Hundreds of protestors from across the U.S. came to the White House on Monday, a federal holiday until recently dedicated to Christopher Columbus, to demand that President Joe Biden stop approving fossil fuel projects and declare the climate crisis a national emergency.
The White House rally marked the beginning of five days of demonstrations as part of People v Fossil Fuels protest. The demonstrations are calling for greater attention to climate injustice, and calling for the Biden administration to reduce carbon-producing fossil fuel projects.
The week of action began on Oct. 11. The federal holiday was originally recognized as Columbus Day, and remains recognized as such by the more conservative states across the country. But now many, including the president, recognize the day as Indigenous People Day, following national calls for racial equity and decolonization. Biden’s announcement of his recognition of the national holiday as Indigenous Peoples Day marked the first-ever White House proclamation for the holiday.
Thousands are expected in the Capitol for acts of civil disobedience and calls to action in order to continue pressure on the administration to act on climate change.
Protesters will gather in Washington D.C. at Freedom Plaza throughout this week, and will conduct peaceful marches to the White House. Friday will see a march to the steps of the Capitol building.
On the first day of the protests, Indigenous activists drew attention to what they have called Biden’s “broken promises” to protect their people, because his administration is continuing fossil fuel production.
While the protests were peaceful, police still deployed long-range acoustic devices meant to break up the protest. It emitted a high-pitched, piercing sound. The tactic was met with online criticism, especially comparing it to the fact there were less tactics used for the Jan. 6 insurrection attacks.