On Tuesday evening, members of the Washington, D.C., chapter of Extinction Rebellion superglued themselves to each other and to the passages connecting the Capitol to the Rayburn and Cannon office buildings, where House members have their offices. The protesters, who are part of an international group that uses nonviolent civil disobedience tactics to advocate for action on climate change, aimed to confront House members on their way to floor votes.
Many of the protesters, who did not expect the protest to last longer than 15 minutes, remained glued for more than two hours, alongside dozens of demonstrators who rallied as a distraction. They wore signs over their shirts that said “Declare Climate Emergency” and chanted: “What do we want? Green New Deal! When do we want it? Now!” Capitol police asked bystanders and reporters to move back and, after three warnings, kicked everyone out — except, of course, those who were glued. They arrested 13 activists, according to Extinction Rebellion, around 8:30 p.m.
Members of Congress, for the most part, ignored the protesters. Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., former vice chair of the House Subcommittee on Environment, mocked the group on Twitter, posting a video of himself appearing to duck under a protester’s arm to get through with the note, “…Supergluing yourself to a door is a very dumb way to protest.”
The climate activism group, which was formally launched in the United Kingdom last October and has iterations in 45 countries, uses disruptive acts of civil disobedience to call on lawmakers around the world to treat the climate crisis with the urgency it deserves. They’ve blocked traffic, stood on trains, staged “die-ins,” climbed buildings, and gotten half-naked. Because the group has no single leader, there’s no good estimate of how big the movement is in the United States, but the demonstrations it’s held in New York City have attracted hundreds.
Extinction Rebellion U.S. has four demands, which include the reduction of carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 and the creation of a citizens’ assembly to oversee the “bold, swift and long-term changes necessary” to tackle the crisis. On Tuesday, protesters were specifically calling for the immediate passage of the joint resolution for the U.S. to declare the climate crisis an official emergency.