The fight continues! Just one week ago, The Sunrise Movement, along with nearly 1000 other young people, took to D.C. to lobby representatives in support of Alexandria Ocasio Cortez's Resolution For a Select Committee on a Green New Deal. Long name aside, this legislation is probably our best hope at halting the worst effects climate change has to offer, and people are stepping up to make it a reality. A few weeks ago, Sunrise held a nationwide day of action in support of the deal, telling reps at their local offices that it was the time to act. Now, they've gone to their offices in D.C. too, turning up the heat even more. I'm happy to say that I was one of those young people, so let's talk about it!
The First Day - The Training
The first day of the event was more of a half day, and really only consisted of a training for the actual event to take place the following day. We spent the few hours there learning about what exactly Sunrise was planning, when it was all going to happen, and who was responsible for what: here's the plan they talked to us about:
First, in the morning, we would gather at Spirit of Justice Park, and congregate for a rally. Then, we'd split into groups of about 20 people. These groups were split to visit individual representatives (and each person was put into a group depending on who they were constituents of, at least in most cases). Each group, once we were sorted, would head out to their own respective representatives to engage in a lobbying session. Once that was finished, each of the individual groups would congregate into three larger groups which, after a quick lunch, would go to three different offices for sit-ins. After that, we would come back to the park, have a quick rally, and disband for the day, with people that want to stay visiting a few more offices before the end of the event.
After explaining all of this, the organization then went on to talk some more about future projects (which they'll be releasing details about soon) as well as the progress they and the Green New Deal has made up until that point. We ended the training with a few chants, a reading of the organization's principles, and then wrapped up the night, heading off to a few rented-out churches to sleep.
The Second Day - Visiting Seth Moulton
This day was definitely the busiest out of the two. We woke up early, got dressed, ate a quick breakfast, and took the Metro out to Spirit of Justice park (fitting name!) to meet with the other people who were attending. After a few words to get us rallied, Sunrise split us up into our lobbying groups. I was part of the team that visited representative Seth Moulton, although not everyone in the group was a constituent of his. Nonetheless, we came together, and set off to go visit him.
While Moulton himself wasn't present at the office, we were able to talk to one of his staffers which I believe, if memory serves, was one of his main energy consultants. The meeting was a bit surprising, not because of the staffer we met with, but rather, due to my team's large numbers, we couldn't find a meeting room big enough to fit everyone, so we actually ended up discussing in the hallway!
The session started off with an introduction from Owen, our group leader, about why exactly we were visiting the staffer today and what Alexandria Ocasio Cortez's legislation really meant. We then transitioned into a story segment, in which three members of the group (including myself) shared stories about how exactly climate change has impacted our lives and the lives of those closest to us. I myself shared a story about my grandfather's beach house, and how it was condemned by hurricane Sandy. We then transitioned into a few closing statements, shook hands with the staffer and headed out.
Although our meeting was fairly short, the staffer seemed quite responsive to the deal, and said he would be speaking about it with Moulton as soon as possible. After the meeting wrapped up, we grabbed a quick bite for lunch and then headed to our sit-in location. My group, which consisted of about 300 people, went to Jim McGovern's office, where we handed in envelopes with personal letters detailing our stories. We stood outside the office for about half an hour before some complications began to arise.
What I didn't mention towards the beginning of this post was that our protest was actually split up into two groups: Team A and Team B. Team A was planning to be arrested, and Team B was not. I, being a minor in another state without my parents, chose to be part of Team B. However, both teams were present at McGovern's office when the police began to show up.
To their credit, working with the police seemed to be a breeze. From the little I heard in conversation between them and the Sunrise appointed Police Liaisons, they were extremely kind and cooperative. However, they did not allow us to chant or even hold up our signs for the event, so we were required to keep our mouths shut and our posters down until Team B was safely escorted out. So, that is where my personal coverage of the sit-in portion ends.
However, I was still present when Jim McGovern agreed to sign on to the deal. Success! He said and publicly tweeted that he would fully support Alexandria Ocasio Cortez's deal, which is a great step forward. Unfortunately, shortly after this, Team B had to go, as Team A was beginning to turn up the heat on other reps. So, while the sit-in was over for me, that's not where my story ends. After we had safely exited the building, we stuck around to support and cheer on those who had been arrested. We watched as over 50 young men and women from our group were arrested. Truly an example of incredibly bravery, and I hope to join them in the future.
So, where do we stand now? Well, as far as I know, the two other sit-in groups did not get their representatives to sign on, but it doesn't really matter. Because, in a span of just a few weeks, the number of representatives that previously supported the deal (only twelve) has skyrocketed up to 37! That's a huge jump, especially for such a short amount of time, and it says something about just how well this deal can work. The Sunrise Movement and people that have come out to support them have made this deal from a far-fetched reality into something that actually might happen! This is incredible!
So, the D.C. trip is over, but the movement certainly isn't. The Sunrise Movement isn't stopping here. They're going to be working tirelessly over the next few years, not only to ensure that more representatives sign on to the Green New Deal, but that it becomes the talk of the nation. In just a few short weeks, they've managed to bring it from obscure to popular in the political circle, and now it's time to bring the idea to the people. We've got serious momentum here, and this is without a doubt the best hope we have at stopping climate change, so we can't let it slip through our fingers. Real change is happening, but it's not going to succeed without everyone's help. It's time to act.
All credit for images used in this post goes to: