Just hours after roughly 400,000 packed the streets of New York City for the People's Climate March, a flood of people marched to the city's financial district to target what they say is the root of the climate crisis: capitalism itself.
Demonstrators sporting blue aimed to stage a mass sit-in Monday morning "at the heart of capital"—Wall Street—to call out and demand transformation of "an economic system based on exploiting frontline communities, workers and natural resources."
Humanity does not have the luxury of more time to take meaningful action on the climate crisis, the action, under the banner #FloodWallStreet, stresses. So it's time to heap the pressure on the corporate polluters and profiteers and usher in a paradigm shift that allows for a just and sustainable economy, they say.
"Two years ago, Superstorm Sandy literally flooded New York’s Financial District — but it didn’t phase Wall Street and their drive for the short term profits that flow from the cooking of the planet," author and activist Naomi Klein, who spoke at the event, said in a statement issued by the group. "Which is why we’re going to flood them again."
“Indigenous peoples are here at Flood Wall Street to send a direct message to the financiers of the global climate crisis and the fossil fuel regime since we are on the frontlines of the impact of fossil fuel development as well as experiencing disproportionate impacts of the global crisis," said Clayton Thomas-Muller of Idle No More. "We have so much at stake, and a shared ambition to target the international financiers to throw a wrench in the system and disrupt commerce and business as usual here in the belly of the beast in the United States of America.”
After an hours-long standoff with squadrons of New York Police officers during which roughly three thousand people held a sit-in beside the infamous Wall Street charging bull, a wave of protesters attempting to march on Wall Street were met by a line of officers two blocks from the stock exchange center.
As seen on the live feed of the march, at least one woman was pepper sprayed as activists tried to charge the metal barricades before the group continued the sit-in in front of the police line.
Ahead of the sit-in, the group gathered in nearby Battery Park, where speakers from Mexico to Nepal to Mali put the spotlight on the urgency of the crisis.
"The time has come to question and reject the model of development that destroys us, that does not take into account or protect natural resources, clean water, air or food," said Miriam Miranda, general coordinator of the National Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH). "The planet is collapsing and the time has come to act," she said.
"Corporations took power. Now it is time to take back our power."
—Godwin Uyi OjoGodwin Uyi Ojo of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria called his home continent "a typical example of the criminal acts by corporations. Climate change is already causing damages to the lives of people."
"These criminal acts started a long time ago, from slavery to colonialism to structural adjustment programs to neoliberal policies," Ojo told the crowd. "Corporations took power. Now it is time to take back our power."
Srijana Poudel from the Women’s Awareness Centre Nepal highlighted the current impacts of such corporate power on natural resources.
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"We used to have water but don't anymore. Farmers are in the street. We cultivate but nothing grows... because developed countries like yours are doing experiments on developing countries like ours," she said.
Addressing the enthusiastic crowd, author Chris Hedges said it's time for nothing short of revolution.
"Up that road lies the emerald city of Wall Street. In that city the wizards of finance profit from the death of the planet. No one will stop them but the people. This means revolution."
Elisa Estronioli, a Brazilian land-rights activist with La Via Campesina and People Affected by Dams, added in a press statement, "The real solution to global warming is organizing workers worldwide for the construction of a new model, with justice, equality and respect for life."
Harmonizing the calls for urgent action were calls for global alliances.
"After yesterday's march I was inspired by the growing global movement," said Robert Robinson of the New York-based Take Back the Land Leadership Committee. "The movement to protect Mother Earth starts here. We are building global solidarity."
The group then proceeded to march to the financial center where a mass sit-in was staged at the intersection of Broadway and Morris, beside the infamous charging bull statue.
Protesters chanted, "People over profit!" and "We are unstoppable, another world is possible!"
Speaking via "mic check," —a method of projecting to a large crowd by repeating speakers' words popularized during the Occupy movement—activists with the Climate Justice Alliance described how frontline communities and communities of color are often the first to feel the impact of environmental degradation at the hands of corporate profiteers. Common Dreams staff, reporting live from the action, said the mood was energetic as participants used the hours-long sit-in to strategize about how to carry out these lessons "back home."
Follow the hashtag #FloodWallStreet on Twitter to see more of the event as it unfolds:
StopMotionsolo is livestreaming the event, which you can see below: