobs inside of communities, so we can move away from fossil fuels. So, there’s a lot of action, there’s a lot of innovation, and I’m just excited with what’s about to happen.
KIM BROWN: Trump didn’t give an official response, but the EPA removed mention of climate change ahead of the march. Thousands also marched in New York City, Syracuse, Miami, Kalamazoo, Augusta, Maine, Phoenix, Seattle and Los Angeles. We spoke with some of the thousands who took to the streets in Washington, D.C.
MAN: We don’t need to escalate. The people need to be in tune. What they have done with this current election, but also the ascendancy of Mr. Trump, it is showing you the powerful, long-term influence and corruptive influence of money on our political and democratic process. The oil industry, which absolutely can outspend the average citizen, has bought this democracy.
It’s been a hundred days since Mr. Trump has ascended to office on these very steps behind us, talking about America carnage. Well, what did we mean by America carnage? We meant corporate carnage, and by that, he’s right now in Pennsylvania, which is one of the fracking capitals of this country, with regards to fracking gas, destroying lives. From destroying the aquifer, destroying farms, and destroying people’s health and lives, and yes, a gas industry that is also destroying the planet. And it’s just, as I said, twice as dirty as coal.
And so, the issue is right now, what kind of democracy do we want? Well, the American people like you see right here, right now, at this march, are here, this is what grassroots democracy looks like.
WOMAN: As a person of color, I feel like this is our issue, because we are, historically, have been affected by pollution. We are more vulnerable to the pollution that is emitted by coal-fired plants, and now that it’s causing climate change we are more vulnerable to those impacts. So, we’re kind of at the beginning, and at the end of the damage of climate change.
MAN: Today is really important. It’s continuing the resistance against this administration, that heartbeat, you know really started with the Women’s March on Day 1, and here we are on Day 100, still going strong. So, we’re going to be going out there to surround the White House today, and send a really clear message to this administration, that people are still ready to stand up and fight for our climate, jobs, justice, and put forward a new agenda about creating a new clean energy economy that really works for all of us.
MAN: There was not enough being done. There was progress being made, but there needed to be even more progress, and that’s why we cannot roll back regulations. We can’t roll back the budgets, especially for our most vulnerable communities who need the assistance, they need the help, they’ve been fighting to get traction. So, we need to make sure that we’re moving forward, and not backward.
So, when we talk about frontline communities, when we talk about environmental justice, we’re talking about communities of color. We’re talking about low-income communities, and working class white communities, we’re also talking about indigenous populations. And you can go across the country and find environmental injustices that are happening.
And Flint, which everyone knows about the impacts of lead that have happened there. And how, as a young person, when you’re impacted by lead, it follows you throughout your life, makes it more difficult for you to learn, makes it more difficult for you to be able to get employment. And then causes some other choices that may have to be made, when you can’t actually find work.
We’re talking about Standing Rock, and indigenous populations, and the protecting of our water quality, and the impacts that happen in that space. We’re talking about the Manchester community in Houston, Texas, where when you take a breath of air, you feel like you’re breathing in gasoline fumes. We’re talking about Mossville, Louisiana, who have been exposed to dioxins.
We’re talking about folks in New Orleans, and Gulfport, and the impact from storms that are coming, and they will be more intense because of the climate change that’s happening. We’re talking about Detroit, and the Marathon Refinery that’s there.
We’re talking about Barrio Logan, in California, and the issues that they’re dealing with, trying to get diesel reductions from the emissions that are happening. We are talking about communities in Appalachia, with mountaintop mining, and also with chemicals being spilled into the water, like at Elk River.
So, we are talking about America, and that’s why it’s so important for our president to actually go out and visit these communities, before you start making decisions. Spend some real time with folks, so they can explain to you the challenges that are happening in their community, but also the opportunities that exist.
So, you have the opportunity, Mr. President, to be someone who actually makes positive change. Why don’t you build communities up, instead of tearing them down? Let’s build bridges instead of walls.
MAN: Specifically around what some people call community benefits, that the communities and constituencies that are getting shafted in the fossil fuel capitalism that we live in, must be first in line to get the enormous numbers of good jobs, local revenues, and energy democracy that the transition promises.
MAN: There is a bit of a change. The tone is much different with Trump, this tyrant Trump, in the White House. And, you know, he has already made some signals that he would like to privatize federal lands, and also indigenous lands for extractive development. That’s extremely counter to any concepts of environmental justice. It’s extremely… it’s absolutely counter to the concepts that we as indigenous peoples have in our relationship to Mother Earth, and maintaining a healthy balance.
And, you know, we have to just continue the ongoing indigenous resistance that we’ve been seeing for 500 years, and just merely adapt and evolve, to meet the obstacles ahead of us.
WOMAN: People need to remember how powerful they are, their voices matter. They need to speak up. They need to go to their church meetings, they need to go to town halls, they need to go to their city councils, and say we want a better future, and they need to represent us. These congressional members, they work for you guys. They work for our citizens. Make sure that they’re accountable to us, and we deserve better.
I wanted to speak it, that if you really care about security, if you really care about your kid, if you really care about being able to live the life you’re living now, well, for some relative security, then we need to make sure that we are actually stepping up and doing more. We need to stop investing in foreign oil; we need to start investing in the United States.
If we want to make America great, I don’t know when it was great again, but great, period, forward; we need to actually begin looking at each other as the answers, as the solution.
KIM BROWN: As many of today’s attendees noted, it is an unseasonably warm day for late April here in Washington, with temperatures hovering around 90 degrees. Perhaps today’s weather forecast is indicative of the urgency needed to address our warming planet, rising seas, and contaminated water, soil and land.
Reporting on behalf of The Real News Network team in Washington, I’m Kim Brown.