In a show of progressive power and solidarity that organizers hope will make President-elect Joe Biden take notice—and take action—a coalition of frontline Indigenous activists, union organizers, climate campaigners, and progressive lawmakers including members of the expanded Squad will hold a rally Thursday at Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C.
"[This] rally is a culmination of intensive and sustained organizing by labor, racial justice, environmental, Indigenous, and other groups to address racial injustice, the climate crisis, and economic justice in this moment of overlapping crises."
—Indigenous Environmental Network
Scheduled speakers for the event include Ta'Sina Smith of the Cheyenne River Grassroots Collective, as well as U.S. Reps. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), and Representative-elect Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.). All of the lawmakers are staunch supporters of the Green New Deal.
Keya Chatterjee of U.S. Climate Action Network, John Henry Williams of the Sunrise Movement, Margaret Kwateng of Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, and Jess Morales Rocketto of Care In Action are also set to address the socially-distanced rally.
A broad range of progressive organizations including Black Lives Matter Philadelphia, Center for Justice and Accountability, Climate Justice Alliance, Greenpeace, Indigenous Enironmental Network, Indivisible, Pueblo Action Alliance, and the Working Families Party plan to participate in the event.
Indigenous Environmental Network said in a statement that the event is a "bold action to address the interconnected crises of the [Covid-19] pandemic and the economic and climate threats facing our communities."
"This includes a corporate-free Cabinet and administration staffed with personnel committed to addressing the climate threat, as well as following through on promises made during the campaign," the organizers said.
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"[This] rally is a culmination of intensive and sustained organizing by labor, racial justice, environmental, Indigenous, and other groups to address racial injustice, the climate crisis, and economic justice in this moment of overlapping crises," they added.
On Tuesday, Greenpeace USA released its Just Recovery Agenda, which is packed with more than 100 policy recommendations for the Biden administration and the new Congress in service of prioritizing environmental and social needs over corporate greed.
While campaigning for president, Biden unveiled an ambitious $2 trillion plan to address the climate emergency that was lauded by green and progressive groups. However, critics say the former vice president—who repeatedly stressed he would not ban fracking—is off to a less than auspicious start, as he has staffed his incoming administration with or considered hiring fossil fuel-friendly figures including Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) and former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.
"Biden ran on a promise to act decisively to combat the climate crisis, signed a pledge not to let his campaign be unduly influenced by fossil fuel corporations or their money, and said leaders of fossil fuel companies would not be involved in his transition," Sunrise Movement executive director Varshini Prakash said of the president-elect's choice of Richmond—who has taken more donations from the fossil fuel industry during his congressional career than nearly any other Democrat. Richmond's hire, Prakash added, felt like "a betrayal."
Environmentalists are also alarmed that Biden is considering former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota for agriculture secretary.
"Heitkamp is the wrong choice for the USDA because she has aligned herself with corporate agribusiness at the expense of family farmers, supports fossil fuel interests, and holds views that are out of step with the Democratic Party and the majority of Americans," Friends of the Earth said in opposition to her possible appointment.