Anti-fossil fuel protestors called for Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) to become a “climate leader” in an onstage sit-in during her book talk at Dorothy Betts Marvin Theatre in the George Washington University Student Center Thursday.
At least 10 members of Climate Defiance, a nonprofit that uses “disruptive direct action” to bring awareness to climate issues, occupied the stage for about seven minutes during a discussion for Klobuchar’s new memoir, chanting “Live your values, be a climate leader,” and linking arms while holding a banner that read “Amy: which side are you on?”
Individuals interrupted the discussion twice and asked Klobuchar to commit to cosponsoring the Green New Deal before other protestors interspersed throughout the audience marched onstage.
Some members of the audience yelled at the occupants to leave during their protest. At least five GW Police Department officers responded to the protest onstage and escorted the group out of the theater after seven minutes of protest. University spokesperson Julia Metjian did not immediately return a request for comment regarding why officers escorted protesters out of the building.
The first attendee interrupted Klobuchar’s discussion on her book “The Joy of Politics,” which CNN host Dana Bash moderated, by asking if she would pledge to stop oil drilling, to which Klobuchar said that she was “proud” Congress passed the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, which set modest goals to reduce carbon emissions and promote clean energy.
“I’m a strong believer in even exceeding those goals, and there are many things we have to do to get there,” Klobuchar said. “I appreciate your advocacy.”
Another attendee stood up from their seat about four minutes after the first interruption and asked Klobuchar if she would cosponsor the Green New Deal. Klobuchar responded to the question, saying she has a “very good” record on voting for climate change measures but did not state she would cosponsor the legislation.
Immediately after her response, at least 10 protestors staged a sit-in, linking arms and holding a banner that read “Amy: which side are you on?”
The protestors chanted “Live your values, be a climate leader” during the discussion on Klobuchar’s new memoir, and interrupted the conversation multiple times to call on the senator to commit to cosponsoring the Green New Deal.
As tensions escalated, other protestors from the audience joined the ones on stage, prompting some attendees to express their disapproval. Police officers eventually intervened, escorting the protestors out of the theater after approximately seven minutes of disruption.
Klobuchar did not explicitly pledge to cosponsor the Green New Deal, she highlighted her voting record on climate change measures and her support for clean energy initiatives.
The incident unfolded amidst Klobuchar’s efforts to address climate change through legislative action. She co-sponsored a bill in March with Senator Deb Fischer to expand the availability of E15 gas, but critics argue that this could lead to increased levels of ozone smog and health risks. Klobuchar also introduced a bill in May 2022 to incentivize the production of energy-efficient and affordable heat pumps for water heaters.
Following the protestors’ exit from the building, Klobuchar and the event moderator, Dana Bash, returned to the stage to resume the discussion, receiving applause from the audience. The senator acknowledged the need for further action on climate change, acknowledging that the protestors had a valid point. However, the event was not entirely free from further interruptions, as additional attendees challenged Klobuchar on gun safety and her 2016 trip to Ukraine.
In response to questions about gun safety, Klobuchar expressed her support for banning assault weapons, implementing enhanced background checks, and imposing magazine limits. She emphasized her dedication to improving gun control measures and recounted her meeting with a mother who lost her child in a school shooting incident. Subsequently, GWPD officers escorted the disruptive attendee out of the theater.
Another interruption centered on Klobuchar’s 2016 trip to Ukraine, during which she aimed to show solidarity against Russian aggression. While explaining the purpose of the trip, Klobuchar faced criticism from an audience member, leading to their removal from the venue by GWPD officers.
The two protestors who were initially escorted out later returned, prompting another round of removals by GWPD officers. Emergency Medical Response Group (EMeRG) personnel later assisted one of the protestors, transporting them on a stretcher, while the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) took the other protestor to the second district station.
The incident at Senator Klobuchar’s book launch event highlights the increasing pressure faced by politicians to address climate change and the role of direct action in the activist movement. It also showcases the complex challenges and discussions surrounding climate-related policies and individual legislative records.
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