First Trial of Declare Emergency Climate Demonstrators Results in Dismissal

First Trial of Declare Emergency Climate Demonstrators Results in Dismissal

August 16, 2022

(Washington DC) Charges have been dismissed against two citizens with Declare Emergency, arrested December 10, 2021 for blocking I-395 at New York Ave in Washington, DC. The two defendants support a group that calls for President Biden to declare a climate emergency. The dismissal is the first of numerous cases that will be heard and comes just one day before President Biden is expected to sign into law the $737 billion Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Included in this law is $370 billion for climate remediation. It will provide incentives for renewable energy, yet also opens up new federal land to oil and gas leases.

“My friend and I blocked roads in DC in resistance to our government’s criminal inaction on the climate emergency,” stated 27-year-old defendant Jonathan Tijerina of Washington DC. “I’m terrified for my future and the future of my two younger sisters, who recently had to evacuate their hometown in California because of a massive wildfire.”

Approximately two weeks after Declare Emergency’s fourth wave of nonviolent civil resistance actions in early July, including blocking the Washington beltway on July 4, the Washington Post and other publications reported that the President was considering declaring a climate emergency in the face of rising public pressure. Shortly after that, Senator Joe Manchin reversed course to support the bill.

“The government right now is refusing to declare a climate emergency. They’re refusing to end extraction on federal and Indigenous lands— this is unconscionable ,” says Donald Zependa, the other defendant in the trial. “These are low level asks. Right now it’s legal for our government to exacerbate the climate crisis. If you try to stop it, you’re going to risk arrest. That is the world we are living in.”

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