Indigenous, racial justice and climate activists staged an occupation outside the Democratic National Convention in Washington Thursday, calling on President-elect Joe Biden to take immediate climate action and to approve the Green New Deal. Advocates are also calling for a Cabinet free of lobbyists and others with close industry ties. A number of lawmakers spoke at the protest, including Congressmember-elect Cori Bush from Missouri and Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. We air excerpts of their remarks.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! The Quarantine Report. I’m Amy Goodman.
In Washington, D.C., Indigenous, racial justice and climate activists staged an occupation outside the Democratic National Committee headquarters Thursday, calling on President-elect Joe Biden to take immediate climate action and approve the Green New Deal. Advocates are also calling for a corporate-free Cabinet. Protesters included Ta’Sina Sapa Win of the Cheyenne River Grassroots Collective.
TA’SINA SAPA WIN: I’m going to ask Biden: Please, put an end to this fossil fuel addiction. Put an end to this ongoing genocide. Put an end to the ongoing injustices against our people. Because we will stand. And we do know that there are people willing to put their bodies on the line to make sure that our future generations will have a clean, beautiful and just thriving community.
AMY GOODMAN: A number of lawmakers spoke at the protest outside the DNC, including Congresswoman-elect Cori Bush from Missouri. Bush is a formerly homeless nurse and single mother who helped lead the protests following the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014. She recently became the first African American woman elected to Congress from Missouri.
REP.-ELECT CORI BUSH: First of all, I think that we need to make sure that something is very clear. When we don’t act, people who look like me die. So, let me say that again. When people don’t act, people who look like me die. And so, there is just no other alternative right now than to make sure that we have bold leadership. And some people say, “Oh, well, you can’t win,” or “You can’t — you have to play this game.” Well, I’m done with the games. We can’t play any more games, because when we play the games, people die.
What we’re looking at right now, well, we crossed the mark for 250,000 people dying at the hands of Trump’s COVID-19. And I’m calling it Trump’s COVID-19, because this could have been done differently. So, we’re looking right now to President-elect Joe Biden to make some changes and do some things that are different. But it’s not good enough to just do different. We’ve got to do bold. We’ve got to do change that happens now. We’ve got to make sure that Black folks, Brown folks, every marginalized group, our Indigenous folks, feel our change. And so that’s why we’re here. We need change that everybody can feel. And so, yes, we’re going to get in good trouble doing it. Yes, we’re going to make sure that we say the names of those that have passed because of failed leadership. And so that’s what we’re asking for right now.
When I think about the day when I didn’t care about the climate — and see, one thing you all know about me is I tell my own ish; I don’t need somebody to tell it for me. There was a day when I didn’t care about the climate. I thought the climate crisis and climate issues was all about — or caring about the environment was about recycling and endangered animals. Well, I tell you what, I found out after fighting about “Why is my energy bill so high?” fighting about “Why do I keep having to go to the hospital for asthma? Why does my child have to keep going to the hospital for asthma?” And then I realized that it’s these coal companies, and it’s these companies that are the ones that are pushing this into our communities, into communities that have nothing to do with it, that are the most impacted, who look like me. When I think about my district, where Black children are 10 times as likely to go to the ER for asthma than white children, we’ve got to do something about it.
So we’re calling on the Biden administration right now to save lives. Save lives. There’s no other alternative. We need bold leadership, and we’re asking you, because we voted for you. Black and Brown communities showed up. Ilhan Omar and our sister right here, Rashida Tlaib, showed up and made sure that people were out showing up to vote. So we’re asking you to show up for us. And we need it now.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s Congresswoman-elect Cori Bush of Missouri. She was wearing a black mask with the white bold words “good trouble” printed on it, speaking Thursday at the “Biden Be Brave” occupation outside the Democratic National Committee headquarters. Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York also spoke.
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: Climate is now a top-three issue for voters across the country, and it’s about time that our Congress and our administration starts acting like it. It’s way past time. But what I think is so important is that every single person up here represents the power of the movement. It represents the power of Indigenous communities organizing, the power of young people organizing, the power of the Movement for Black Lives organizing, showing that climate is intersectional with every one of our needs and demands. It is tied to the treaty rights and liberties of Indigenous peoples in the United States of America. …
We can’t talk about climate unless we’re talking about the rights of young people to have a habitable planet, unless we’re talking about the rights of working-class people to have a job that guarantees them dignity. And it’s only bold federal action that can guarantee these things. It is only that kind of transformational investment.
Now, we have worked, and the movement has pushed. The movement is why I was elected to Congress. The movement is why Jamaal and Cori and Mondaire are here today. You all, the movement, is why Ilhan is here. The movement is why Rashida is here. The movement is why Ed Markey was protected this year. It was the movement, because as we’ve been saying since day one, they’ve got money, but we’ve got people. We’ve got people. And at the end of the day, dollar bills don’t vote, although they try to. We vote. People vote. Young people vote. And it’s about time, long past time, that we recognize and understand that we owe our seats, we owe our political power, because of young people, because of the Movement for Black Lives, because of women, because of the working class across this country. And it’s is a class issue, it’s a race issue, it’s a gender issue. That’s why this work is so important. …
Because you all have done the work, you all got us a seat at the table. We have worked with the Biden administration to secure commitment on a $2 trillion climate plan. Two trillion dollars. But we’re not going to stop there. We’re not going to stop with a piece of paper. That’s not what’s going to happen. We’re not going to forget about that agreement for the sake of an election, are we? No. What we’re going to do is that we’re going to organize and demand that this administration, which I believe is decent and kind and honorable, keep their promise. So, that’s what our next move is, is to make sure that the Biden administration keeps its promise. …
We know that we don’t just make that demand and walk away. We have to organize for it. We have to bring the heat for it, because there’s a whole lot of people that tried to just shove a bunch of money before this election to try to buy their seat at the table. But we organized for ours, and we’re not easily going to let that go.
So our demand here is to make sure that we keep this promise, that we follow through on a visionary, absolutely unprecedented $2 trillion plan, that’s not just about money, but also it’s one of the first presidential plans to honor the treaty rights of Native people, one of the first rights to make sure that we have environmental justice front and center, so that we make sure that we make up for redlining, that we make up for Flint, that we make up for Baltimore, that we make up for lead in the pipes across this country. So that’s what this movement is all about.
I want to thank you. And I don’t want anybody here to think that we’re not winning, because, let me tell you something: We’re winning. It’s working. It’s happening. And we are going to secure a future. We’re going to secure the basic tenets of a Green New Deal, a multitrillion-dollar jobs program for climate, for environmental, racial, gender and class justice. That’s what the Green New Deal is, and we will stick to that plan. So, thank you all so very much.
AMY GOODMAN: New York Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, speaking at the “Biden Be Brave” occupation outside the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.