Why We're Going to ShutDownDC for Climate Justice on September 23rd

On September 23rd we’re coming together to #ShutDownDC to disrupt the systems that created and perpetuate the climate crisis. But a crisis of this magnitude has many different causes and it has many different consequences and all of us and our communities experience its effects in different ways.

Everyone taking action on September 23rd is coming together around our shared pledge of resistance and the set of demands put forward by the youth coalition that called us to action. But we’re also drawn to action by our own experiences and our own visions for the future.

We asked the affinity groups taking action on September 23rd to share a little about who they are and why they’re taking action. Here’s what they said:

Black Lives Matter

Who are you?

Black Lives Matter DC is a radical collective of Black infrastructure builders, artist, Movement Healers and strategists from the future, organizing in the here and now around two movement equations. These equations inform how we live as our highest selves while dismantling White Supremacy, Patriarchy, Capitalism, Imperialism and the role the state plays in supporting them. We believe Organized Resistance + Continual Healing + Consistent spaces for centering Black Joy = Liberations. The other side of the Equation is one we borrowed from the Buddist Peace Fellowship, Building+Blocking+Being. Our organized resistance BUILDS campaigns to dismantle systems of oppression while BUILDING liberated spaces, our healing spaces BLOCK oppressive beliefs and racial trauma while Building resilience, our centering of Black joy reminds us why we fight and let us BE resilient and free together, thereby making us stronger BUILDERS.

Why are you taking action? How does the climate crisis affect you and your affinity group?

We, Black Lives Matter DC, witness and experience the impact of climate change and

environmental racism on Black and Brown lives every day in DC and it is our duty to fight against the environmental racist injustice that is happening in our communities. At this moment Black and Brown communities, like Park Morton Apartments in Northeast and Greenleaf in Southwest DC, are leading the fight to ensure their public housing units are free of things like mold, asbestos, and lead paint. DC residents near Buzzard Point have resisted the fugitive dust emissions from the nearby industrial activity and the resulting high numbers of death from lower respiratory diseases in their community for decades to protect their homes, neighborhoods, and communities here in DC. Corporations that run the healthcare industry use our people’s diseases, pregnancies, injuries and old age to make a huge profit, while denying us our human right to health in Ward 7 and 8 which is East of the River in Washington DC is classified as a medical desert. At this present time there are no labor and delivery services East of the River. Our affinity group believes the time has come to value Black and Brown lives and our planet over and above racism and Capitalism. We believe that Environmental Justice is Racism Justice.

What do you have planned on September 23rd and how can people get involved? 

On Monday, September 23, BLM DC along with Local HealthCare Workers and national environmental justice activists and organizations, will converge on DC’s streets to #SHUTITDOWN bringing the whole city to a gridlocked standstill with the goal to force the federal government to start taking real tangible action toward addressing climate change. BLM DC knows that the issue of environmental justice is not separate from the systems of white supremacy, capitalism, patriarchy and colonialism, and trans and homophobia from which we seek to liberate Black people.

We will be centering local efforts by DC based organizations, whose campaigns might not have the traditional optics of being environmental justice related but are the crux and backbone of what will bring about true environmental justice, health and sustainability.

If you would like to Rise Up to resist environmental injustice of environmental sustainability for Black and non-Black People of Color POCs within DC, let us show up in solidarity, lock forces and show the state what grassroots organizing led by the most directly impacted around climate change and environmental justice sustainability looks like. Meet us at Folgers Park at 6:30 am 401 3rd St. SE, Washington, DC and Fight Back for Black and Brown oppressed people’s freedom.


Why are you taking action? How does the climate crisis affect you and your affinity group?

The climate catastrophe is intimately tied to US militarism and the two expand on each other cyclically. As climate breakdown gets worse, ecofascism rises, war over land resources will become more frequent, and water wars will become a daily part of our lives. In this way, the climate crisis will increase militarism if we don’t create a strongly antiwar culture.

Even worse, if we do not foster a strong antiwar resistance, the climate crisis, too, will get worse. As bad as regular air travel might be, an air force of planes is worse. As bad as normal daily car use might be, an army of tanks is worse. It’s no surprise, then, that the US military is the single largest carbon producer in the world. It’s not enough to greenify the military; the environmental degradation and devastation of war is in and of itself torturing Mother Earth. CODEPINK is in this action to fight back.

Extinction Rebellion Vegans 

Who are you?

We are the Vegan Affinity Group for XRDC.

Why are you taking action? How does the climate crisis affect you and your affinity group?

We need food – it sustains us, brings humans together and makes us happy. On the other hand, today’s industrial, animal-based food system is severely damaging our environment, ecosystems and communities and is a massive contributor to the climate crisis. Researchers estimate meat and feed production contribute 18 or even 51% to greenhouse gas emissions – more than the combined global exhaust of cars, planes, trains and shipping vessels. It is also a leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, habitat destruction and rainforest deforestation. Additionally, as climate change worsens food security, meat’s caloric and land use inefficiency means we can be doing way more to feed the world’s most vulnerable communities. As vegan and vegetarian members of XRDC, we are committed to climate justice and believe food can save the planet. Our vision is to dismantle the animal agriculture industry and replace it with sustainable, zero-emission and inclusive food systems that feed everyone.

Do you have any demands in addition to the five demands put forward by the youth coalition?

We will be a small, mobile group helping distribute homemade and community-donated vegan baked goods and sammies to demonstrators, passersby and those inconvenienced by the blockade. Join us on action day, or during our all-day Sunday, September 22nd bake off! Learn more by visiting the Facebook event or email us at xrdcvegans@protonmail.com.

Metro DC DSA & Labor for Climate Justice

Who are you?

We are the Metro D.C. chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America and members of Labor for Climate Justice. 

Why are you taking action? How does the climate crisis affect you and your affinity group?

As socialists, union members, and labor allies, we are taking action because our planet is being destroyed by corporate greed. 

In their relentless pursuit of profit, the CEOs, billionaires, and millionaires across the world are exploiting our natural resources at the expense of a livable Earth. Just 100 fossil fuel companies are responsible for 71% of global fossil fuel emissions. Companies in other industries cannot escape blame either. Workers at Amazon are planning to strike over Amazon’s tech contracts that help fossil fuel companies, along with the Amazon’s financial contributions to climate denying lobbyists and politicians. 

The working class often has no choice but to engage in otherwise “unsustainable” practices. Lack of public transit options force us to drive our cars to work. Stagnant wage growth means that we don’t have the disposable income to buy more expensive environmentally-friendly products. But corporations have a choice. And they’ve chosen greed. 

When it comes to climate change, we’ve already seen how insatiable greed harms the working-class first. For at-risk communities around the world, climate change isn’t just a problem we need to solve for the future. It’s happening right now. After each recent supercharged natural disaster, the poor have borne the brunt of climate change misery, while the billionaires and millionaires save themselves (and continue to emit more carbon than anyone else). 

There are also many intersectional elements to climate change. For instance, communities of color are often forced to live in vulnerable or environmentally-compromised areas and have received disproportionately less support during disaster recovery. The effects of climate change make existing gender disparities even worse. It’s difficult to deny that we are fast approaching the new normal of “climate apartheid.”    

Corporations and the wealthiest few across the globe would have us believe that the climate status quo is sustainable. They peddle the myth of this sustainability by funding politicians, think tanks, and front groups to deny the reality of climate change. But we know that they want to maintain the status quo because they profit from the status quo. 

We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to overhaul this destructive system before we are locked in to a climate catastrophe. It is time to put people and the planet before profit.

Starting with a Green New Deal, we can transform our energy sector, build green, resilient infrastructure, and regenerate the natural world. We will put millions of people to work in good paying jobs with Medicare for All and free education to empower the next generation of leaders. This is our opportunity, starting now, to build a sustainable and just future for all.  

Do you have any demands in addition to the five demands put forward by the youth coalition?

As we are a diverse affinity group of several political tendencies, we are united by the demands of the youth climate activists. We want to emphasize the demand for a Green New Deal in particular, along with a just transition to a green economy powered by good union jobs. 

What do you have planned on September 23rd and how can people get involved?

Our group will engage in non-violent civil disobedience near a major corporation in D.C. We are planning to set up a climate crisis cafe somewhere in the city. If you see us, please stop by for a cup of coffee! We’ll be wearing red. 

People of Faith

Why are you taking action? How does the climate crisis affect you and your affinity group?

I am taking action to call attention to the urgent crisis of ecological disruption that humanity is unleashing upon other life on earth. People of different beliefs hold our earth as sacred rather than a 1 time use plastic item that will be thrown into a garbage dump.

Do you have any demands in addition to the five demands put forward by the youth coalition?

We call on all people of faith and those who are humanist to reject greed, modern consumerism, commoditization, and self-indulgence, for the sake of all life and the future of humanity. We thank fossil fuels for helping us reduce poverty and promoting a high quality of life for many, but this has come at a great cost, and fossil fuels must be left in the ground and our wasteful practices must end.

What do you have planned on September 23rd and how can people get involved? 

People of Faith after some morning blockades will gather at Luther’s Place on Thomas Circle at 14th and Massachusetts Ave at 9:30. Will slowly process through the city visiting congregations and polluters to make it clear that fossil fuels must be shut down.

World Beyond War

Who are you?

World BEYOND War is a global nonviolent movement to end war and establish a just and sustainable peace.

We aim to create awareness of popular support for ending war and to further develop that support. We work to advance the idea of not just preventing any particular war but abolishing the entire institution.

We strive to replace a culture of war with one of peace in which nonviolent means of conflict resolution take the place of bloodshed.

Why are you taking action? How does the climate crisis affect you and your affinity group?

War and preparations for war are not just the pit into which trillions of dollars that could be used to prevent environmental damage are dumped, but also a major direct cause of that environmental damage.

The U.S. military is one of the biggest polluters on earth. Since 2001, the U.S. military has emitted 1.2 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases, equivalent to the annual emissions of 257 million cars on the road. The U.S. Department of Defense is the largest institutional consumer of oil ($17B/year) in the world, and the largest global landholder with 800 foreign military bases in 80 countries. By one estimate, the U.S. military used 1.2 million barrels of oil in Iraq in just one month of 2008. One military estimate in 2003 was that two-thirds of the U.S. Army’s fuel consumption occurred in vehicles that were delivering fuel to the battlefield.

A major motivation behind many wars is the desire to control resources that poison the earth, especially oil and gas. In fact, the launching of wars by wealthy nations in poor ones does not correlate with human rights violations, or lack of democracy, or threats of terrorism, or scarcity of resources, but does strongly correlate with the presence of oil.

As the environmental crisis worsens, thinking of war as a tool with which to address it threatens us with the ultimate vicious cycle. Declaring that climate change causes war misses the reality that human beings cause war, and that unless we learn to address crises nonviolently we will only make them worse.

Do you have any demands in addition to the five demands put forward by the youth coalition?

Immediately move half the $1.25 trillion spent annually on militarism by the U.S. government to fund a Green New Deal, including a just transition for all workers impacted.


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