Extinction Rebellion NYC brings boat into Times Square, blocking traffic for over an hour-and-a-half; festive atmosphere as crowd overwhelmingly supports protesters; 62 arrested

Press Release                                          

For Immediate Release

October 10, 2019                                       

Contacts: John Baldwin: 212-686-3649; Eve Mosher: 347-850-3830 xrnyc.press@protonmail.com

 

Extinction Rebellion NYC brings boat into Times Square, blocking traffic for over an hour-and-a-half; festive atmosphere as crowd overwhelmingly supports protesters; 62 arrested

NYPD caught off-guard by “decoy” rally at nearby Fox News headquarters

●     An 18-foot green boat was driven into intersection and dropped there

●     Boat’s message of “Act Now” greeted by New Yorkers with cheers and chants

●     Day began with “decoy” rally against Fox News on Avenue of the Americas

●     “Rebel Fest” in Washington Square Park is ongoing

●     Criticisms of vandalism and “bad” tactics are unjustified

●     Photos: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1l7af1Zlo3-ieKiXQXWFqzqFVCdafPJVu

New York, NY – Beginning at about 10:00 am, Extinction Rebellion NYC, part of the worldwide environmental movement Extinction Rebellion, dropped an 18-foot green boat – bearing the movement’s hourglass logo and the words “Act Now” – into the intersection of 44th Street and 7th Avenue/Broadway, completely blocking traffic in the very heart of midtown New York for over an hour-and-a-half. Extinction Rebellion NYC’s four demands are here.

Shortly before 10:00, a car pulling a boat on a trailer drove into the intersection and stopped, entirely obstructing southbound traffic. People in the car immediately unhitched the boat from the trailer and dropped the vehicle into the middle of the road, as the car drove off. The rebels then defiantly sat down in a circle around the boat. Meanwhile, Extinction Rebellion members and numerous supporters surrounded the entire group, cheering and chanting. The festive atmosphere included live music and chants from the crowd, such as “Whose future? (Our future!) Whose planet? (Our planet!).”

Sixteen-year-old Nathaniel Walcott stood up on the top deck of the boat, handcuffed to the mast, with his bare feet superglued to the deck. The vessel’s mast carried flags from many nations already experiencing impacts due to the climate and ecological emergency. The same flags were held by the protestors sitting around the boat with the numbers of deaths related to climate impacts like flooding, fires and storms. About half a dozen people had their hands locked down and/or superglued to the boat, which bore the name Bienvenido ‘Toto’ Veguilla Jr., in honor of a forest ranger killed by illegal loggers in the Philippines. Police arrested all those surrounding and standing on the boat. In all, 62 people were arrested.  

“I’m proud and exhilarated,” said Nan Sinauer, the mother of Nathaniel Walcott, who had prior knowledge of her son’s plans, and was enthusiastically supporting him from the crowd . “But when I woke up this morning, I was panicked. It was nerve-racking!” Ms. Sinauer’s husband, Steven Walcott, had his hands glued to the bow of the boat.

The day began for Extinction Rebellion NYC with a 9:00 am protest and rally outside News Corporation (Fox News) headquarters on Avenue of the Americas. Because the movement insists that the media Tell the Truth about the climate crisis, this action was wholly in keeping with Extinction Rebellion’s demands. However, the Fox rally was primarily intended to draw attention away from the main action shortly afterwards. As there was no police presence at the place and time at which the boat drop occurred, this effort appears to have been successful.

The worldwide disruptions by Extinction Rebellion this week have received considerable negative attention in the news media, particularly in the U.S. Actions such as the one in New York on Monday – when activists poured a blood-like liquid over the iconic Charging Bull sculpture in Lower Manhattan – have been falsely labeled as “vandalism.” (The police, after refusing to let the group remove the “blood,” were able to clean up the bull immediately, and the group itself cleaned the surrounding street. Thus, no permanent property damage occurred, in accordance with the movement’s principles.) Another common theme in the media has been the claim that, though Extinction Rebellion’s goals are good, its unconventional tactics are bad, and have harmed the environmental cause. These complaints oddly echo similar critiques leveled against an earlier social justice movement: the Civil Rights struggle of the early 1960s. In that era, Martin Luther King also employed nonviolent civil disobedience to transform an entrenched power structure, and was similarly reviled in the press.

“In his famous 1963 Letter from Birmingham Jail, Dr. King eloquently answered the objections of white critics who thought he was moving too fast and too aggressively,” said Anthony Mascorro, a member of Extinction Rebellion NYC. “He defended the tactic of nonviolent civil disobedience as practical and morally valid. He also reminded the recipients of his letter that the efforts of tens of thousands of good people over decades had failed to change the reality of injustice on the ground. This situation applies to today’s environmental movements as well.”

Disruptions will proceed at various locations throughout the rest of the week. “Rebel Fest,” begun by Extinction Rebellion NYC in Washington Square Park on Monday afternoon, will also continue into the weekend. This location is holding a range of non-arrestable and family-friendly events, such as teach-ins, art-making, meditation, yoga, a “climate café,” talks and live music. For an up-to-date schedule, visit xrebellion.nyc.

Actions are taking place this week in more than 60 cities around the world, including Paris, Berlin, Los Angeles, Santiago, Washington DC, Montreal, Buenos Aires, Dublin, Madrid, London, Amsterdam, Prague, Vienna, Cape Town, New Delhi, Mumbai, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Wellington. Extinction Rebellion is now active in more than 72 countries, with 485 groups active in 473 cities and towns.

Tomorrow’s schedule:

·         Citizen’s assembly workshop (Washington Sq. Park): 12:30 - 3:30 PM

·         Closing ceremony and rebellion party (Washington Sq. Park): evening

https://www.xrebellion.nyc/global-rebellion

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eve mosher