Flood Wall Street: Sit-In Targeting Financial Giants’ Role in Global Warming

One day after the largest climate march in history in New York City, protesters rallied near Wall Street on Monday to highlight the financial industry’s role in fueling industries responsible for the air pollution that is causing global warming and climate change.

via DemocracyNow!

The action came ahead of the one-day United Nations Climate Summit today, where leaders from 125 countries will take part in the first high-level climate talks since Copenhagen nearly five years ago. Dubbed “Flood Wall Street,” hundreds of protesters dressed in blue held a rowdy sit-in on Broadway just blocks from the U.S. Stock Exchange. The demonstrators occupied the street for more than eight hours until police began arresting some 100 people. Democracy Now! was in the streets to cover the action. Watch our video report to hear some of the voices of people in the demonstration.

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AARON MATÉ: One day after the largest climate march in history, protesters marched near Wall Street Monday to highlight its role in fueling climate change. The action comes one day ahead of today’s U.N. one-day climate summit, when leaders from 125 countries will take part in the first high-level climate talks since Copenhagen nearly five years ago.

AMY GOODMAN: Monday’s protest was dubbed “Flood Wall Street” and saw hundreds dressed in blue hold a sit-in on Broadway, just blocks from the Stock Exchange. There were thousands around them. They stayed in the street for more than eight hours, until police used [pepper spray] to break up the gathering, began arresting more than a hundred people. Among those taken away in handcuffs was a person wearing a polar bear suit. Well, Aaron Maté and I were in the street Monday talking to those involved with flooding Wall Street.

PROTESTERS: Hey, hey, ho, ho! Fossil fuels have got to go!

PROTESTER: We’re taking over Wall Street! We’re flooding Wall Street!

DAVID SOLNIT: I’m David Solnit. I’m at Flood Wall Street, where I’m with thousands of people who marched 300,000-strong yesterday. And because the world leaders meeting in New York tomorrow are listening to corporations and not people, we’re taking it to where the power is, and thousands of us are about to sit down. We’re right next to the bull on Wall Street, because corporate capitalism always is hardwired to create climate change. So we need a new system. We have the solutions.

NAVAJO ACTIVIST 1: My name—ya’a’teeh. Shi eiya Diné elder [inaudible]. [speaking Diné Bizaad]

NAVAJO ACTIVIST 2: Ya’a’teeh. [speaking Diné Bizaad] Why we’re here today, we came with a delegation of people from Arizona. There’s about 11 of us altogether. And we come from a land that is heavily resource-rich, and we came to tell the world that we’re not going to be a resource colony anymore, and enough is enough.

NAVAJO ACTIVIST 1: The Navajo Nation, Diné Nation, which we’re from, sits on the richest energy corridor in North America, so our people, for close to a century, have been at the front line of energy extraction for this empire, including natural gas, oil, uranium and coal. And now they’re taking the water and pumping the water. Meanwhile, our people—a third of our people don’t have access to running water. I live without running water with my family. And so, we’re here to say, you know, we’re still here, and no more Native sacrifice for this empire.

PROTESTERS: The people, united, will never be defeated!

AARON MATÉ: This is the banner that was carried at the People’s Climate March on Sunday. It reads simply, “Flood Wall Street,” as hundreds unfurl it and hold it over their heads right in the heart of Wall Street.

LAUREL SUTHERLIN: My name is Laurel Sutherlin. We’ve just deployed a 300-foot banner right next to the iconic bull in downtown Manhattan. And today, 125 heads of state from around the world are arriving in New York City. And we’re here to tell the people of the world that we stand with them, and we’re willing to take radical action to bring about the drastic changes that are needed to have a healthy and livable future for our children.

BEN PTASHNIK: Hi. I’m a former state senator from Vermont. My name is Ben Ptashnik. And I’ve been in the solar business now for about 10 years in Mexico, where I went to pioneer the solar energy industry because of global climate change. But now I felt I had to come back, because U.S. Congress is bought out by the Koch brothers, the deniers, the tea party, and we’ve got to do something. We’ve got to do it here on Wall Street.

DR. LORA CHAMBERLAIN: Hi. I’m Dr. Lora Chamberlain. I’m with Frack Free Illinois. And we are here to protest fracking. In Illinois, they’re fracking right in the most active earthquake zones east of the Rockies. The largest earthquake in the U.S. ever, that we know of, was right here in the New Madrid Fault, and they’re going right to this area in Illinois. They’re completely ignoring—even the USGS hazards division has said it’s probably not a good idea to frack right here. There’s so much air pollution and respiratory effects of climate change from all of the different—the burning of fossil fuels. So, for fracking itself, the air pollution is volatile organic compounds like benzene. They create ozone. And some of the places that they’re fracking in Utah, the air is worse in rural Utah than it is in L.A. This is crazy.

KATHERINE BALL: I’m Katherine Ball. I’m from Detroit, Michigan.

ARTUR VAN BALEN: Hi. I’m Artur van Balen from Berlin, Germany. And we’re from the group Tools for Action, and we make inflatables for actions and protests, together with other groups.

KATHERINE BALL: And what we did here was we made a 15-foot sphere that was representing or symbolizing the carbon bubble, which is an economic bubble.

ARTUR VAN BALEN: So, the carbon bubble is like similar like the housing bubble. It’s about the shares of the fossil fuel industry, and they’re overvalued, and that the bubble will burst, because it’s based on unburnable carbon.

AMY GOODMAN: What happened to the actual physical carbon bubble here?

KATHERINE BALL: Yes. So, the carbon bubble was inflated with air, and it was kind of like a giant black-and-silver beach ball, and it got pushed over the crowd here at Flood Wall Street. And then it went and knocked off the bull, and then the police stabbed it and ripped it apart and tore it out. So, in a way, they engaged with the analogy and popped the carbon bubble.

AMY GOODMAN: How do you feel about losing your bubble?

ARTUR VAN BALEN: This is totally fine. This is like a symbolic act. And the guardians of the state performed the popping of the bubble for us, so we are fine with this.

KATHERINE BALL: Actually, it was our intention. It’s like part of the performance to get them to engage with the analogy and engage with the symbolism in a tangible way.

AMY GOODMAN: Did you rehearse with them beforehand?

KATHERINE BALL: We didn’t. Well, I guess we’re always kind of rehearsing with the cops.

PROTESTERS: The whole world is watching! The whole world is watching! The whole world is watching!

AMY GOODMAN: There are a bunch of police here. They’re arresting someone. They’ve got him on the ground. Hey, what’s your name? What’s your name? This isDemocracy Now! What’s your name?

ELLIOT HUGHES: My name is Elliot Hughes. I was tortured in 2008 at the RNC in—Republican National Convention in St. Paul. They might do it to me again! Help me! Help me! Fighting for environmental justice and worker control and the total dismantlement of capitalism.

PROTESTERS: The whole world is watching! The whole world is watching!

AMY GOODMAN: A young man was just arrested, who was standing on top of two phone booths. As the police took him down—not clear why they were arresting him—they had him down on the ground. We asked him his name. He said it was Elliot Hughes, and he said he was tortured at the RNC in 2008 at the Republican convention. The police brought him down on the ground, and they have taken him out. We didn’t follow beyond the barriers, because we’re covering the Flood Wall Street demonstration, and we’re afraid if we leave the barriers, we won’t be allowed to get back in. There are hundreds of people, more than a thousand people, who have gathered here on Wall Street to protest Wall Street, to flood Wall Street, on the second day of climate action in New York.

AARON MATÉ: Your name and what you’re doing here?

GRAHAM CLUMPNER: Yeah, my name is Graham Clumpner. I’m an Afghanistan War veteran, and I’m here to talk about climate change and the connections with militarism.

AARON MATÉ: What is that connection?

GRAHAM CLUMPNER: Well, I mean, when we go overseas, we’re going for resources and political, social influence. And that comes down to oil. It comes down to the things that are in the ground that we’re digging up and burning, go in the atmosphere and eventually are putting us in a position where we don’t have a future for our children. And the next veterans’ generation is going to be climate veterans. So, as a veteran of the last wars, I want to stop the next ones. Part of this is a paradigm shift. Historically, social movements need to have a coming-out and awakening moment. And this is it for the climate movement. This has been going on for 25 years. We’ve known the truth for over a hundred. And this is the time where the we come out to the world and say, “We’ve had enough of this. We need your help. This is about love. This is about the 99 versus the 1 percent. And Wall Street are the people profiting off these wars. Today is the day where we turn the tide.”

BETH HENRY: I’m Beth Henry from Charlotte, North Carolina. I’m not with a group. I just came from Charlotte with my good friend Pat Moore. We’re worried about our children and grandchildren and the future. We want Wall Street to stop funding climate chaos and fund only the solutions to climate change.

AMY GOODMAN: You are big activists taking on Duke Energy. Explain for people outside of the region in North Carolina the significance of Duke Energy.

BETH HENRY: Duke Energy is the largest electric utility in the country, and they burn a lot of coal. So, in North Carolina, we’re trying to get Duke Energy to make a rapid transition to renewable energy in hopes that their leadership will cause other utilities to make a rapid change, as well.

LEE STEWART: My name is Lee Stewart from Aldie, Virginia. I started the march in L.A. We’re marching from L.A. to D.C.

AMY GOODMAN: The march?

LEE STEWART: Yeah, the Great March for Climate Action. It’s not the People’s Climate March, but we’ve come here. We’ve paused our march for four days to come to New York City. For four days—

AMY GOODMAN: How many days have you been marching?

LEE STEWART: We have been marching since March 1st, and we’ll finish in Washington, D.C., on November 1st.

AMY GOODMAN: And 200 days, you’ve been walking across the country. Why?

LEE STEWART: I have been walking to confront my own inaction and my own complicity in the system.

PENNY OPAL PLANT: [echoed by the People’s Mic] We, our Idle No More group, created a series of healing walks, led by indigenous elders along the five refineries that exist in the Bay Area. They need to transition.

My name is Penny Opal Plant. I’m with Idle No More, San Francisco Bay. And I am here rising up for the future of life on Mother Earth’s belly, because the corporate capitalist state is so ignorant and arrogant that they will ruin Mother Earth’s creation. And that’s why I’m here. We all have to stand up in every corner of the world, no matter where we are, no matter who we are. If you love your children, if you love your garden, if you love to breathe air and drink water and eat food, then you need to hit the streets.

TIM DECHRISTOPHER: [echoed by the People’s Mic] My name is Tim DeChristopher. And you all look beautiful. When we talk about climate justice, it means keeping fossil fuels in the ground, and doing so in a way that does not guarantee profits to those who have already profited from exploitation. That means costing trillions in profits to the wealthiest and most ruthless industry in the history of the world. And they will not change easily. They will not change just because we ask. They will change only because we force them.

PROTESTER: [echoed by the People’s Mic] Mic check! Mic check! We are staying here! We will not move! We will not be moved, because we are sitting for justice, because there is only one future, and we are it! So we stay here ’til the closing bell and beyond! Pizzas are on the way!

SHELLAREC SCHAEFFER: Shellarec Schaeffer [phon.].

JUDY MURATHI: Judy Murathi [phon.].

SHELLAREC SCHAEFFER: And we marched against the war. We marched for civil rights. We marched in the ’70s. And we are so excited to see young people back into the battle to get the things we need. And we did it, and you guys can do it.

PENNY OPAL PLANT: [echoed by the People’s Mic] We must remember we are not separate from the sacred circle of life on Mother Earth’s belly. We must be humble and remember we are simple human beings, fighting for not only ourselves, but the rest of the circle of life that she has created.

PROTESTERS: [singing] The people are on the rise like the water, gonna calm this crisis down, and be the voice of my great-granddaughter, saying, “Shut down Wall Street now.” The people are on the rise like the water, we’re gonna calm this crisis down, and be the voice of my great-granddaughter, saying, “Shut down Wall Street now.”

AMY GOODMAN: The voices of Flood Wall Street. More than a thousand people gathered on Wall Street on Monday following the largest climate demonstration in history. Over 400,000 people marched on Sunday. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. Special thanks to Hany. When we come back, leaders from around the world talking on this day of the U.N. Climate Summit. Stay with us.