About 100 climate activists hauled a giant red alarm clock to Trump Hotel on Tuesday, holding its main entrance to protest an imminent decision on the Paris agreement.
Article and Photos by Alejandro Alvarez
Filmed by Ford Fischer
Just over a week after the People’s Climate march saw thousands in the streets demanding climate action, activists are mobilizing in defense of a key Obama-era climate agreement.
Hailed by environmentalists as a pivotal moment in cementing climate policy in global politics, the 2016 Paris Agreement faces an uncertain future under an administration whose stated policy is to repeal two regulations for every new one. The Trump administration stoked an uproar from environmental groups after appointing Scott Pruitt, an Oklahoma politician with a record of rejecting scientific consensus on climate change, to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Trump’s campaign promise to cancel US participation in the agreement did little to assuage their fears.
On Monday evening, Peoples Climate alerted activists and media via email that a decision on the climate accord’s fate was imminent. They promised a swift response to the rumored withdrawal, “in an action to wake up people to the climate crisis and the Trump administration’s failure to make action on climate a priority. It would involve a march into the Trump International Hotel’s lobby, organizers wrote, carrying with it a “startlingly loud” alarm clock which the group would use to wake up hotel guests – figuratively, and literally – to the dangers of climate of change.
About 100 people began to organize in Freedom Plaza shortly after daybreak on Tuesday, ahead of a short march down Pennsylvania Avenue. Front-and-center was a human-size clock built of red and white cardboard, featuring a message soon to be delivered to groggy hotel guests – “Wake up to the climate crisis.” The march carried a distinctive clock theme signifying “the wake-up call they’re sending the President and his advisors,” according to a media advisory announcing the action.
Protesters found little security outside the hotel entrance, and – without resistance from police – marched past a single barrier and occupied the area for about fifteen minutes. Though the clock itself remained outdoors, a small group of protesters masquerading as guests made it into the lobby where they sounded an air horn before being escorted out. There were no arrests or disturbances. At one moment, a man leaving the hotel briefly stopped to snap a photo of himself flipping his middle finger at the protesters.
A second march led the group to the EPA, where they unfurled their banner outside an entrance and chanted “Scott Pruitt, don’t do it, save Paris now,” as workers exited from the nearby Metro station at Federal Triangle. “Be a man, Pruitt, show yourself,” one man shouted. Pruitt did not show himself.
As of Tuesday evening, the decision has been delayed amid disagreements about the nature of the agreement, according to the White House. “It is important to up the ante and keep organizing and showing our power,” read the event’s Facebook description, “the first step is showing up Tuesday morning.”