By Monday, the fence was gone. And young climate protesters said they hoped those leaders back at work could hear them cheering for climate legislation outside. Demonstrators often target the Capitol and nearby congressional office buildings for protests that end with arrests, and a Capitol Police spokesperson declined to comment on security precautions for this demonstration.
The 13 protesters arrested outside the Hart and Dirksen Senate office buildings around 11 a.m. Monday were all charged with “crowding, obstructing, or incommoding,” a Capitol Police spokesperson wrote in an email.
The Students’ March on Congress for Climate Action began 9 a.m. Monday at Washington Circle before winding its way toward the Capitol, organizers said. They estimated about 80 people joined the march, including local college and high school students, activists and community members from throughout the region, calling for funding the first-ever Civilian Climate Corps, a federally funded initiative that includes employing young people to fight climate change, and investing in renewable energy, public schools, public housing and citizenship for people who are undocumented.
The protesters held a yellow banner asking Democrats: “Which side are you on?” They held signs saying “for the air we breathe” and wore shirts that said “Green New Deal,” while a handful linked arms and stood in front of entrances to the Dirksen and Hart buildings, photos show. They were demanding that Democrats refuse to compromise on budget reconciliation, a process that would allow Democrats to pass more dramatic climate legislation without Republican support.
“Last year it was young people like us that came out in record historic numbers to give Democrats Congress and elected Joe Biden,” said Tara Stumpfl, a 20-year-old George Washington University junior and her university chapter’s hub coordinator for the Sunrise Movement. “They were elected on a very clear mandate to act on climate and they need to now deliver on their campaign promises.”