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  • 20 teenagers were arrested at the U.S. Capitol as they were demonstrating to demand that the senators back the Green New Deal.

    20 teenagers were arrested at the U.S. Capitol as they were demonstrating to demand that the senators back the Green New Deal. | Photo: Twitter (@sunrisemvmt)

Published 17 February 2020
Opinion

The protesters were part of a climate action launched by more than 150 middle- and high-schoolers urging the lawmakers to "step up or step aside."

Twenty teenagers were arrested Monday in Washington D.C. at the United States (U.S.) Capitol, home of Congress, as they were demonstrating to demand the senators to back the Green New Deal legislation sponsored by Senator Ed Markey and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

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The protesters were part of a climate action launched by more than 150 middle- and high-schoolers urging the lawmakers to "step up or step aside," according to the Sunrise Movement.

"Instead of leaving our classrooms for our day off, we are bringing our classroom to the capitol because our government is failing to protect our generation, and we're terrified," 17-year-old John Paul Mejia of Miami said.

The group shared video shared on social media showing activists chanting "Which side are you on?" and holding "report cards" giving non-Green New Deal backers an F-.  

Some participants gave speeches about the importance of urgent climate action before the police came and demanded they leave. A large group continued their protest outside while a smaller one remained and was then escorted by police.

The head of Sunrise’s political strategy Evan Weber said that it was "Sad that this is what young people have to do to make our voices heard."

"We're done playing by the rules," said in a press statement 18-year-old Selene Santiago-Lopez of Wake Forest, N.C., who was among those arrested. 

"Our entire lives, we've seen politicians failing our generation and our communities. People are dying, I'm terrified about what my future will look like, and it's only going to get worse unless thousands take action and force those in power to listen to our generation. That's exactly what we're going to do."

"Building up to Earth Day this year," she added, "you can expect to see what happened today, but bigger and bolder."

The Green New Deal is a resolution aimed to push the U.S. to take a leading role in the fight against climate change. Its main objective is to get to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and 100 percent renewable energy by 2030. The plan also calls for an “Economic Bill of Rights,” including the right to single-payer healthcare, a guaranteed job at a living wage, affordable housing, and free college education.

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