Editor’s note: This is part of TNR’s Letters to Legislators Series.
Dear Governor Scott,
As you are certainly aware, during the week of September 20-27 climate change activists around the world will participate in a “Global Climate Strike and Week of Actions.” The objective is to promote acts of civil disobedience in order to intimidate governments into adopting more militant climate change agenda.
Here in Vermont, climate activists are currently holding training sessions to teach people how to disrupt and/or shut down events, block roadways, close off buildings, and to skip school and work in order to impact policy decisions. Here is the email sent out by “Sonia” of 350.org, Bill McKibben’s activist group, on July 18:
One of the ways you can start preparing is to join us for a Nonviolent Direct Action training – a powerful tool for social change! If you’re looking to be part of impactful actions in September and beyond, or want to take your activism to the next level, then these trainings are for you.
These workshops will be hands-on and interactive. Through role plays and experiential activities, we will learn the importance of collective action and its connection to collective liberation, the basics of NVDA (nonviolent direct action) theory, creative tactics for shutting things down to spotlight injustice, and legal factors to consider, all with a focus on how to use NVDA strategically within a campaign.
Please join us:
Wednesday, July 31, 6-8pm, Grace Church, Rutland. Click here to register. Co-sponsored by Climate Disobedience Center.
Sunday, August 18, 10am-4pm, Bugbee Center, White River Junction. Click here to register. Co-sponsored by Climate Disobedience Center and Extinction Rebellion.
Saturday, September 7, 10am-4pm, Burlington. Click here to register. Co-sponsored by Climate Disobedience Center.
See you in the streets! Sonia and the 350Vermont Team
As you know, the climate change activists have already successfully — and illegally — disrupted a session of the Vermont House, stopped the Strolling of the Heifers parade in Brattleboro, and shut down traffic in downtown Montpelier. Sometime very soon 350.org will bus activists to Bow, New Hampshire in an attempt to surround and shut down the coal-burning Merrimack Station, that supplies 440 Mw of reliable electricity to the New England grid.
While we strongly support the First Amendment rights of concerned citizens in a free society to speak their piece and to associate to advance their interests, we also understand the need for rule of law as well as the protection of the rights of citizens going about their business who want no part of this kind of mob action.
To this end, we would like your assurance that:
- you and your public safety officials are well aware of what’s coming.
- you have plans in place for preventing or minimizing the impact of these actions on the lawful activities of non-participants.
- you are fully prepared to support the arrest and prosecution of persons who break the law, and
- you will insist that persons convicted of organizing and fomenting these disruptions actually serve time in the appropriate correctional institution, during which they can reflect on how their wrongful behavior seriously inconvenienced and harmed police departments, businesses, schools, utility managers, and their fellow citizens.
Thank you for your urgent consideration.
As a public policy organization, we would also like to know what changes in Vermont’s criminal statutes might be necessary and desirable to enable law enforcement and prosecutors to more effectively deter and punish similar actions in the future.
Ethan Allen Institute