Tag Archives: direct action

Direct Action for Climate Justice: Confronting False Solutions to Climate Change

by Anne Petermann,  Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project

23 August, 2012, Source: Daily Kos

Over August 9-12, fifty participants and trainers gathered in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom for a Climate Justice Direct Action Training Camp.  The camp, organized by Red Clover Climate Justice and co-sponsored by Global Justice Ecology Project provided essential direct action skills including formation of affinity groups, blockading tactics, legal rights as a protester, a history of non-violent civil disobedience, strategic planning for direct action, and the nuts and bolts of media work to ensure actions and their messages are seen as widely as possible.

Climate justice involves taking real and just action to address the root causes of the climate crisis, and transforming the system that is driving it. Direct action has a rich history of achieving the unthinkable, of changing “the impossible.” It is defined as action to directly shut down the point of production.  In the case of climate change, it would be action to shut down the point of destruction.  With the climate crisis worsening exponentially with every passing day, shutting down the point of destruction is critical.

It was with this in mind that the direct action training camp was organized.  Coincidentally, it came just two weeks after the 36th Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers in Burlington, Vermont.  A major focus of that conference was energy.  Vermont, which has an image of pristine greenness, relies on dangerous and dirty energy sources.  This includes its aging Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant; hydroelectricity from massive dams on Indigenous Peoples’ lands in northern Quebec; and large-scale biomass electricity, which dumps more pollution into the air than coal.

Although these various mega-projects do not rely on fossil fuels as the main source of their energy, they are still “false solutions.”  They cause vast ecological and social destruction and can worsen the climate crisis.  Their primary function, in fact, has nothing to do with the climate.  It is to maintain business as usual.  While the climate crisis demands a radical re-think of how we live on and with the Earth, a fundamental changing of the system, “false solutions” are specifically designed to prevent real change.  They enable the Global Elite–“the 1%” –to maintain their power and profits in the face of mounting social and ecological crises.

Activists disrupt the Northeast Governors’ Conference cruise in protest of Hydro-Quebec.  Photo: Will Bennington

Hydro-Quebec plans to build a series of new mega-dams on First Nations land in northern Quebec. They will drown forests, pollute fresh water, and displace villages and release huge amounts of methane–a greenhouse gas 35 times more potent than CO2.
In response, a delegation of Innu people came to the Governors’ Conference to raise awareness about and protest these new mega-dams. When the Innu delegation tried to enter the Governors’ Conference to speak with the decision-makers, however, they were refused entry.

The Governors’ Conference was emblematic of the unjust system that must be changed if we are to successfully address the climate crisis.  A group of privileged white males sat down to make decisions that would irrevocably impact the lives of First Nations peoples in Canada, as well as rural communities throughout the region.
Continue reading

Comments Off on Direct Action for Climate Justice: Confronting False Solutions to Climate Change

Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, Events, False Solutions to Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Political Repression, Pollution, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Solutions, UNFCCC

Kent State survivors seek new probe of 1970 shootings

Note: Forty-two years ago today, US National Guardsmen opened fire on unarmed students at Kent State University who were protesting the Vietnam War and its expansion into neighboring Cambodia.  Four were killed and nine wounded.  Justice has never been served to the victims of this atrocity.

Four decades later, the US is sending men and women overseas to fight wars for oil at the same time that the very life-support systems of the planet are on the verge of a complete meltdown from fossil fuel-induced global warming and its resulting climate chaos.  These wars enable the 1% to continue their grossly unsustainable lives of privilege at the expense of the rest.

After the Kent State massacre, students rose up across the country.  Hundreds of colleges and universities were shut down by student protests and outrage.

Today the stakes are higher than ever.  Can we share and  learn from the experiences of the movements from the 1960s and encourage a new era of global direct action–a new era of outrage?

The 1% will not change with niceties, permitted marches or orchestrated mass-arrests.  They will not change through the corporate-owned electoral process.  As Frederick Douglass pointed out:

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

I would add to this that it is not enough merely to demand.  The demands must be backed up by action: action in the form of general strikes, student shut downs and the total obstruction of business as usual.  After all, it is literally our future that is at stake.

–Anne Petermann for the GJEP Team

Cross-Posted from Reuters

FILE PHOTO 4MAY70 - Students dive to the ground as the Ohio National Guard fires on faculty and students at Kent State University in this May 4, 1970 file photo. MMR/AA
 By Kim Palmer

KENT, Ohio | Thu May 3, 2012 11:23pm EDT

(Reuters) – Survivors of the shooting of 13 students by the Ohio National Guard during an anti-war demonstration at Kent State University in 1970 called on Thursday for a new probe into the incident that came to define U.S. divisions over the Vietnam War.

Four students were killed and nine wounded in the shootings on May 4, 1970 that followed days of demonstrations on the campus after disclosures of a U.S.-led invasion of Cambodia that signaled a widening of the war in Southeast Asia.

Kent State was shut for weeks after the shootings and student strikes closed down schools across the nation.

On the eve of the 42nd anniversary of the shootings, four students wounded that day asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate digitally enhanced audio evidence they believe proves an officer ordered the guardsmen to fire on the unarmed students.

A command to fire has never been proven and guardsmen said they fired in self-defense. Criminal charges were brought against eight guardsmen, but a judge dismissed the case. Wounded students and families of those slain later received a total of $675,000 after civil lawsuits.

The shootings also spawned an investigative commission, numerous books and Neil Young’s song, “Ohio,” which became an anti-war anthem. A Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of a teenage girl kneeling over the body of one of the slain students became an enduring image of the tragedy.

In 2010, Alan Canfora, one of the wounded students and director of the nonprofit Kent May 4 Center, asked the Justice Department to review the enhanced recording, which was taken 250 feet from the guardsmen when they fired their shots in 1970.

Canfora and other audio specialists say the enhanced recording shows a clear military order to fire seconds before the shooting. The troops fired 67 shots over 13 seconds.

A Justice Department official closed the matter last month, finding the recordings were still inconclusive.

Canfora, and other wounded students Dean Kahler, Thomas Grace and Joe Lewis, asked Holder on Thursday for a new probe, saying anyone involved in the shooting should be offered immunity to provide information. They asked any surviving guardsmen to come forward with information.

“I was an angry young man for a number of years,” Canfora said. “We have to work within the system. I’ve learned a lot since we were younger. I believe they were ordered to shoot us.”

Kahler, who has been paralyzed from the waist down since the shooting, told Reuters: “We want justice in a sense, to have the truth. It would be nice to know what actually happened.

If the United States does not open a new investigation, the May 4 group plans to appeal to the International Court of Justice, the U.N. Human Rights Council or the Inter-American Court of Human Rights Canfora said.

(Reporting by Kim Palmer; Editing by David Bailey and Peter Cooney)

Comments Off on Kent State survivors seek new probe of 1970 shootings

Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Political Repression

Video: Climate Justice Outcry! Dudes co-opt COP 17 final march

Note:  Nope, that headline is not from GJEP.  In fact it’s the title of one of the videos shot by the Media Co-op in Montreal during the Durban meetings of the UN climate negotiations.  Their Canadian network spans: The Dominion • Halifax • Vancouver • Montreal • Toronto.  There is a lot of controversy surrounding the action this video documents, including GJEP’s Anne Petermann’s scathing post on Friday “Showdown at the Durban Disaster: Challenging the ‘Big Green’ Patriarchy.”  GJEP and Anne are receiving many comments and emails, both pro and con on Anne’s article.  To those who disagree with Anne’s analysis:  please watch this.  To everyone else, let’s have a laugh, albeit a sad one, and resolve to up the ante for the people and the planet with concrete, meaningful action and analysis, and make Climate Justice! more than just two words to chant.  After Copenhagen COP 15, many of us lost a long time friend and comrade, Dennis Brutus: poet, scholar and  anti-apartheid activist.  If Dennis was still physically present, I believe he would have linked arms with Anne and Keith; Dennis knew what struggle meant. For more Media Co-op coverage of Durban, please go to http://mediacoop.ca/durban.  -Orin Langelle for the GJEP Team

Comments Off on Video: Climate Justice Outcry! Dudes co-opt COP 17 final march

Filed under Actions / Protest, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Climate Justice, False Solutions to Climate Change, Independent Media, Media

Global Justice Ecology Project Director Anne Petermann Ejected from COP17

Delegates from Mauritius, South Africa, and Elsewhere Expelled as Well

GJEP's Anne Petermann (right) and GEAR's Keith Brunner (both sitting) before their forced removal. Photo: Langelle/GJEP

December 9, 2011, Durban, South Africa – Civil society activists erupted into protest in the halls of the UN Climate Summit this afternoon, blocking the plenary halls and bursting into chants of “Climate Justice Now!”, “Don’t Kill Africa!”, “World Bank out of Climate Finance, “No Carbon Trading,” and “No REDD!” When UN Security began to remove the activists, Anne Petermann, Executive Director of GJEP, sat down. When she was asked to leave willingly, she refused to comply. While others were escorted out, Petermann, and GEAR’s Keith Brunner refused to go.  Brunner was carried out and Petermann was lifted into a wheelchair, and rolled out of the Conference Center.

Close by was Karuna Rana, a 23 year-old woman from Mauritius, who similarly refused to comply.

Crowd scene in the hallway. Photo: Langelle

Petermann sent the following statement to a press conference held by Climate Justice Now!, a coalition co-founded  in 2007 by Petermann and GJEP:

“I took this action today because I believe this process is corrupt, this process is bankrupt, and this process is controlled by the One percent. If meaningful action on climate change is to happen, it will need to happen from the bottom up. The action I took today was to remind us all of the power of taking action into our own hands. With the failure of states to provide human leadership, and the corporate capture of the United Nations process, direct action by the ninety-nine percent is the only avenue we have left.”

On hearing the news of Petermann’s expulsion, Flora Mmereki, of Botswana, who also took part in the spontaneous protest, said, “It really broke my heart seeing Anne taken out in a wheelchair, because she was acting for climate justice. It is so, so sad to see how they are treating people who stand up for humanity.”

Karuna Rana, at the action earlier in the day. Photo: Langelle

Karuna Rana, of Mauritius, is in Durban with a group of young journalists called Speak Your Mind. Runa, standing with Petermann in the rain at “Speaker’s Corner,” the Occupy site outside the Conference Center, explained her motivation: “I went to the protest action to take a picture, but I got emotionally empowered and I started to take part. I am the only young Mauritian here, so I found it my responsibility to speak on behalf of Mauritius, of small islands, and of global youth. I’m scared for my future. Mauritius is a small island state and it’s terribly unfair to have no voice in this process. If I did not take a stand, my voice would not have reached the negotiators.”

Petermann said, “We willingly took this action that cost us our credentials because we know that the only time to act is now. We hope that our refusal to move – our refusal to comply with the bankrupt UNFCCC process – will inspire others to take action in support of a new world – a transformed world that will be rooted in justice and in harmony with the earth.”

Emotions were high during the protest. Photo: Langelle

Petermann will sit out the rest of COP17 at the Speakers’ Corner, as global decision-makers come to the most likely outcome of these negotiations: a new non-binding legal framework, to begin in 2015, to begin voluntarily reducing emissions in 2020.

Local Desmond D’Sa, of South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, who was expelled as well, said, “We cannot wait for 2020, as that will result in millions being displaced or dying in poverty due to extreme climatic conditions.”

In other words, the talks have failed, the world powers are stalling for time, and the voice of civil society is locked out. Again.

Locked out, but for how long? Photo: Langelle


Filed under Actions / Protest, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Pollution, REDD, UNFCCC