Students arrested during New York climate protest
Nearly 50 Brandeis students protested in New York City two weekends ago to bring attention to issues of climate change and climate justice.
Abbie Goldberg ’16 was among those organizing transportation for students from Brandeis to the People’s Climate March in the city. There were 31 buses leaving from the Boston area through the Better Future Project to bring activists and demonstrators to New York. According to its website, the Better Future Project “accelerates the growth of a powerful grassroots movement to address the climate crisis and make stronger, healthier, and more resilient communities by advancing a rapid and responsible transition beyond fossil fuels.”
Iona Feldman ’17 was the campus coordinator for the People’s Climate March, meaning that he played a large role in organizing the buses from Brandeis to the march. He is a part of the Brandeis Divestment Campaign, an unrecognized club functioning as a part of Students for Environmental Action with the goal of encouraging the administration to divest from fossil fuel investments. Feldman worked with students and faculty across campus to publicize the event and reach as many groups as possible. Among the groups represented at the march were Students for Environmental Activism and the Brandeis Labor Coalition, as well as other social justice-focused groups.
Faculty involved in the march included Profs. Sabine von Mering (GRALL) and Gordon Fellman (SOC). Von Mering was involved with faculty outreach and encouraging students to attend, though she was not actually at the protests, while Fellman attended the march and also helped to encourage other members of the community to attend.
Various groups and interests were represented at the march, which drew over 400,000 activists from student and political organizations across the country. “It was great to see all of these people coming together to show that climate change is an issue—it’s not an issue just for environmentalists, [it’s] something that everyone should be concerned with,” Feldman said in an interview with the Justice.
A group of students attended the People’s Climate March in New York City two weeks ago.
Several Brandeis students stayed after the march to participate in a direct action movement, known as Flood Wall Street. Among them were Goldberg and Kristina Jacobs ’15. The movement itself had approximately 100 participants, 14 of whom were from the Boston area and nine of whom were either alumni or current Brandeis students, according to Goldberg. The participants gathered in Battery Park to hear speakers, including Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges and well-known Canadian author and climate activist Naomi Klein. Participants then left, all wearing blue, to march toward the Wall Street Bull, a well-known statue and tourist attraction.
Eventually they made it to the intersection of Wall Street and Broadway, where, after a short time fighting to get through police barricades, they came to the decision to sit down and stay either until the United Nations climate summit finished or until they were forcibly removed, according to Goldberg. The New York Police Department issued a dispersal order, and subsequently arrested many participants, including Goldberg and Jacobs, for obstructing vehicular traffic and refusing to disperse, according to Jacobs in an interview with the Justice. Seven other Brandeis students and alumni were also arrested.
Divestment continues to be an important issue for Feldman, Goldberg and Jacobs. “I think Brandeis should divest from fossil fuels. That is the essential goal of the campaign and I hope that it can be accomplished,” Jacobs said. The Student Union held a referendum on divestment in 2013, which resulted in an overwhelming support for divestment—78 percent of students who voted in the referendum were in favor of it. Goldberg said in an interview with the Justice that getting involved with the divestment campaign was exciting because she could “see it happening across Boston and across the country.”
Both Goldberg and Feldman have been arrested in the past while participating in protests for climate justice. In March 2014, they were both arrested outside of the White House while protesting the Keystone XL pipeline.
“We can’t be profiting from something that’s causing so much destruction,” Goldberg said about divestment. “My fate is entangled with the fates of so many people and lives everywhere.”