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Over the years that I’ve been giving speeches, workshops, and interviews, I have frequently said that the climate movement is going to have to get a lot tougher. I usually say this in the context of acknowledging the hard truths of the catastrophic levels of climate change that are now inevitable, based on my assumption that it would take some time to toughen up enough to be ready to deal with difficult situations when they arrive. My experience in DC last week protesting the inauguration of the Trump regime has caused me to question and deepen some of those assumptions about how to approach these challenging times.
On Friday, January 20th, I was part of the climate movement contingent that was blocking the Red Gate checkpoint for people entering the inauguration ceremonies. The inauguration had a massive security barrier around the National Mall with several large, airport style screening areas that funneled people into the secured area. As other social justice movements blocked other gates, our crew of about 400 climate activists blockaded the checkpoint marked Red Gate at 3rd St. and D St. NW. Around 8am, we stretched across the street with several lines of people with linked arms and unfurled banners about climate justice.
It was immediately a chaotic scene. Several Trump supporters who happened to be mixed up in our large group took a while to figure out what was going on. Some turned around or tried to go around us. The police started escorting some Trump supporters over a small wall to our right and through the grass behind us, but this was a slow, single-file trickle compared to the wide flow of people for which the checkpoint was designed.