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Denouncing Corporate Climate Profiteers, Comedy Icon Lily Tomlin Arrested at #FireDrillFriday Protest in DC

This week's civil disobedience organized by Jane Fonda came as youth activists took to streets worldwide for the final #FridaysForFuture protests of the year.

Lily and Jane

Actors and activists Lily Tomlin (L) and Jane Fonda (R) hold hands as they lead a climate protest on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C on Dec. 27, 2019. (Photo: Eva Hambach/AFP via Getty Images)

Octogenarian actor and comedian Lily Tomlin was arrested Friday on Capitol Hill for participating in the weekly climate-focused civil disobedience campaign launched in October by her longtime friend and co-star Jane Fonda.

Video clips of 80-year-old Tomlin being arrested quickly circulated on social media with the campaign's hashtag, #FireDrillFriday:

Each week, a Thursday night teach-in along with a Friday rally and protest on the steps of the Capitol building have a different theme related to the climate crisis. This week centered on, in the words of Fonda, the "fight to save our forests that are being cut down and burned to make way for cattle grazing, mono-culture planting of soy and palm oil trees, among other crops."

Speakers at Friday's rally included Hana Heineken of Rainforest Action Network; Gaurav Madan, senior forests and land campaigner at Friends of the Earth U.S.; Rolando Navarro, a renewable natural resources engineer and fellow at the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL); Rolf Skar, senior campaign strategist for Greenpeace USA; and Alfred Brownell, a Liberian lawyer and recipeint of the Goldman Environmental Prize.

Tomlin—who appeared alongside Fonda in the film 9 to 5 and currently stars in the Netflix series Grace and Frankie with her—also joined Fonda at the rally. As Entertainment Weekly noted, she is far from the first celebrity friend of Fonda to be arrested: "Sally Field, Ted Danson, Rosanna Arquette, Catherine Keener, Diane Lane, Paul Scheer, and fellow Grace and Frankie stars Sam Waterston and June Diane Raphael have all participated in the peaceful protests and been taken in by police as a result."

According to Deadline, Tomlin told the crowd that "we have got to stop hugging and start saving the trees." She reportedly called out the company BlackRock for investing in firms that are responsible for deforestation and immigration detention camps, and said that immigrants at such camps include "climate refugees."

"These corporations are making oodles of money on the front end, oodles of money on the back end," Tomlin said. "It is beyond reprehensible."

Fonda, who has led the events for 12 consecutive weeks, said at the rally that the next two weeks will focus on "shaming the companies that are underwriting the fossil fuel industry."

When Fonda kicked off Fire Drill Fridays in October, she pointed to Naomi Klein's book On Fire: The Burning Case for the Green New Deal and the activism of Greta Thunberg—the 16-year-old Swede whose solitary protests sparked an international movement of youth climate strikers—as her inspiration.

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Thunberg, who recently returned to Sweden after traveling to the United States and parts of Europe for climate summits and actions, was out in the streets Friday for her 71st week of demonstrating to demand that governments and global bodies pursue bolder policies to battle the climate emergency.

Other young people across the globe also turned out for the final #FridaysForFuture protests of the year:

Some young demonstrators called out the government of Australia for what critics have described as its inadequate response to bushfires that continue to devastate parts of the country.

"We are still fighting and we will not stop for the holidays," tweeted a Fridays for Future group in Limerick, Ireland. "We stand in solidarity with the people currently suffering from a negligent leader during a time of crisis in Australia."

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