On September 22, three thousand climate justice protesters poured into the financial district in Lower Manhattan and occupied Broadway at the intersection of Wall Street for several hours. This direct action came one day after the historic People’s Climate March and sought to underscore the central role of capitalism in causing climate crisis.
More than 100 people (and one polar bear) were arrested that day. Eleven of the defendants, including Indypendent executive editor John Tarleton, decided to contest their charges by mounting a necessity defense. The Flood Wall Street 11 will argue in court that the global emergency posed by climate change and the total failure of our political and economic systems to address it requires new forms of resistance from the 99% who have no say in the unfolding destruction of our planet.
The Flood Wall Street 11
The trial begins at 9:30 am at the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse at 100 Centre Street in Room 502 on the 5th Floor. There will be a press conference across the street from the courthouse at 1 pm when the court adjourns for lunch.
Below are statements from some of the people who are supporting the Flood Wall Street 11. For more, see this online petition calling on the trial judge to accept the necessity defense in this case.
Author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. Climate
By shining the spotlight on Wall Street's planet-cooking model of putting profit before all else, the activists who flooded New York's financial district were part of a critical new phase of the climate movement, one built on peaceful, focused and fierce resistance. Now, the #Flood11 are using their trial to amplify the message that when the rules of the game lead us straight to climate chaos, breaking those rules is both moral and urgent. Please support the #Flood11 by wearing blue at the courthouse on March 2-3, or in your own communities by taking up the fight.
Pennie Opal Plant
Idle No More SF Bay
There are times in history when it becomes vital to take a stand. We are living in those times now. Science has proven that humanity is causing extreme damage to the biosphere that we, the animals and plants require to exist. Already, we are losing approximately 200 species a day on Earth due to human causes The world is experiencing severe droughts, fires, storms, ocean acidification and the hottest years on record.
Unfortunately, the laws of the United States have been designed to protect corporate rights over the rights of citizens and the environment. These laws must be changed which are protecting corporations which are causing climate chaos, poisoning the water, soil and air, and causing life-threatening disease and death. A study of people's movements in U.S. history shows that when laws are unjust or cause harm, good people rise up and often break existing law to bring attention to the harms. Examples include the Abolition Movement, the Suffragettes, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Anti-Nuclear Movement. People broke the laws in all of these movements, which led to shifts in policy and law.
The people who were arrested at Flood Wall Street in September, 2014, were putting their bodies on the line in order to bring attention to the corporations causing harm that are beholden to the financial structures in the United States. Wall Street is the ultimate symbol of these financial structures and the laws that protect them.
Those of us alive right now have a responsibility to those yet to come. I call upon the humanity of those in the Court to consider the lives of their own descendents and the type of future that is quickly descending upon us all. That future will be more extreme in 100 years, possibly even unlivable. We are in important and historic times. Those yet to come will remember those who did not stand up for their future.
I plead with the Court to drop all charges against these brave souls who took time out of their lives to make a statement that affects all of us. Which side of history do we all want to be on? That choice is being made now.
Veterans for Peace National Board of Directors
There is a direct connection between Climate destruction, war and militarism and the profiteers from war and climate change at Wall Street. The U.S. military is, by many accounts the greatest single causative factor of climate change in the world today. Veterans For Peace recognize this fact, a fact that is so obvious that it needs very little argument. Wall Street is the driving force behind wars, climate change, the poverty of multitudes of peoples and countries around the world. We all know that. All except those who profit by it.
The #Flood 11 are heroes not criminals. The criminals are those whose pockets are stuffed with profit from the blood letting and suffering of people and the destruction of the planet. We live in a backwards social structure where the good, the noble, the courageous are persecuted and prosecuted and the base, the greedy, those who live like vampires off others misery, are in places of power and live in gilded ivory towers. It is well past time for this to change.
Do we want our children and their children, to suffer a world further devastated by vampires of greed? If not, we need to follow the example of the #Flood 11 and stand up, speak up, act up and stop the madness. At the very least we need to show up and support not only them but even more so what they represent – freedom from war, freedom from poverty, freedom from exploitation, freedom to live in, have, share equitably and love a sustainable world.
As Naomi Klein has rightly said, we need to support the #Flood11 by showing up at the courthouse on March 2-3, and in our own communities and by taking up the fight. Our struggles are all connected.
Prof. Chris Williams
Pace University Dept. of Chemistry and Physical Science
Author of Ecology and Socialism: Solutions to Capitalist Ecological Crisis
I am in full support of the #Flood 11, who should all be released and feted not as criminals, but as heroes, for attempting to shut down the epicenter of capitalist greed. If anyone deserves to be charged with a crime, it’s the traders and financiers who work on Wall St. The operations of Wall St, through funding and investment in fossil fuel extraction, are curtailing the lives of future humans, causing the extinction of countless species, and compromising the stability of earth’s climate; all in the service of profit to further disenfranchise the many, to benefit the few. All right-thinking people should rally in support of the #Flood 11, and demand an immediate end to what amounts to a highly political trial to squash dissent against those benefiting from fossil fuel extraction. Free the Protesters! Jail the Bankers!
Author of Climate Insurgency: A Strategy for Survival
"#Flood11 are right that climate change presents an existential threat. They are right that Wall Street banks and financial institutions are financing climate destruction on a colossal scale. They are correct that every one of us has both a right and a duty to combat that threat. Their action represents an emergency response to that threat. Their "disorderly conduct" was a necessary part of the effort to counter a crime of unprecedented historic proportions. History will judge them not as criminals but as heroic "first responders" protecting the conditions on which our lives and the lives of our posterity depend."
Ann Schneider, Esq.
Board member, National Lawyers Guild, NYC Chapter
There can no longer be any doubt that our climate is imperiled to the point of threatening agriculture and entire food systems. Nor is there doubt in our minds that the current economic system valorizes actors seeking quick gain without concern for later consequences. That’s why we in the National Lawyers Guild respect and defend the Flood Wall Street 11 for taking civil disobedience to publicize the fundamental economic motive behind climate chaos.
Members of Rising Tide, NYC
On September 22, 2014, three thousand people flooded New York’s financial district with their bodies, taking part in a mass non-violent civil disobedience to challenge the corporate system that funds and profits from the climate crisis. 102 participants in Flood Wall Street were arrested for sitting-in at the corner of Wall Street and Broadway. Eleven of the arrestees are now going to trial to defend their actions as necessary given the urgent stakes of climate change.
We stand with these 11 individuals and the growing numbers of people ready to take action to steer humanity away from the collision course we are now on. Rather than being some future possibility, the climate crisis is already upon us. It is hitting hardest those who are already on the margins of the global economy. Many of us witnessed this first hand when Hurricane Sandy struck New York City; Lower Manhattan was up and running within a few days, while in less affluent areas of the city the official relief agencies came with too little, far too late. Flood Wall Street was a direct response to a call made by a coalition of organizations working on the front-lines of climate change. By disrupting business as usual in the financial district, it brought their message to the symbolic center of the extractive economy.
The day before Flood Wall Street, as many as 400,000 people took part in the People's Climate March, including the secretary general of the United Nations and the mayor of New York City. The march called on global leaders to take immediate, meaningful action. Progress since then has been, once again, far too little, too late. National governments and international institutions seem to be in the thrall of an economic system that seeks short-term profit for a few at all costs. A sustained public outcry is necessary to change that.
We are at a decisive point in history, and those facing trial for participating in Flood Wall Street have risked their safety to remind us all of this. How is it that they are the ones facing trial while the perpetrators and profiteers of the greatest environmental crisis the world has ever seen bear no such scrutiny? This irony only underscores the urgent and unmistakable necessity of what these eleven courageous human beings have done.
It is estimated that we are in the last decade to make changes necessary to limit the most extreme impacts of climate change. There is a lot to do, and a decade is short within this global context. This is the moment to take a stand.
Sane Energy Project
Sane Energy Project extends its full support to the Flood Wall Street 11, and affirms that their actions were necessary in light of the urgency of the climate crisis.
At Sane Energy Project, we work alongside countless New Yorkers from all over the state who live in communities where dangerous gas projects are either being proposed or have already been built. We know all too well that these communities are suffering because their health and well-being is not considered to be as important as the profits that Wall Street is able to make by backing infrastructure projects and then selling and trading in fossil fuel futures. While it’s easy to get lost in the complexities of limited liability corporations and so-called regulatory agencies, it’s ultimately a very simple story – the rich get richer while poor communities are asked to shoulder all of the risks. This story is repeated in town after town after town.
Climate change is the same story told on a global scale. It is the same mentality, the same economic system and often the same companies that are driving the climate crisis. Fortunately for the planet, we still have a chance to stop the worst excesses of the climate crisis. We can take action in our communities by fighting projects like the Constitution Pipeline or the Port Ambrose LNG project. We can get involved in the REV process to ensure that New York State is set on a path toward a socially just and fully renewable energy system. But none of these important steps will be possible unless we have a public that is engaged, active and informed on the climate crisis. We believe that empowering the public to take action is therefore an existential necessity and a moral responsibility.
By taking peaceful action to spread the word about both the climate crisis as well as the system responsible for the crisis, the Flood Wall Street 11 deserve not to be treated as criminals but embraced as heroes. Each of the 11 defendants was meeting both a legal and a moral duty to protect the public, and we congratulate them, and support them, and thank them for doing so.
Time for Action: People’s Climate March Special Issue (The Indypendent, Sept. 2014)
My Night In Jail With Flood Wall Street by John Tarleton