The idea of citizens’ assemblies appears in New York

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A citizens’ assembly is among the methods often proposed to move progress on climate change forward more quickly. Addison Luck participated in the April protest held by Extinction Rebellion in New York: could New York City join Ireland (and possibly next, the UK) in using this method?

On Wednesday, April 17 at 9 AM, around 200 activists gathered outside the New York City Hall to protest the inaction surrounding climate change in New York, the US, and the world. Under the direction of the activist group Extinction Rebellion, we had three main demands from New York City: 1) to declare a state of Climate Emergency, 2) to implement policy aimed at reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2025, and 3) to create a Citizen’s Assembly to help foster discussion around the 2025 goal.

After a half hour of chanting and running mock Citizen Assemblies, around 50 protesters peacefully blocked traffic entering Brooklyn Bridge on Park Row outside of the City Hall. Singing and chanting, 25 protesters lay in the middle of the road and 25 linked arms to create a wall across the road, while a couple adventurous souls climbed the traffic lights to unfurl large Extinction Rebellion posters.

After about 15 minutes in the road, the activists began to submit to arrest from the NYC Police, who had been observing since 9 in the morning. Overall, there were around 50 arrests (only those blocking the road), which pales in comparison to the more than 300 over a protest spanning multiple days in London, where Extinction Rebellion began. This week (April 15-21), Extinction Rebellion is organizing protests in 80 cities in 33 countries, and is demanding climate action from both local and federal governments. To protest climate inaction and hopefully instigate climate action through Extinction Rebellion, find your local movement here.