With plenty of overlap between them, both climate justice campaigners and supporters of Bernie Sanders held marches and rallies in downtown Philadelphia on Sunday, making their presence and political demands heard a day before the Democratic National Convention officially kicks off.
Under a banner calling for a "Clean Energy Revolution," the climate march put a focus on key shortcomings when it comes to the Democratic Party's commitment to addressing an increasingly hot planet.
Mark Schlosberg, national campaign director for Food & Water Watch, which spearheaded the protest with the backing of nearly 900 other local and national organizations, said neither party has shown the necessary urgency when it comes to dealing with the crisis. "Together," Schlosberg explained in a blog post ahead of the march, "we are sending a clear message to our elected officials: we demand a future powered by clean, renewable energy, not one that depends on dirty, polluting fossil fuels."
The hashtags #CleanEnergyMarch and #OurClimateRevolution were both being used by organizers, attendees, and supporters of the cause:
When matched against the climate denialism of the Republican Party, which almost uniformly rejects even the existence of the crisis, the Democrats looks like planetary saviors. However, as climate experts like 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben have repeatedly emphasized, the physics of global warming do not care the slightest about this politics of relativity. As journalist Kate Aronoff wrote Friday for In These Times, "When it comes to climate change, there’s precious little time for lesser evils; the physics—as scientists are quick to tell us—has put humanity on a deadline."
Those marching did so in the name of a host climate-related demands, including:
- An immediate nationwide ban on fracking and offshore drilling;
- Support of polices to keep all fossil fuels in the ground, with priority on those beneath public lands;
- An end to funding and building of fossil fuel infrastructure project; and
- A rapid and just transition to 100 percent renewable energy by mid-century or earlier
Bill Snape, a senior attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, who dressed as a polar bear for the march despite the sweltering heat explained why he attended.
"I'm in much better shape than the polar bears of the Arctic," Snape told Philly.com while standing in the shade at Independence Mall. "Their habitat is literally melting, melting precipitously. So this is our lighthearted way to remind people we need to stop climate change now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Now."
Elsewhere in the city, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, thousands of Sanders supporters assembled for a rally and march, "energized by the announcement that DNC Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz would not preside over the convention."
Offering a glimpse of the scene, the local newspaper reports:
One dejected Sanders loyalist, Paula Iasella, 61, of southern New Hampshire, lugged a 3-foot by 4-foot double-faced sign on a 7-foot-tall aluminum pole. The front of the sign was a portrait painted of Sanders with the message #stillBernie; the back, a silhouette of Sanders with his fist raised and the words "US DemExit."
Iasella said she is leaving the Democratic Party after 42 years.
Another Sanders supporter, Ian O'Malley, 24, of Media, said he was especially angry over the WikiLeaks email news. "When will this madness end," he asked.
O'Malley carried an elaborate, bamboo frame flag contraption with several colorful quilt square signs lashed to it. "This party's over," and "Not Afraid to Go Green," it said.
Participant Jessica Griffith of Las Vegas held aloft a sign lettered with DNC in red, with the words "Does Not Care about Democracy" in black.