People Vs. Fossil Fuels: Biden’s Test
October 11-15, 2021
President Biden has a choice to make: Will he side with the people or a handful of fossil fuel executives? It’s a test with results that will determine the future of our planet and the wellbeing of future generations that will inhabit it. We are putting our bodies on the line to ensure President Biden passes this crucial test.
As we face the worsening climate emergency, frontline communities have been fighting the fossil fuel projects which threaten their health and homes for generations. While our government has largely ignored their demands, climate chaos has intensified across the globe. The Glasgow UN climate summit in November is the “last, best chance” for our government to change course and ensure a just, renewable energy future for all of us.
From October 11-15, we will gather in DC for the largest civil disobedience action in decades, demanding President Biden use his executive authority to hasten the end of the era of fossil fuels.
Actions will take place every day between October 11 and 15, starting at 8am at McPherson Square. Nonviolent direct action trainings and legal briefings will be held each evening at 6pm, starting October 10.
Please do your best to make your own travel arrangements as soon as possible. We won’t be able to provide transportation or housing assistance for everyone, so start looking into options now. We will try to make travel to DC accessible and easy for as many people as we can, but will prioritize frontline leaders as well as historically marginalized people and communities.
All components of the actions — trainings the night before and the start of the actions themselves — will be at McPherson Square in downtown DC. The McPherson Square Metro station is on the orange, blue, and silver lines; Farragut North (red line) is also very close by.
Message board: If you’re looking to connect with others to arrange transportation or housing in DC, you can use this free message board. The message board will be minimally moderated, and you are responsible for using your best judgement when making arrangements.
If you have any questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Transportation to DC
Carpools: To find or arrange a carpool, please visit this site: https://www.groupcarpool.com/t/di3b4c
Charter Busses: We hope to arrange for buses from several major cities within an 8-hour drive of DC. Check back regularly for an updated list. If you are organizing a bus, please email email@example.com to have it listed here.
Housing in DC
All of the free group housing options in DC (like church basements) are unavailable due to COVID. We put together this guide to make your arrangements a bit easier.
We understand that paying for two nights of housing in DC is a sacrifice and an expense. If you can afford it, please come and participate in this action to end the era of fossil fuels. If you need inspiration, read this invitation from leaders in our movement.
Options and Suggestions: these are all independent services, so you are responsible for using your best judgement when booking and interacting with businesses or hosts.
Getting Around DC
DC’s Metro is one of the busiest public transportation systems in the country. Trains and busses connect all four quadrants of DC along with suburban Virginia and Maryland. Here’s a map of train routes, and a map of bus routes.
Bike Share Rentals: Capital Bikeshare is one of the largest bike-share systems in the country, and makes it easy to rent wheels and zip around town for an hour or a day. There are over 3,000 bikes and 300 stations around town. Learn more and reserve bikes here.
Parking in DC
Like any major city, parking in DC can be a challenge. If you’re driving to DC for the action, you’ll want to leave your car or van in a place where it could be parked overnight if necessary for the day that you participate in civil disobedience.
Answer: We are demanding that President Biden stop approving fossil fuel projects and declare a climate emergency right now, ahead of the United Nations climate summit in November. We cannot end the climate crisis without ending the fossil fuel era. There’s no safe way to extract, transport or refine fossil fuels without harm to people or without fueling the climate emergency.
For decades, Indigenous communities, farmers, landowners and climate activists have had to play whack-a-mole against the latest dangerous fossil fuel project. Pipelines like Line 3 and Dakota Access violate treaty rights. Petrochemical facilities like the proposed Formosa plastics plant would double down on environmental racism in Louisiana’s infamous “Cancer Alley.”
Here’s the good news: Biden can stop all these projects and direct his administration to say no more fossil fuels, period. Read more about our demands for President Biden here.
Answer: This is not a single “day of action”, but instead a wave of action from October 11th – 15th that will involve civil disobedience to put sustained pressure and a bigger spotlight on our demands. If that involves risking arrest, we are prepared and willing to take that risk and deal with the consequences. We believe that the risks of inaction are far greater than the risks of taking action.
Answer: Civil disobedience has been used as a tactic in many struggles for justice, including in many campaigns to stop fossil fuel projects. While there are many actions we can take to bring about change, nonviolent civil disobedience is uniquely effective at focusing attention on a problem, inspiring others to take action, and forcing decision makers to respond to our demands. When sustained over multiple days, the impact of nonviolent civil disobedience is even greater.
We expect people to remain civil and peaceful, acting in a dignified manner that is as serious as these issues are. Our intent is to send the message that these issues are so urgent and serious that we are willing to risk arrest, if necessary, to stand in solidarity with Mother Earth and the communities most impacted by the climate emergency.
So far, despite hearing from thousands of us across the country, President Biden and the White House haven’t stopped dangerous fossil fuel projects like Line 3 and have continued to issue permits for thousands of new oil and gas wells. The People vs. Fossil Fuels action alone won’t guarantee the Biden administration changes course, but it’s hard to imagine winning the swift transition off fossil fuel production that science and justice demands without thousands of people participating in nonviolent civil disobedience.
Answer: Short answer, no. To participate, you should plan to be in DC for three consecutive days – one for travel and training, one for the action, and one for any potential legal issues. When you sign up, please indicate which days you plan to be in DC, so that we know how many people to expect for our training sessions.
COVID is still a major public health issue, and the variants are particularly concerning. The organizers of this action will do their best to limit risk throughout the action and trainings, but we cannot eliminate risk and we urge you to do what’s right for you and those you interact with closely. Following the advice of public health agencies, we know there are 3 keys to minimize the risk of contracting or spreading the virus: getting vaccinated, staying outdoors, and wearing a mask.
In order to participate in civil disobedience, you must be fully vaccinated and show proof of vaccination and matching photo ID (tribal or state issued). This is to ensure the safety of all participants and those you may come into contact with, as you may be held or transported in close quarters while in police custody. Trainings and the actions themselves will take place outdoors, and masks will be required throughout.
If you have not yet been vaccinated, you must receive your last shot no later than September 27, two weeks prior to the start of the action. If you would like to participate in the action, but don’t plan to be vaccinated due to cultural, religious, or medical circumstances, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: We are monitoring new developments and will be responsive in updating our protocol based on the latest guidance from public health experts.
Answer: Yes! Non-violent direct action training will be held nightly throughout the week. Attending one of these trainings is required in order to participate in civil disobedience, so plan to arrive to DC the day before you plan to take action. Check back for an updated schedule of trainings closer to the action.
Answer: A legal briefing will be provided to every participant as part of the training. While the specific details of our civil disobedience and potential arrests are still being worked out, we will make every effort to provide updates and answer questions as they come up. We absolutely cannot guarantee anything in the legal process, but there is a long tradition of civil disobedience in DC, and many of the organizers involved have experience with these types of actions.
Answer: Everyone is welcome! We understand that some people may not be able to participate in civil disobedience for a variety of reasons. We would still love to have you in DC as a supporter or volunteer.
Answer: Our focus is on mobilizing people to D.C. If you are unable to come to DC and would like to plan a solidarity event in your community, please let us know and we will do our best to support you. Volunteers are also needed to recruit and support others who are participating in DC.
We also encourage you to reach out to your friends, family, colleagues, church, or neighbors, and ask them to attend the action or support in whatever way they can.
From October 11-15, we will be planning a daily mass civil disobedience action in Washington DC.
Do not bring/wear:
We will gather every morning at McPherson Square. A light breakfast and coffee will be available for action participants starting at 7am. The action kick-off will be at 8am.
There will be a nightly action prep training and legal briefing from 6-8pm at McPherson Square from October 10-14. This training is required for anyone planning to participate in the civil disobedience action the following morning.
Yes! This action has a dedicated legal and jail support team which includes experienced organizers and trainers as well as lawyers with the National Lawyers Guild and Partnership for Civil Justice who have decades of experience representing activists in Washington DC.
On October 11-14, we will be taking action at the White House. All of the parks near the White House, including McPherson Square and Lafayette Park, are managed by National Park Services and under the jurisdiction of Park Police. The streets around the parks are under the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Police Department, commonly referred to as MPD, who are the “regular” DC police. Secret Service also has jurisdiction directly around the White House and will likely be present at our actions. Depending on the specific action and where it takes place, any of these agencies could arrest those participating in civil disobedience.
On October 15, we will be marching to the US Capitol, which is entirely under the jurisdiction of US Capitol Police.
Regardless of the arresting agency, the process will look generally the same. All of these agencies generally give three warnings before arrests take place, and clearly mark the area between those who are in violation of the law and those who are not with a line of police tape. Officers will come to arrest each person individually or in small groups, and either take you to a transport vehicle or an open-air processing area in a nearby park or other open area. The most likely scenario we expect, as long as participants follow the action agreements, have their legal state or tribal issued ID, and don’t have any outstanding warrants or open legal cases, is that you will be processed and released within a few hours of your arrest.
The worst-case scenario, which is unlikely, is that you could be held overnight and released after seeing a judge for arraignment the following day. DC does not have a cash-bail system and you will be released on your own recognizance, likely with another date to return to court.
Regarding the COVID risk from police interaction: it is likely that Capitol Police will process people outdoors and on-site. That’s the agency that would handle arrests on Friday. It is also possible (though less certain because there haven’t been recent examples) that arrests at the White House by Park Police or Secret Service would be outdoors and on-site. Further, all three of these departments are included in the federal employee vaccination and mask mandates.
There are 3 potential outcomes for a civil disobedience arrest in Washington DC:
“Post and Forfeit” – you post collateral (money, typically $50 per person) and forfeit that collateral and your right to a trial. This does not count as a conviction or a guilty plea. It does, however, show up on your record as an arrest.
For the purposes of most background checks and professional licensing, having an arrest for nonviolent civil disobedience on your record has no negative repercussions. Many people have taught in public schools, passed the Bar Exam, gone to graduate school, qualified for TSA Pre-check, etc, with a “post and forfeit” arrest on their records (or even multiple “post and forfeit” arrests).
You can also choose NOT to pay your “post and forfeit”, in which case you will be given a court date and follow the path described in scenario #2 below.
From October 11-15, we will be planning a daily mass civil disobedience action in Washington DC.
If you have these or other special circumstances, such as involvement in a child custody dispute, licensing issues needed for a security clearance, or participation in government programs such as public housing, you should consult a lawyer before engaging in action so you can understand your risk.