Socialist Seattle Politician Kshama Sawant: We Need a Radical Militant Nonviolent Climate Movement

September 22, 2014


Kshama Sawant

newly elected Socialist member of the Seattle City Council.

Climate activists traveled from across the country and the world to take part in Sunday’s historic People’s Climate March in New York City. We speak to Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, who recently became the first Socialist elected to city office in Seattle in over a century.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: I see a woman who has made history right behind us. Her name is Kshama Sawant, and she is the first Socialist city councilmember in Seattle. Talk about why you’ve come from Seattle.

KSHAMA SAWANT: Well, we’re here mainly because this is an absolutely historic weekend for the budding movement against climate change. And the fact that hundreds of thousands of people are here marching together in solidarity shows that they are more than ready for collective action. And what we were talking about last night was that this collective action needs to be channeled into a really radical, militant, nonviolent mass movement that will raise concrete political demands.

What do we need to end, to really fight climate change? We need an end to fossil fuel use. We need a rapid transformation of the global economy into renewable energy. We need a massive expansion of mass transit, which will generate millions of unionized, living-wage jobs. And also, we don’t buy into the false dichotomy between jobs and the environment.

But to make all this happen, we need huge movement to put intense pressure on the establishment and not expect that they will do it—you know, we know that they haven’t been doing it—but also to explain why that is so. Why haven’t climate summit after climate summit solved the problem? It’s because the billionaires who own the oil corporations have no incentive to acknowledge climate change, because if they did, that would mean giving up their ideology, giving up the capitalist system that benefits them.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s see who’s up next. Why don’t you come on over? Come on over. And why don’t you introduce yourselves? Why don’t you stand right here? And what are your names?


ADEDAYO PERKOVICH: And my name is Adedayo.

AMY GOODMAN: And what are you doing here?

NYLU AVERY BERNSHTAYN: We’re at the climate march.

AMY GOODMAN: OK, so I see—your name is?


AMY GOODMAN: Your name is Nylu. And I see right here, Nylu, you have a notebook, you have a pen, and you have a tape recorder that says "IndyKids." How old are you?


AMY GOODMAN: What are you doing?

NYLU AVERY BERNSHTAYN: I’m interviewing people for the newspaper.

AMY GOODMAN: For IndyKids newspaper? Can you read me a little from your notes? What is—these are your questions? Can you read me what your first question is?

NYLU AVERY BERNSHTAYN: "Why are you here at the People’s Climate March today?"

AMY GOODMAN: And what is your second question?

NYLU AVERY BERNSHTAYN: "What do you think could be accomplished with this march?"

AMY GOODMAN: And what is your third question?

NYLU AVERY BERNSHTAYN: "Have you ever been in a march like this before?"

AMY GOODMAN: And have you?


AMY GOODMAN: Just some of the voices from the 400,000-strong People’s Climate March. Visit our website at for the full exclusive three-hour special from the launch of the march that took place on Sunday here in New York City. This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. When we come back, foundations are divesting their assets from fossil fuel companies. We’ll speak with a representative of one of the foundations that spearheaded this movement. Stay with us.

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