The Risk of Climate Catastrophe Is So Severe, We Had to Break the Law, Say Activists

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By Peter Rugh
March 2, 2015
Vice News

Eleven activists who took part in a peaceful sit-in against climate change in New York City's Financial District last fall have decided to move their protest into Manhattan's criminal court, refusing to pay fines for charges of disorderly conduct. The trial begins Monday and the group plans to argue in its defense that Wall Street, through its investments in fossil fuels, is the real harbinger of disorder.

Dubbed "Flood Wall Street" by organizers, several thousand people participated in the direct action on September 22, 2014 that shut down Broadway for eight hours, from its intersection with Wall Street down to Battery Park at the tip of Manhattan. The protest led to the arrest of one hundred and two people.

John Tarleton, editor of the monthly Indypendent newspaper, called the direct action "an exclamation mark" on the People's Climate March, a demonstration that drew an estimated 400,000 people and was the largest public protest expressing concern for climate change. Tarleton is one of the #Flood11 — an internet hashtag adopted by the activists.

Both gatherings occurred ahead of the UN Climate Summit on September 23rd, in which world leaders, including President Obama, referenced the mass protests. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, asked by reporters why he had allowed Flood Wall Street demonstrators — who did not possess a permit — to shut down such a large section of the city, said "the First Amendment is a little more important than traffic."

Going a step further, the #Flood11 contend that the threat of climate change is also more important than traffic.

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