On Monday, youth activists occupied Mitch McConnell’s office bearing banners calling on him to look them in the eyes and explain why he doesn’t support a Green New Deal. They were eventually expelled, and 42 were arrested by Capitol Police for unlawfully demonstrating, the law enforcement agency told Earther.
The move marks the latest escalation in the fight over the Green New Deal as it inches toward a vote in the Republican-controlled Senate. On Friday, video footage depicting a confrontation between youth activists pushing for the Green New Deal and Senator Dianne Feinstein went viral, fueling a heated news cycle that lasted all the weekend. It was part of a full court press on Senators on both sides of the aisle.
“All we’re asking for is to have a goddamn chance at a livable future,” Varshini Prakash, the co-founder of youth and millennial activist organization Sunrise Movement, which has been leading the protests, said from inside McConnell’s office shortly before arrests began.
Sunrise Movement activists visited McConnell’s office in Kentucky late last week while the Senate was on recess, camping out and asking for a meeting to no avail. Monday’s protest marked an escalation as activists with the Sunrise Movement descended on his Washington, D.C. office.
The protestors included Kentuckians who testified about the impacts climate change are having on them and why they support a Green New Deal, a plan to rapidly decarbonize the U.S. economy that was introduced as a resolution by Senator Ed Markey and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez earlier this month.
The protests are part of an escalating campaign as the Senate nears a vote on the Green New Deal, which could happen as soon as this week. Earlier this month, McConnell said he would bring Markey’s legislation to a vote on the Senate floor to “give everybody an opportunity to go on record and see how they feel” about it. Without any committee hearings and with the entire Republican caucus essentially united against it, the vote seen by many Democrats as an attempt to kill progressive legislation.
The defeat of the resolution wouldn’t mean the end of the Green New Deal or activism around climate change. If anything, it could serve to increase pressure on politicians to act. Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren are among the presidential frontrunners that support a Green New Deal, which would give it new life if either is elected. And the Sunrise Movement, youth strikers, and other young people agitating for change are doing so under the auspices that science has set a timeline to decarbonize or risk catastrophe.
McConnell’s efforts to derail the Green New Deal don’t change any of that.