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.

Schedule

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.

  • Monday, October 11th: Indigenous Peoples Day.
  • Tuesday, October 12: Fossil fuels are driving the climate crisis.
  • Wednesday, October 13: Climate chaos is happening now.
  • Thursday, October 14: We need real solutions, not false promises.
  • Friday, October 15: We did not vote for fossil fuels. Youth-led action.

Logistics Guide

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 peoplevsfossilfuels@gmail.com.

Transportation to DC

Carpools: To find or arrange a carpool, please visit this site: https://www.groupcarpool.com/t/di3b4c 

    • If you’re planning to drive and have room in your vehicle, click the blue “Add” symbol on the left and enter your details. This will allow others to find you.
    • If you’re looking for a ride and don’t see a carpool from your area, you can add yourself to a waitlist using the button on the right.

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 dhudson@foe.org to have it listed here.

Commercial Transport

  • Plane: National Airport (DCA) is the best airport to get in and out of DC. Baltimore (BWI) and Dulles (IAD) are the other options but are further away and less accessible by public transit. Click here for more information on flying to DC.
  • Bus: Most busses arrive to DC at Union Station, which is centrally located and also a stop on the Metro train. Mega BusGreyhoundBolt BusBest BusPeter Pan, and Virginia Breeze all have service to and from DC.
  • Train: Train service to DC is available from most major cities, and all trains arrive at Union Station. Check the Amtrak website for schedules and routes.

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.

  • McPherson Square (orange, blue, silver lines) will be your destination for the training and actions. Farragut North (red line) is also very close by.
  • A SmarTrip fare card is the easiest way to get on and off Metro, you can purchase one in advance here or at many locations around DC.

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.

  • Metro operates parking facilities at 44 Metrorail stations, including multi-day parking at 4 stations. All that info is here: https://www.wmata.com/service/parking/   
  • ParkWhiz has a tool to find paid parking availability in the city: ​​https://www.parkwhiz.com/p/washington-dc-parking/map/ 
  • SpotHero is another tool to help find parking options: https://spothero.com/city/washington-dc-parking 
  • DC also has street parking in most neighborhoods, and some areas are unzoned and don’t have time limits. Pay close attention to posted signs, as most parking spots have restricted hours. Parking restrictions are strictly enforced and violators may find a parking ticket on their windshield (or worse, towed).

Frequently asked questions

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 peoplevsfossilfuels@gmail.com.

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. 

Answer: Yes! There will be volunteer roles for people who live in DC or who are coming to DC, as well as for those who will be supporting from afar. Please sign up here.  

Legal FAQ

From October 11-15, we will be planning a daily mass civil disobedience action in Washington DC.

How to Prepare Yourself

  • Dress in comfortable layers and comfortable shoes. You want to be prepared for various weather, and could be in those clothes for many hours. 
  • Start hydrating yourself the night before by drinking lots of water.
  • Make sure you’ve eaten a good meal that won’t upset your stomach, and that you’ve used the bathroom. You might not have another chance to use the bathroom for a few hours during the arrest process. 
  • Anything you have on you at the time of your arrest will be searched and catalogued by police. You will likely get your belongings back upon release, or will have to pick them up the following day.

Bring:

  • Your ID – preferably a driver’s license, tribal ID, or other legal ID with your address on it, but a passport also works if you don’t have a state ID. Your ID should be current (not expired)
  • $50 cash for your post and forfeit, plus your SmarTrip card or cash for the bus, metro, or taxi when you get out.
  • Any prescription medication you might need over the course of a 12-hour period. Prescriptions must be in the official prescription bottle labeled with your name. It is a good idea to also bring the original prescription from your doctor. 
  • Bring a protein bar to eat just as the arrests are beginning to help carry you through.

Do not bring/wear:

  • Jewelry, and especially not anything expensive or delicate
  • Any illegal drugs or controlled substances (while marijuana is legal in DC, it is still illegal on federal grounds, including all of the parks around the White House and Capitol Hill)
  • Any weapons or anything that could be construed as a weapon (pocket knives, leathermans, etc)
  • Anything else that you don’t want in the possession of police
  • Open-toed shoes and skirts/dresses are not recommended

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:

  1. The most common outcome is that those arrested are processed and released after a few hours and given a “post and forfeit.” This is a special way that police agencies in DC deal with nonviolent civil disobedience arrests, which basically treats your arrest as the equivalent of a traffic violation, you pay your ticket, and there is no further legal followup. 

“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.

  1. If you are not offered a “post and forfeit”, the next most likely outcome is a “citation and release” where you will be processed and released after a few hours and assigned a court date. Court dates are mandatory and may be either virtual or in-person (depending on where things are at with the pandemic and court scheduling). The first court date is your arraignment, where you’re told the charges against you, and typically assigned at least one more additional court date. If you are given a court date, you should expect to have to return to DC for 2-3 court dates. Charges could be dropped before or during your arraignment, or you could be offered a deferment at this point, where you would agree to do a certain number of hours of community service, pay a small fine, and commit to not getting arrested again for a set period of time.

  2. The worst case scenario is that you are held overnight and have to see a judge for arraignment the following day. This scenario is more likely to occur if you have multiple previous arrests, any open cases or warrants, or if you forget your ID. DC has court every day, including weekends. Your charges could be dismissed before you see a judge or during your arraignment, or you could get arraigned and given a subsequent court date. Either way, DC does not have a cash bail system and you’ll be released on your own recognizance as long as you don’t have any serious outstanding warrants (in any jurisdiction).

Frequently Asked Questions regarding higher risks situations

From October 11-15, we will be planning a daily mass civil disobedience action in Washington DC.

  • Individuals who are juveniles (under 18) will be separated from the group and taken to the Juvenile facility in SW Washington, and can only be released to a parent or a guardian with a signed guardian form by your parents. Juveniles will also have to go to court and will be processed through the regular juvenile justice process, there are no special accommodations or systems for nonviolent civil disobedience arrests like there are for adults.
  • People who are not U.S. citizens risk being held longer. It is important to talk to an immigration lawyer before taking action to understand your risks.
  • If you have a pending criminal case in Washington, DC, you can be held in police custody until your court date. If you have a pending criminal case in another jurisdiction, you should speak to a lawyer before taking action to understand your risk. 
  • If you have an outstanding warrant, you may face more serious charges and higher penalties. We encourage people to resolve their warrants before risking arrest. If you are arrested and they find the warrant, you will be held by the police and could be extradited to the jurisdiction of that warrant. 
  • If you have prior felony convictions, there is an increased chance that you will be held overnight and have to see a judge the next day.
  • If you are transgender or gender non-conforming, the police are supposed to respect your gender identity and process you accordingly, though there are no guarantees. 

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.

Share this: