They tear gassed moms. And then the Mayor. Ban Tear Gas Now.

The use of tear gas is illegal in war. But in the last few weeks, it’s been used so often to disperse protests in the US that many of you can probably recognize the smell at a distance, and know exactly what it looks like in a photo or video.

In Portland, Trump’s storm troopers fire it nightly into the “wall of Moms” peacefully protecting everyone’s children out protesting (the crowds have included babies, toddlers, and lots of young adults). In one memorable incident last week, the mayor of Portland, Ted Wheeler, was tear gassed outside the federal courthouse right in the middle of an interview.

Nor is this just a problem with federal agents, or only in Portland. Tear gas has been used more, and in more places, in the last few months than ever before in American history. This isn’t just a danger to protesters, it’s a danger to the right to protest. And it’s past time that we banned its use on our streets. Sign our petition to state and local leaders demanding they ban tear gas NOW.

Tear gas is not safe. It has been found to cause long-term health consequences, and intense burning pain in the eyes, throat, lungs, skin and mucous membranes. In some cases, it can cause an asthma attack — potentially leading to asphyxiation or death. When a canister detonates, it can also cause serious burn injuries. When they’re fired into crowds (which is usually the case) tear gas canisters have caused severe head injuries.

This would be enough of a problem in normal times, but now, use of tear gas in the midst of a respiratory pandemic threatens to worsen the coronavirus, along with racial disparities in its spread.

Doctors, nurses and disease experts have warned that dousing crowds with these kind of chemical agents will accelerate the spread of coronavirus. And in a season of mass demonstrations against police brutality and structural racism, the frequent use of these tactics raises fears that police are trying to worsen a pandemic that has already taken a disproportionate toll on Black and brown Americans.

Sign and send the petition to your Governor: Demand a ban on the use of tear gas by the police immediately.

Your Mayor can Defund the police – and they should

For the last few weeks, we’ve been telling you about why we support the demands of the Movement for Black Lives, including and especially the demand to Defund the Police. But the truth is that most of us can’t defund the police ourselves:

Not by voting in local elections (some sheriffs are elected, but not most police chiefs or officers); not by calling and writing Congress (some police are paid or mandated by Congress, but most are locally controlled); And not by marching in the streets, protesting, singing, or taking artistic action (though you can and should do all that as you are able, as we’ve been saying)

The decision about whether to defund the police, and how to re-invest that money in actual community safety, rests with Mayors and city councils across America. And that’s why we’re asking you to sign this petition to all US Mayors telling them we must immediately defund the police at local government levels.

The murders of George Floyd, Dreasjon Reed, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Rayshard Brooks, and countless other Black people at the hands of police have exposed what we’ve known for too long: Policing in the U.S. upholds a violent legacy of racialized trauma and control, diverting crucial resources from communities that most need them.

Defunding the police, like divestment from fossil fuels, is a non-violent, direct action to reduce harm, and create the solutions we need. By reducing the disproportionate budgets of the police, we can redirect those funds to critical resources like schools, affordable housing, healthcare and mental health.

This is also a movement to address the longstanding trauma and harm policing creates and to finally invest in our Black and brown communities that have carried that pain for too long.

The U.S. spends more than $100 billion on policing per year. The city of Chicago spends more than $4 million on police every day, compared to about $600,000 on public health services. And they’re not alone: Police department budgets make up a disproportionate amount of overall spending in most major U.S. cities. It is well past time to reckon with the decades of racism that divest from services that actually keep communities safe and well. We must reclaim public money from the systemic oppression and inequity upheld by policing.

Some cities have already taken action. After immense pressure from protesters, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti rejected a large increase in the LAPDs 2020 budget, reducing it from $1.89 billion to $1.86 billion. The NYPD 2021 budget was set at $6 billion. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has said that NYPD resources will now be shifted into social services. Dallas, Philadelphia, and Nashville are looking into similar steps to gradually reduce their police budgets.

We are calling on ALL local governments to divest from police budgets and redirect that money to essential services in Black and brown communities most harmed by these violent systems. We demand our city budgets reflect what we value as a community. This begins with supporting life-giving resources, not racist and violent police.

Sign the petition: Cities must divest from law enforcement and finally invest in Black and brown communities.

Tell FERC to make the Atlantic Coast Pipeline History!

On June 15 The Supreme Court ruled that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) can cross under the Appalachian Trail in the George Washington National Forest. Doing so removed a major obstacle to the project, but did not provide a clear path to how or when the project can be completed. A thicket of lawsuits persists and dozens of state and local permits remain in question.

Billions of dollars over budget, years behind schedule, and with no end in sight, the ACP’s corporate owners — Duke and Dominion — are asking for an extension. On June 19 they filed a petition with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to extend their certificate of public good and necessity by two years.

Sign here to tell FERC to reject the extension, and make the ACP History!

Then, RSVP to join BXE and friends on Wednesday July 1 to deliver all the comments in a fun, interactive, arts-based webinarRSVP here to join us live at 11am ET on July 1, or click here to RSVP for the Facebook invite – we’ll share a recording of the webinar, and more details on how to comment and be involved.

The existing FERC permit, which has been the source of several lawsuits and legal challenges, expires October 13, 2020. If FERC denies the request to extend the permit by 2 years, the ACP is history. But FERC is not known for listening to public comment, or evaluating fracked gas pipelines on the objective merits of whether they will hurt people, communities and the climate. Which is probably why they gave us a measly 14 days, immediately before 4th of July weekend, to offer comments.

Lawyers, environmental groups, and experts are filing formal comments to oppose the extension of the ACP’s permit. But we need more than a good argument – we need public outrage and attention to stop the ACP.

Sign here to tell FERC that they must reject the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s application for a permit extension. If you sign before July 2 we’ll include your comment in the docket as evidence of the public’s opposition and deliver them as part of a creative, artistic, impossible-to-ignore demonstration before FERC’s next commissioners’ meeting on July 17.

Make DC the 51st state – and win climate justice

This is one of my ideas that sounds crazy, but it’s actually really not: Make DC the 51st and deliver climate justice for all.

Like how a Green New Deal that ends fossil fuels would create jobs, rebalance the economy on behalf of millions of working Americans and stop climate catastrophe. Or how chocolate + peanut butter are two great tastes that taste better together. DC statehood is actually a simple, just, good idea – that actually might be a key to solving the climate crisis.

I’ll explain more, but if you’re already on board – Sign here to tell Congress: Make DC the 51st state, and deliver climate justice for all.

Here’s the simple facts: More than 700,000 people, most of them black and brown, live in the District of Columbia. They vote, pay taxes, serve in the armed forces, and are responsible for maintaining the roads, safe drinking water, breathable air, and police that serve and protect every member of Congress, the Supreme Court, and the White House — but they get no vote in Congress, have no say in federal policy, and cannot even stop armed federal troops from attacking their citizens. They are the very definition of “taxation without representation” which the founders of America fought a revolution over.

But this Friday, June 26, Congress will vote on whether to make DC the 51st state for the first time since 1993. And if they vote to approve DC statehood, we could gain more than a 51st neighbor and ally – we could get 2 more votes in the US Senate to affirm a Green New Deal, and end to fossil fuels, and a real, just, response to the climate crisis.

The fight for DC statehood became all the more urgent this month. On June 1, Donald Trump sent federal troops into DC neighborhoods to round up nearly 200 people protesting police violence in the wake of the police killings of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, and hundreds of other Black people across the country

While Trump has been clear he hates DC statehood, his actions may have galvanized the new the civil rights movement, and lent new urgency to our cause.

Sign and send the petition to your member of Congress: Demand they pass the Washington, DC Admission Act to enact DC statehood.

D.C. residents serve on juries, in the U.S. military, pay taxes, and work hard to build safe, strong communities where they live. But they have no vote on any decisions our Congress makes every day.

And that’s too bad for the climate, as well as civil rights. In the last few years DC has banned plastic bags, considered an aggressive carbon tax, and shut down coal plants and gas pipelines. These people are our allies in the fight for climate justice – and we’ll never have a better chance to add 3/4 of a million votes in favor of our values than right now.

There’s more energy now than ever in Congress to ensure DC residents have direct representation federally. A few weeks ago, the House Oversight Committee voted in favor of legislation supporting DC statehood, and H.R. 51, the Washington, DC Admission Act, has over 223 cosponsors. 

This Friday, the full house will vote on H.R. 51 to recognize DC as the 51st state, and we must ensure that lawmakers pass this overdue civil and climate rights bill for DC residents.

Sign and send the petition: Urge Congress to pass the Washington, DC Admission Act to enact DC statehood.

Rise up with us for black lives Juneteenth

On June 19, 1865, Black communities in Texas finally received the news that they were free. 

Juneteenth (June 19th) is a day that honors Black freedom and Black resistance, and centers Black people’s unique contribution to the struggle for justice in the U.S. This Juneteenth is a rare moment for our communities to proclaim in one voice that Black Lives Matter, and that we won’t tolerate anything less than justice for all our people. 

Join us on the #SixNineteen mobilization on Juneteenth weekend, June 19–21, 2020. Take action in front of the White House, in your community, or at home. 

We’ve been proud to endorse the demands of the Movement for Black Lives and work in solidarity with black leadership in communities all over the US where we live. Now, we are called into action again as part of the Juneteenth mobilization to support these three demands:

  1. Defunding of police;
  2. Investment in Black communities; &
  3. The resignation of Donald Trump. 

You can support these demands by joining us in DC, in your home community, or from your home. We want everyone to be safe, and we want you to engage in action that matches your level of experience and ability in this moment. But we are asking everyone, including you, to show up this weekend in solidarity.

Click here to see if there’s a local event in your area, and if not, sign up to host one in accordance with the principles laid down by the Movement for Black lives.* 

Right now, uprisings are taking place in all 50 states, and more than two-thirds of Americans agree that police violence is systemic. We haven’t experienced mass mobilizations like this since the uprisings led by courageous Black folks in Ferguson and St. Louis. These actions include small towns, as well as major cities in both red and blue states.The energy is sustained and escalating. The Movement for Black Lives is alive and vibrant – and we are a part of it.

Juneteenth is our next opportunity to rise together. Will you join us in action this weekend?

* If you want to show up, in person, online, or in DC you must do so in accordance with these rules: 1. We Keep Us Safe. 2. Respect Black Leadership. 3. Find Your Lane. 4. Make All Black Lives Matter. 5. Change the System. Learn more about the principles and the plan at the six nineteen website

Defund Police, invest in communities

All over the Country and around the world, people continue to surge into the streets and speak out online in response to the police murder of George Floyd Breonna Taylor, and so many more. In response to peaceful protest against racist police violence, militarized police forces have responded with batons, tanks, tear gas and worse; all to protect capitalism and property instead of actual human, black, lives.

As many of us speak out in or communities at home, Congressional leaders are coming together to form a national response as well – and we need your help to push them to include bold, abolitionist demands when they do.

Will you join Congresswomen (and squad leaders) Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, us, and many others to demand divestment from police and investment in our communities?

Since the 1960s, America’s racist system of over-policing and mass incarceration has grown out of control. The U.S. now spends close to $200 billion per year on police and prisons. At the same time Black communities are over-policed and over-incarcerated, they’ve been shut out of wealth and property ownership, which is why the racial gaps in wealth and health are so terrible. After centuries of economic injustice and environmental racism, Black people are now six times more likely to die from the coronavirus than white people.

We’ve partnered many times with Poor People’s Campaign in the last few years, and when we do, Rev. Barber always reminds us: To truly achieve justice, we must focus both on “who” and “what” oppresses and kills Black people in this country.

Trump’s racist, fascist rhetoric is dangerous and hurtful. But violent anti-Black racism has been built into our country since its founding, and simply removing Trump will not stop it or make us safe. Initially formed as slave patrols, police have always existed to maintain control rather than safety or justice.

We’re seeing that all too clearly right now, as militarized police forces use expensive equipment and weapons to terrorize protesters. Meanwhile, cities are setting curfews to instill fear and criminalize our constitutional right to protest. All to maintain the unjust status quo and delay justice. Could there be a clearer demonstration that this system is rotten at its core?

Sign now to tell leaders at all levels of government: We must divest from police and invest in our communities!

I know calls to DefundPolice can sound extreme. Many of you have emailed me back in response to our earlier messages expressing unease with the policy, or fear of how it will be enacted. It’s our policy to remove anyone expressing racist sentiments – including replying with versions of the racist talking point “all lives matter” – from our list and community.

So if you’re still here, you may not be comfortable with these demands, but you’re not overtly opposed to black life or black liberation. We encourage you to sit with your un-ease, especially if you are not black, so we can listen to and uplift the voices of black people.

Because in addition to being the right, anti-racist thing to do, following black leadership is effective. Since the Movement For Black Lives released their demands (which we’ve endorsed), leaders in our cities, states, and federal government have jumped to adopt them:

  • In response to the demand to divest from the police and investment in Black communities: 
  • In response to the demand that local schools, colleges, universities, and all public institutions cut ties with the police.
  • In response to the demand that the rights of protestors be respected.
    • Cities like Portland Oregon and Seattle have banned the use of tear gas (enforcement is an ongoing challenge);
    • Cities around the country including Philadelphia, NYC, and Oakland have rescinded their curfews, which were used to harm protesters and take away our constitutional rights
    • Federal troops have been pushed out of D.C.
  • In response to our demand for an end to the war against Black people.
    • All 4 officers involved in the murder of George Floyd have now been charged, and Derek Chauvin’s murder charge went up to 2nd degree (not 3rd degree). Though Breonna Taylor’s killers have still not been charged.
    • And the U.S. Supreme Court is re-examining the “qualified immunity” doctrine, which makes it near-impossible to hold police officers accountable for misconduct.
    • Reforms on policing are moving in state legislatures like Michigan and Colorado, in cities like Louisville and Minneapolis, and in Congress.

All of these actions in just the last few days and weeks show what our movement is capable of. Now, we’re asking you to sign on along with leading progressives in Congress to support the demand divestment from police and investment in our communities. Join us, and together, I believe that we will win.

Join Actions in Defense of Black Lives – NOW.

I’ll keep this short, because I know a lot of you, like me, are already caught up in local efforts to defend black lives in this extraordinary moment.

The murders of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police officers, as well as Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many more, have touched off a nationwide conversation, protest and moment of revolution. All over the country, and all over the world, people are taking to the streets, flooding social media, calling politicians and demanding justice for those who have been killed by the police. We unequivocally endorse the demands of the Movement for Black lives, and now is the time to join them.

From their call to action:

With all actions, there are a variety of risks and roles. All roles are important, and this moment is no different. In the last three months, 100,000 people in the United States have died of COVID-19, and Black people are dying disproportionately. As we move into collective and community action, we have to learn the risks involved, and how to keep ourselves and our communities safe. There is no one right way to take action. Do what you can from where you can. Power building takes many shapes. Thanks for joining us.

The Movement For Black Lives, and organizers mobilizing across the country, invite you to take part in a week of action June 1st to 7th in defense of Black lives. This is an opportunity to uplift and fight alongside those turning up in the streets and online

If you’re struggling to find the right way to take action in this moment, here are some resources:

  1. Check out the Movement for Black Lives’ site and call to action. It has actions you can take from home, and actions you can take in the streets; actions you can take alone, and actions you can take with friends. Most important, these are demands from black leaders, and they’re asking us to show up, right now, to support them.
  2. Chip in to support local bail funds, mutual aid funds, and use your money to support local protest, action and organizing. Here’s a great page that will let you split a donation in (almost) any amount between up to 70 local groups.
  3. Recognize that showing up for black lives IS showing up for climate action. M4BL has has a position supporting divestment from fossil fuels and investment in communities for years. And if you’ve ever showed up to protest polluted water in Flint MI, Denmark SC, or dozens of other cities you should have already been following black leadership. And while it’s not as important as saving literal human black lives, a policy shift that defunds police and incarceration at the local, state, and federal level has always been part of the plan for how to pay for a Green New Deal. If you want to learn more about how to support and show up respectfully in this moment, check out this webinar with the Sunrise movement.

So whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever your race or ethnicity: This is the moment to take action and show up in defense of Black Lives. Check out the call to action, find an activity that works for you, and get to it or back to it.

Earth Day Live 2020

This week, millions will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. It should have been a day of rallies and protests, concerts and action in the streets. But, as we’ve explained, this year, however, is anything but normal.

Instead of mass protests, from April 22 to 24 we’re joining a massive online action for Earth Day Live. That plan is for a three-day live stream focused on climate action, with each day hosting a different theme: Strike. Divest. Vote.

Each day will include training sessions, performances, and appearances to keep people engaged, informed, and inspired. There will be panel discussions, call in days, art builds, divestment, and lots and lots of social media with celebrities, politicians, scientists, and youth activists.

Click here to join us live online at EarthDayLive2020.org.

The coronavirus has laid bare the brutality and injustice of our current system. Millions of people have lost their jobs, are no longer able to pay their rent, student loans, credit card bills, utilities, or healthcare costs. That’s why we’re coming together for online action at a scale the climate movement has never done before.

Here’s an overview of what’s happening each day:

Wednesday, April 22, is a day to demonstrate our collective power and unity through community building and storytelling. Originally a day of mass mobilization, we are leaning into healing and togetherness to provide comfort and inspiration during this time of unknown and are centering the voices of frontline, Indigenous, and POC leaders. Click here to stay engaged and learn more.

Thursday, April 23, we will target financial institutions across the country. Led by the Stop the Money Pipeline Coalition, this day of action will bring urgent public attention to the fact that banks, insurance companies, and asset managers are complicit in funding, insuring, and investing in the climate crisis. Click here to stay engaged and learn more.

Friday, April 24, we will focus on political change with a nationwide voter registration day. We need leaders who will address this existential threat, and for this to happen, we need people to show up at the polls this year. We will be holding a digital, relational voter registration challenge to see which region of the country can register the most voters, and call on elected officials to support our demands. Click here to stay engaged and learn more.As the 24th is the first day of Ramadan, organizers will be working with the Muslim community to make sure events are accessible for those who are observing and use it as an opportunity to educate people on the holiday.

Click here to find out more about Earth Day Live and take part in one of the biggest days of digital action the climate movement has ever seen.

Online or offline, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day is a day to demonstrate our collective power and unity through community building and storytelling. Social distancing doesn’t have to mean collective disengagement.

See you online at Earth Day live 2020

Shut Down DC, Earth Day to May Day Starts Tomorrow!

From April 22-24, we’re going to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, as part of the massive Earth Day Live 2020 event online. The next week, we’re taking bold action online and in the streets (safely) of DC to Shut Down the status quo – which continues to approve pipelines, permit racism, and prolong attacks on our communities during the pandemic.

Months ago, young people from all around the world put out a call for urgent direct action to confront the climate crisis. Today, in the midst of the pandemic, we find ourselves in a much different world than when we first prepared to answer that call. But it is clear that bold direct action is as essential as ever.

That’s why we’re still planning to 5 days of bold action April 27-May 1, so that every weekday from Earth Day (April 22) to May Day (May 1) there’s an action or actions for you to join.

And tomorrow (April 22) at 7pm, the Shut Down DC crew is hosting a kick off meeting to explain our plan, and tell you how to connect with each day’s actions. Can you join us?

If you want to know more, check out the Shut Down DC website, with details on each day of action, and read their message below setting the whole plan up:

The COVID-19 pandemic has cracked open the veneer of our economic and social system. It’s putting the inequities in health care, wealth, housing, education, and much more on full display, and exacerbating existing crises. And unless we stop them, the politicians and lobbyists will continue to take advantage of this pandemic to suppress the vote, funnel hundreds of billions of dollars to their corporate cronies, and loosen already inadequate environmental regulations.

In the 10 days between Earth Day and May Day (International Workers Day) we are going to take bold direct action online AND in person (safely) to disrupt the interlocking systems that are threatening our collective survival and build a collaborative framework for a healthier, more just and sustainable world.

April 22-24 – Earth Day Live

Between April 22 and 24 young people are organizing online actions to strike, divest and vote for our future. From April 22, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, to April 24, activists, performers, thought leaders, and artists will come together for an empowering, inspiring, and communal three day livestream mobilization. We will support and lift up these activities and while leaving space for youth to lead in this important moment.

The action starts online TOMORROW (April 22):
7pm-ShutDownDC: How we’re going to make it happen

April 27-May 1 – #ShutDownDC

​Throughout the week of April 27th we’ll take bold direct action online AND in person to shut down business as usual and create space for a healthier and more sustainable world. Each day of the week will focus on a theme to highlight the ways that the climate crisis threatens our communities and lifts up our opportunities to build resilient alternatives.​

Learn more at https://www.shutdowndc.org/

Join us for the Bank of America Shareholder meeting

From April 22-24, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, millions of people around the world are going online for a three-day mobilization to stop the climate emergency. And on Earth day – Wednesday, April 22 – Bank of America is holding their Annual General Meeting (AGM) for Shareholders.

As shareholders show up online for the meting online, we’ll join allies from across North Carolina to demand they “Stop The Money Pipeline.” Can you join us?

At 9am, we’ll meet up in a video-chat to sign letters, call Bank of America Executives, tweet at them, and leave reviews on their social media accounts! We’ll share a few memes – just for fun 😉 We’ll inform, educate, and welcome new activists!

Bank of America is headquartered in Charlotte, and is the lead funder of the Atlantic Coast Pipelinea climate and human rights disaster. BofA is also the 4th largest funder of climate-killing fossil fuel projects in the world, having invested $156 billion in the fossil fuel industry since the Paris Climate Agreement was signed in 2015.

BofA is ignoring science, public comment, and international law by continuing to fund the ACP and fossil fuels. And with every dollar they spend, they are driving all of us closer to climate catastrophe. Their funding of fossil fuels is also bad for business! With oil prices tanking, and fossil fuels in steep decline across the economy they’re wasting money and momentum that could be used to build a sustainable future.

During their shareholders meeting BofA is especially attuned to public and investor opinion. If we call them out on these destructive behaviors and encourage them to invest in renewables instead, we can make an impact!

Join Us! We need your voice at this moment!