Environmentalist Youth Arrested at McConnell’s Office

Dane Larsen | @_danebailey

US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R- KY) left his office this past Monday, February 25th, to a group of outspoken youth from his representative state. Hundreds of driven high school and college students from Kentucky flew out to Washington D.C. to condemn Senator McConnell. Why? His words against Ocasio-Cortez and Ed Markey’s Green New Deal.

A group of young protestors put together a sit-in in Senator McConnell’s office during congressional recess. They aimed to convey the message that the younger generation will not tolerate his stance on the Green New Deal. Pushing for immediate change to decarbonize the US economy, the students became aggravated by the recent actions of resistance by McConnell. Namely,  his opposition to passing such a bill. McConnell stated just weeks ago that he would bring the Green New Deal to a Senate vote. However, it would be done without any committee hearings. The student saw this as a restraint on the voice of the new generation, hence the protest.

The nonviolent, civilly disobedient protest turned serious, as police stormed into the office of McConnell. According to the official Twitter of the Sunrise Movement, the police arrested 39 activists for violating the parameters within peaceful protest.

What is the Sunrise Movement?

The Sunrise Movement is a grass-roots organization to “to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process.” The aim of their program is to push for climate change-related legislation and, in the process, progress the United States toward a more environmental-friendly industry. The recent actions in D.C. have been attributed to members of the Sunrise Movement, in a nonviolent protest against #OilMoneyMitch.

Sara Blazevic and Varshini Prakash coined the term “Sunrise Movement” in 2015. However, only recently have they gained traction in the public eye. In their small time as a corporation, they have banded together a passionate coalition of students across the country. Their headquarters are based in Washington D.C. In August of 2018, they organized a rally across the country to call out politicians in office. Specifically, those whose actions are influenced by the overpowering fossil fuel industry. In an act of civil disobedience, the Sunrise Movement organized #HeatWeek across various cities. In New York, for example, students protested Gov. Cuomo’s acceptance of over $450,000 from fossil fuel billionaires”. This looks much like the protest held against McConnell, who has received $1.9 million in capital from large-company oil and/or gas CEO’s.

The 2018 Midterms

Following the 2018 midterms, the movement organized two protests in and around the Capitol, standing in solidarity against all talk, no action patterns of the political establishment on the topic of climate change. On both November 13th and December 10th of 2018, hundreds of outspoken activists supporting the Green New Deal met the Congressmen and women opposing it at their very front doorstep. Cortez (D- NY) joined them on the first occasion and Jim McGovern (D- MA) on the second.

As a result of the midterms, only half of their 20 endorsements won their contest for spots in US Congress, with Alexandria Ocasio Cortez being at the front. Newly-inaugurated Representative Deb Haaland of New Mexico, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilan Omar of Minnesota are following behind. The protest is over, but “there is still so much to fight for”. Blazevic and Prakash say that “Three months in, everything has changed, but we’re not stopping now.”

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