Boston climate activists arrested

Guissel Mora, Staff Writer

Recently, climate activists in Boston blocked roads to “pressure the [Massachusetts] government to ban new fossil fuel infrastructure,” according to a statement recorded by WBUR, Boston’s NPR member station. A total of 15 protesters were arrested around Boston; five were blocking the ramp between Leverett Circle and I-93, while the other 10 were arrested across the city near Atlantic Avenue as they were blocking the bridge, according to NBC Boston. The protesters were identified as part of Extinction Rebellion, “a politically non-partisan international movement that uses non-violent direct action to persuade governments to act justly on the Climate and Ecological Emergency,” as stated on their website. On the website, you can see the movement’s demands, labeled “tell the truth,” where they expect the government to demand a climate and ecological emergency to communicate the urgency for change. The passion many have for inciting the government to take action against climate change is admirable, but at what cost? 

“Because of their origins, fossil fuels have a high carbon content,” explains the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) on cruel facts about fossil fuels. These individuals were found with “sleeping dragons” they did not get to utilize. This is a maneuver used to restrict their removal from a protest site. The Seattle Times saw this in action in 2018 when “people opposing immigration policies employed the technique while lying in the street at Second Avenue and Madison Street.” It is when “participants form a human chain, hand to hand, with arms linked, [often handcuffed together], while inside a piece of PVC tubing.” This prevents officers from using bolt cutters to break the handcuffs, giving protesters the upper hand. In addition, the Extinction Rebellion blocked the roads during peak traffic hours in Boston to raise awareness of fossil fuel infrastructure and stop it. Among the Extinction Rebellion’s demands listed, they want to act now and “take immediate action to halt biodiversity loss” as fossil fuels produce large amounts of carbon dioxide when burned. In the United States alone, the burning of fossil fuels takes up about 75% of our carbon emissions, according to the NRDC. Now that we know the harsh facts of the burning of fossil fuels and their effects, we can safely say there must be a stop to this. 

The protesters in Boston are doing what many are too afraid to do — speak up for what they believe is right. In a society where opinions and facts are now seen as equal, it is essential to differentiate between them again. The action taken by Boston activists was extreme, but we must consider the detrimental damage caused to our planet. Is that not worth speaking up about? Activism is now seen through a screen more than ever before, so we hesitate to accept it when we see real action. The irreversible harm caused by burning fossil fuels is constantly being discussed, but not enough is being done by the people who can make that change happen, i.e., politicians. Until we see the change we require to keep our planet thriving, it will never be too much.

Though the opposition brings up points like being considerate of others’ time and space, in times of crises like this, mundane activities like being late to work are the last things on these protesters’ minds — the only matters of importance are change and justice. Their voices were heard in Boston and around the world as protest organizer Teddy O’Hea claims, “there [have] been a lot of false promises about infrastructure…so we hope that this will get politicians to get into a dialogue with us and talk honestly about the steps we need to take for our future.”