Dozens arrested for demanding food justice at Jane Fonda’s fire drill Friday protest in DC

The weekly demonstration coincided with a global youth-led climate strike that aimed to put pressure on governments attending COP 25.

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SOURCECommon Dreams
Image credit: Fire Drill Fridays/Twitter

As protesters filled streets around the world Friday for a youth-led climate strike, more than three dozen people were arrested at the U.S. Capitol for Jane Fonda’s weekly Fire Drill Friday civil disobedience demonstration, which the actress and activist launched last month.

Each week, Fonda—along with friends from Hollywood and climate campaigners—holds a Thursday night teach-in followed by a Friday protest in Washington, D.C. The focus of this week’s #FireDrillFriday events was food justice.

Fonda, whose civil disobedience series was inspired by teen climate activist Greta Thunberg, was joined Friday by her grandchildren Malcolm and Viva; actors Iain Armitage and Paul Scheer; and various activists who spoke about how food and farming are both affected by and can be used to combat the climate emergency.

Jim Goodman of the National Family Farm Coalition, who also participated in this week’s teach-in, delivered a speech Friday before the action that led to arrests.

“It’s time for an agriculture that protects and restores the biodiversity of our land and the oceans; an agriculture that promotes organic farming, based on healthy soil, healthy food, and healthy people; an agriculture that respects the rights of farmers, farmworkers, and of nature,” he said.

Goodman called for “a food system controlled by farmers and the people we feed, not corporate profit margins or the global economy.” He also highlighted the importance of respecting the rights of Indigenous people around the world—one of the key demands of the Fire Drill Fridays movement.

Fonda, in her speech, tied the food justice and agriculture theme to last week’s focus, water, as well as a forthcoming focus, forests:

Scheer noted in a speech before he was arrested that this week’s action coincided with the Black Friday shopping event that follows Thanksgiving every year.

“I am here today because I am scared, I am angry, and I want something—and in many respects that’s like a typical Black Friday,” he said. “But instead of getting a cool new TV we are fighting for a Green New Deal and we are gonna get it because this is not a political issue—this is a human issue.”

Scheer shared how he “finally woke up” and “realized being concerned isn’t good enough.” As he put it: “We need to start showing up, like all of you here today. We need to get our friends involved. We need to stop waiting for the perfect moment to make a change and start it today.”

The Fire Drill Friday action happened alongside the latest climate strike, which youth organizers planned to pressure governments attending the United Nations COP 25 climate summit on Monday to pursue bolder climate policies.

Fridays for Future activists in D.C. organized a funeral procession on the Southeast lawn of the Capitol “to eulogize and mourn all that has been lost and all that is threatened by the climate crisis.”

“We’re bringing the loss of our future to the steps of the Capitol because they need to prepare to own this death,” 17-year-old organizer Maddie Graham said ahead of the demonstration. “We need systemic change. Congress has been feeding our fossil fuel addiction. They know they are killing our future, but they won’t take action to save it.”

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Jessica Corbett
Jessica’s writing has been published by The Nation, In These Times, The Ithaca Voice, London’s Peace News, and Common Dreams. Her work in journalism primarily explores the intersection of politics, public health, and environmental policy. She also writes about human and civil rights, gender, and labor issues.

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