Nov 17, 2019
The global grassroots movement Extinction Rebellion Monday is targeting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with a hunger strike and demanding that the Democratic leader embrace bold climate action as have progressive lawmakers around the country.
The group told Pelosi a week ago that members would begin a hunger strike Monday unless the California Democrat agreed to a one-hour, on-camera meeting to discuss Extinction Rebellion's demands for concrete climate action.
On Twitter, the group announced that Pelosi's time was up and that at least 20 young activists would occupy the speaker's Washington, D.C. office until she meets with them.
\u201cTime is up! Last Monday, we asked @SpeakerPelosi for a 1hr on-camera meeting - otherwise we Hunger Strike. \n\nShe ignored us. So in less than 24 hours, Hunger Strikers will occupy her office. How long will she let us go hungry? \n\n#GlobalHungerStrike #ExtinctionRebellion\u201d— Extinction Rebellion Washington DC (@Extinction Rebellion Washington DC) 1574014552
Extinction Rebellion live-streamed the demonstration on social media.
\u201c#ExtinctionRebellion Hunger Strikers just arrived at Nancy Pelosi\u2019s office. Send your support with #GlobalHungerStrike https://t.co/yRocVMvFQ9\u201d— Extinction Rebellion Washington DC (@Extinction Rebellion Washington DC) 1574096441
Giovanni Tamacas, an organizer of the hunger strike, read from a letter sent to Pelosi as the action began Monday.
"We won't be patronized by a meeting with your staff, or a meeting in the distant future, or a five minute conversation, or an impromptu talk," the letter reads. "Meet with us or leave us to starve while you jet to your Thanksgiving feasts and cocktail parties in the glow of a burning world. It is with a heavy heart that we will deny ourselves our basic needs. May our pain finally sound the alarm."
\u201c#ExtinctionRebellion Global Hunger Strike starts tomorrow.\n\nHumanity is at a crossroads. We either unite to mitigate ecological and #ClimateBreakdown or we face widespread social collapse.\n\nFull video > https://t.co/9oAhXWCTLg\n\n#ThisIsNotADrill #GlobalJustice\u201d— Extinction Rebellion UK \ud83c\udf0d (@Extinction Rebellion UK \ud83c\udf0d) 1573993708
The group rebuked Pelosi for "turning a blind eye" to the rapidly warming climate, wildfires raging throughout her home state, melting glaciers, and millions of climate refugees even as she says in speeches that "there is no time left to deny the reality of climate change."
Despite that rhetoric, Extinction Rebellion said, Pelosi has hamstrung attempts to push for wide-reaching climate legislation by creating a congressional committee that has no subpoena power or ability to draft bills. Pelosi herself has not joined more than 100 members of Congress in co-sponsoring Green New Deal legislation, which is supported by a majority of Americans, including 86 percent of Democratic voters, according to recent polling.
"With all due respect, you have failed."
--Extinction Rebellion"Every day the evidence piles up at your desk, but you have yet to pass even symbolic legislation recognizing the climate crisis as a national emergency," Extinction Rebellion wrote. "With all due respect, you have failed."
Extinction Rebellion's demands--conveyed over the last several months at rallies where attendees have spent weeks occupying public spaces, at nurse-ins in London, and now with the hunger strike--are that government leaders "tell the truth" about the climate by declaring a climate emergency; commit to passing legislation that would reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025; and establish a citizens' assembly on climate justice to center the concerns of frontline communities.
"Humanity is at a crossroads. We either unite to prevent climate and ecological collapse, or this nation and global society will fall to pieces," wrote the group to Pelosi, echoing the warnings of Pentagon experts as well as 11,000 scientists around the world.
As the strike at Pelosi's office began Monday morning, organizers handed out vitamins and nutritional supplements to the campaigners.
\u201cRight now: activists with @XRebelDC @ExtinctionR are taking supplements in preparation for an attempted hunger strike at Nancy Pelosi\u2019s office.\n\nThe #ExtinctionRebellion activists say they\u2019ll be demanding a sit-down meeting with Pelosi where they will push her on climate action.\u201d— Ford Fischer (@Ford Fischer) 1574094741
In New York, four students also began a hunger strike at Columbia University, demanding to know why the university has not joined a number of colleges, cities, and financial institutions in divesting from fossil fuels under pressure from activists.
\u201c4 students start their hunger strike @Columbia for the next 5 days or until their demands are met https://t.co/H1lKWPzZdu\n\n"Tell us why Columbia\u2019s $11,000,000,000 endowment continues to fund climate death through its investment in fossil fuels."\n\nR/T & Share!\n#ExtinctionRebellion\u201d— Extinction Rebellion NYC \ud83c\udf0e (@Extinction Rebellion NYC \ud83c\udf0e) 1574089502
More than 300 people worldwide are taking part in the hunger strike, according to Extinction Rebellion. In England, 10 strikers assembled outside the Conservative Party headquarters.
\u201c"This has to be the climate election. If it's not about the climate emergency we're doomed."\n\nDr. Larch Maxey from Totnes is one of 10 people on hunger strike outside Conservative HQ today. \n\nHe plans to fast for a week.\n\n#ExtinctionRebellion @LarchMaxey\n\nhttps://t.co/OkLdCrye0w\u201d— Extinction Rebellion Totnes (@Extinction Rebellion Totnes) 1574087972
On social media, climate action advocates expressed support for the hunger strikers.
\u201cHunger strikes now. @SpeakerPelosi what\u2019s it going to take to treat this like the emergency it is? Your citizens are starving themselves.\u201d— Buffy Summers \u2615\ufe0f\ud83e\uddcb\ud83e\ude70\ud83d\ude83\ud83d\uddfd\ud83c\udfec\ud83c\udfe2\ud83c\udf03 (@Buffy Summers \u2615\ufe0f\ud83e\uddcb\ud83e\ude70\ud83d\ude83\ud83d\uddfd\ud83c\udfec\ud83c\udfe2\ud83c\udf03) 1574088828
"Gratitude to all in Extinction Rebellion who are beginning their hunger strikes today," organizers tweeted. "Let's hope it communicates the desperate need to act now on ecocide and the climate emergency to Speaker Pelosi and other legislators before it really is too late."
"It's already too late for so many," the group added.
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