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Activists Arrested At RNC After Dropping Banner At Rock Hall Against Fracking, Border Wall

At the Republican National Convention, three climate and immigration justice activists climbed flagpoles outside the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame to drop a banner protesting natural gas fracking, a border wall, and environmental injustices.

At about 8 am, the activists launched their action at the Rock Hall, which is just inside the “event zone.” They hung a banner that said, “Don’t Trump Our Communities.” They came down from the flagpoles after about a half hour and were arrested by police for “criminal mischief and trespassing.”

The direct action was a show of solidarity between immigrant rights and climate justice activists.

Screen shot 2016-07-19 at 11.19.02 AM

Police arrest activist who scaled flagpole to drop “Don’t Trump” banner” (Photo by Robby Diesu)

While the activists were reportedly unaffiliated with any particular group, the environmental action group, 350.org, publicized the action.

Emmelia Talarico, who participated in the action and engages in labor and immigrant activism in Maryland, stated, “As the Presidential campaigns swing into full step with this week’s RNC and next week’s DNC, communities directly impacted by oil and gas extraction have come together with immigrant communities being torn apart by deportations to take a stand against an unjust system that targets us all.”

One of the other arrested activists, Shane Davis, who participated in the action, was “forced from his home in Colorado” after he was “exposed to the harmful impacts of fracking.” He is an anti-fracking activist committed to ending the hate of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and pushing Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to support a fracking ban, as well as an end to mass deportations of immigrants.

“We must remember that fracking often targets low income communities of color, often many of which are immigrants such as the Central Valley of California, where over 95% of fracking occurs in California,” according to Davis. “We cannot stand by and accept a political system in which both candidates support the toxic fracking industry, and one candidate freely uses violent racialized language against immigrant communities.”

The Republican National Committee’s platform indicates support for “all forms of energy” extraction “that are marketable in a free economy without subsidies, including coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear power, and hydropower.” It contends states should “regulate” fracking, methane emissions, and horizontal drilling, not the federal government.

It falsely claims the “Democratic Party’s energy policy can be summed up in a slogan currently popular among its activists: ‘keep it in the ground.'”

Environmental activists would be jubilant if this were the position of the Democratic Party, but Clinton Democrats on the drafting platform committee ensured “keep it in the ground” language did not make it into the platform.

Dozens of Clinton Democrats blocked a ban on fracking from inclusion in the platform. “Gasland” documentary filmmaker Josh Fox and 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben, who was appointed to the committee by Bernie Sanders, both made attempts to persuade Clinton Democrats to support a ban.

McKibben also urged Democrats to join him in supporting language against government abuse of eminent domain to aid private companies seeking to build fossil fuel energy infrastructure. Clinton Democrats were unmoved by his arguments.

The Democratic Party’s platform suggests Democrats will promote “smart pollution and efficiency standards,” including the “reduction of methane emissions from oil and gas production.” Democrats also believe states can regulate natural gas fracking. Rather than end natural gas fracking altogether, the Democrats support industry efforts to make fracking a “cleaner” energy, even if that may be next to impossible.

Nevertheless, the climate justice movement has achieved influence during the election. The platform departs from support for an “all of the above” energy approach. Clinton Democrats even caved to pressure from Fox and McKibben and prioritized solar and wind power over natural gas in the platform.

On July 21, 350 Action has called for a “day of action” to oppose Trump’s racism and intolerance, which jeopardizes climate justice. It will also renew calls against Democrats to ban fracking, reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, and oppose fossil fuel extraction on public lands.

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."