Demonstrators seeking to get Congress to declare a climate emergency superglued their hands to each other and blocked entrances to the Capitol from House office buildings Tuesday to disrupt scheduled votes.
The protesters from the group Extinction Rebellion formed human blockades in the tunnels to the Capitol from Rayburn and Cannon House buildings, which along with the connected Longworth building are where members have their offices.
Will Flagle, one of the protesters, said if Congress doesn’t act on climate change “there’s going to be increased drought,” “coral systems will be bleached,” and “there will be millions of climate refugees.”
Another protester, Stephen Leas, said without congressional action there will be “Old Testament-level natural disasters.”
Exctintion Rebellion wrote in its website: “This evening, July 23, we are significantly disrupting business-as-usual to force Congress to take the climate emergency seriously. The power of the people of the world, rising up in unison to shake off the broken systems that are leading us to destruction, is the only thing that can save us from climate catastrophe.”
Kaela Bamberger, media coordinator for Extinction Rebellion, said the protest was to encourage Congress to find that there is a climate emergency requiring “a massive-scale mobilization.”
The nonviolent group did not physically confront lawmakers trying to get past them, they just would not move.
It is a crime to stage a protest on Capitol grounds. Eva Malecki, a Capitol police spokeswoman, said eight people were arrested for unlawfully demonstrating in the Rayburn building and nine for demonstrating at Cannon. Of those 17, 15 were also charged with defacing public property.
The House routinely schedules evening votes on “fly-in” days at the start of a work week, and Tuesday night’s votes went ahead as scheduled, only with lawmakers rerouting around the demonstrations to the House floor.
Republican Rep. Ron Estes of Kansas said he just ducked under a protester’s arm to get by. Indiana Republican Rep. Jim Banks said on Twitter said it was “hard to take any protester seriously who superglues himself together with another protester … I found another route!”
It’s hard for me to take any protester seriously who superglues himself together with another protester to block me from voting. I found another route! pic.twitter.com/AWkPjfgPZr
More than one member asked reporters after the votes if the protests were still going on, so they could plot their route back to the office buildings without getting held up.
Katherine Tully-McManus and Doug Sword contributed.