Jane Fonda was arrested on the steps of the U.S. Capitol building Friday as the 81-year-old activist and actress launched a new weekly civil disobedience campaign called #FireDrillFriday to pressure American policymakers to tackle the climate crisis.
"We make personal choices like driving an electric car or going vegan, recycling, and we think that that's enough. And it's great. And we have to keep doing it. But this is a collective crisis that demands collective action now."
"Inspired by the Swedish student, Greta Thunberg, the student strikers, and Naomi Klein's new book On Fire: The Burning Case for the Green New Deal, I have decided to upend my life, leave my comfort zone, and move to Washington, D.C. for four months to focus on climate change," Fonda wrote in a letter circulated by the group CodePink announcing the campaign.
Fire Drill Friday actions are planned for every Friday at 11 am through mid-January.
"Each Friday we will focus on a different aspect of the climate crisis and what needs to be done moving forward," Fonda explained in her letter, inviting celebrities, experts, and people from impacted communities to participate. "This is a once-in-a-century opportunity to address the greatest threat to the future of our planet. I will be on the East Lawn of the Capitol every single Friday, rain or shine, and would be honored to have you join me."
Fonda also promoted the actions she is organizing in a short video shared on Twitter:
— Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) October 11, 2019
Climate activists cheered on Fonda—famous for her decades of activism promoting peace, racial justice, feminism, and environmental action—as photos and videos of her arrest began circulating online Friday.
Jane Fonda plans to do this every Friday through the end of the year: Stand on the steps of the Capitol demanding more action on #ClimateChange, get arrested, rinse, repeat.
— Marissa J. Lang (@Marissa_Jae) October 11, 2019
— Greenpeace USA (@greenpeaceusa) October 11, 2019
Before Fonda was arrested, she delivered a short speech, during which she said that "we make personal choices like driving an electric car or going vegan, recycling, and we think that that's enough. And it's great. And we have to keep doing it. But this is a collective crisis that demands collective action now."
Today is the first #FireDrillFriday. Listen to @Janefonda on why we can’t ignore the #ClimateCrisis.
Sign up here to join CODEPINK and Jane Fonda for all @FireDrillFriday actions from now through January 10: https://t.co/f0y1apwioO pic.twitter.com/oTPHlSOyQf
— CODEPINK (@codepink) October 11, 2019
Along with Fonda, speakers at Friday's launch event preceding the civil disobedience included Keya Chatterjee, executive director of U.S. Climate Action Network; high school senior and climate striker Jerome Foster; author and activist Naomi Klein; Annie Leonard, executive director of Greenpeace USA; biologist and author Sandra Steingraber; and Kerene N. Tayloe, director of federal legislative affairs at WE ACT for Environmental Justice.
@Janefonda kicked off something amazing today, with beautiful cross generational solidarity. As she said, young people can't be the only ones disrupting their routines in the face of the climate crisis. We all have to. #FireDrillFriday https://t.co/r16Et7nPEw
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— Naomi Klein (@NaomiAKlein) October 11, 2019
— Fire Drill Fridays (@FireDrillFriday) October 11, 2019
It’s #FireDrillFriday here on Capitol Hill and we are climate first responders. @FireDrillFriday @NaomiAKlein and @medeabenjamin are in the house! The house is burning! Let’s put the fire out and apprehend the arsonists. pic.twitter.com/s24N3p3QY3
— Dr. Sandra Steingraber (@ssteingraber1) October 11, 2019
AMAZING #FireDrillFriday rally & action at the U.S. Capitol today!
Inspiring to see youth & climate movement leaders join @Janefonda & take bold action to confront climate crisis.
— Collin Rees (@collinrees) October 11, 2019
According to The Washington Post, which interviewed Fonda ahead of the launch event on Friday, "she has invited some of her celebrity friends: Actor Ted Danson of 'Cheers' fame, who has become involved in ocean conservation; 'The Vagina Monologues' playwright Eve Ensler; and actresses Kyra Sedgwick and Catherine Keener. She's reached out to leaders of Black Lives Matter and the Sunrise Movement. Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, will join the demonstrations."
In addition to the Friday actions organized by Fonda, beginning on Oct. 17 live-streamed teach-ins will be held each Thursday night featuring "interviews with experts who will discuss and answer questions about each different aspect of climate change that is the focus of the next day's action," according to a statement published on the Fire Drill Fridays website.
Vote, speak & act in support of the demands of youth climate strikers:
A Green New Deal
Respect of Indigenous Land & Sovereignty
Protection & Restoration of Biodiversity
Implementation of Sustainable Agriculture#FireDrillFriday #FridaysForFuture pic.twitter.com/VCdrZqTjM5
— Fire Drill Fridays (@FireDrillFriday) October 11, 2019
The website details the focuses of upcoming Friday actions as well as the campaign's five demands: a Green New Deal, respect of Indigenous land and sovereignty, environmental justice, protection and restoration of biodiversity, and implementation of sustainable agriculture.
Fonda's planned climate actions come as students across the globe continue to particpate in the #FridaysForFuture movement inspired by Thunberg, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee who began striking from school last year to stand alone outside the Swedish Parliament to urge her country's lawmakers to take bolder steps to battle the climate emergency.