On October 30, I joined 20 others in a sit-in at the Governor’s office in support of Youth United for Climate Crisis Action. Today, I share my reasons and update you on what happened.
Updates on Panels and Future Planning for the 2020 Legislative Session Can Be Found Below This Report.
Why We Refused to Leave
Twenty-one protesters refused to leave the Governor’s office last night. We sang, we chanted, we sat, and at times we cried as we listened to the YUCCA youth just outside the office tell us why they were afraid for their future, why they were going to continue their disruption, and why we adults need to support their calls for escalating action. As the minutes passed, the protest continued despite threats of arrest first from Roundhouse security and later from State Police. No one moved.
Finally, around 6:00, the State Police told everyone that they faced arrest if they continued to remain, and the youth and other supporters outside the office filed down the stairs.
Thirty minutes later, we were told that the jail was stinky and served awful food. We remained. In the end, each of us was asked one last time: do you refuse to leave? Then we were told we were under arrest and we were escorted downstairs where we received citations for criminal trespassing and were allowed to leave. This is not over.
Each of the 21 who of us were arrested last night had their own deeply personal reasons for why they remained. But one reason we all shared was that we are insisting that the Governor meet with Youth United for Climate Crisis Action members and respond to their demands:
- Declare a climate emergency—the Governor’s refusal to do this is inexplicable given the fires raging in California.
- Agree to put Community Solar on the call for the 2020 legislative session- a modest but important step and there are the votes in the legislature to pass this.
- Agree to include funding in her budget to be used to conduct a study of how New Mexico can make a just, sustainable transition
- Cease fracking operations in NM– a heavy lift for a state that receives 40% of its revenue from gas and oil but the alternative is disaster.
I can’t write about the other reasons why my fellow protesters refused to leave and were arrested, but I can share my reasons:
I was arrested because I have been so active the past four years and yet I see complacency among our leadership and our community. I continue to wonder what will it take to move these leaders to behave like leaders and take steps to save our future. And I hope that our action inspires others to resist.
I was arrested because I am scared to death at what is coming, perhaps not in my lifetime, but certainly in the lives of my children and my new grandson. And so I refused to leave for my kids and my grandson.
I was arrested because I am from Southern California and last month was my high school 50th reunion. I didn’t go because I was anticipating being arrested at the September 20th Strike Action, the day of the reunion, but that action was postponed until yesterday. I missed seeing my classmates, but now I watch the news each night in sorrow, quite sure some of my high school friends are staying in hotels or shelters while their homes are threatened or burned to the ground and the Santa Ana winds whip multiple fires with 70mph winds. Our new normal. And so I refused to leave the Governor’s office for them.
I was arrested because this is only going to get worse and if I don’t take a stand, I can’t ask you to make a greater sacrifice. Now I can. And will.
I was arrested because writing blogs and organizing meetings keeps me busy and relieves my guilt for having spent so many years complacent. But in the end, I keep wondering if any of that writing is making any difference at all. And so, I refused to leave for those of you who read this blog.
I was arrested because we live in a state that is one of the earth’s greatest contributors to the looming climate catastrophe….and I have grown to love this state but am tied in knots because our leadership can’t see that they are drilling us toward disaster.
I was arrested because it occurred to me recently that New Mexico being reliant on gas and oil revenue is no excuse for its failure to act. If any one of us was told that we would need to cut our expenses by 40% to save our children we would first react with: “What!” And then we’d begin figuring out how to cut our expenses 40%. That is what Governor Lujan Grisham, Senator John Arthur Smith, and other Democratic leaders should be doing right now, not counting their billion dollar surpluses paid for with our children’s future.
I was arrested because we must force this issue, and petitions, calls, emails and marches are being ignored.
I was arrested because I am white, retired, and privileged, and so I am not worried about an arrest I might have to report. YUCCA youth are not in that position. We were arrested for them.
I was arrested because I want to reinforce Retake’s continuing refrain: there is always more you can do.
I was arrested because I see it as a challenge to each and every one of you. If I can do this, so can you. We need to stop business as usual in its tracks before it terminates all hope for our children.
I was arrested because I am praying that somehow this arrest spurs more non-violent actions that press our leaders to act as if there is a crisis, as I fear that the time is coming that someone somewhere will decide non-violence is not enough. That is a road I fear may be ahead. And so peacefully, non-violently, I refused to leave.
I was arrested for you, hoping that you read this and sit with it for a bit, that you think about what more you can do, and that you then decide that you will move beyond your comfort zone and do the uncomfortable, every single day.
Paul & Roxanne
Events and Actions
2020 Legislative Preview Panel Discussion. We had a tremendous discussion on Tuesday evening, marred only be periodic problems with the live stream, problems we have now identified and fixed. Click here to view the discussion of what to expect in the 2020 session, including key bills likely to be on the call and considered in committees, and bills that likely won’t. We also discussed what you can do now and during the session.
The live stream occurs in two segments, both on our Facebook page. The one on the top of the feed, directly below this post, is the last 90 minutes of the discussion and it flowed without any problems at all. Below that stream is the first 30 minutes, which had some brief but manageable interruptions. These problems should not happen going forward…we keep getting better at this. Enjoy.
Next Steps. Planning for the 2020 Legislative Session, Tuesday, Nov 19, 6:30-8:30pm, 1420 Cerrillos, Santa Fe and by Live Stream. Tuesday I had announced this as a Town Hall to discuss civil disobedience options, but in consult with our leadership, we feel this meeting should be devoted to preparation for the 2020 legislative session and the June primary. We will have both rooms so our teams can meet again prior to the larger meeting. Stay Tuned. We will have a discussion of civil disobedience soon, as it is clear it is called for.