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.
Thank you, Paul.
Paul, Thank you for your stance. I would certainly have been there myself to stand with the youth, had I not been ill. Whether I would be able to risk arrest is a tough question, because I still work FT and am the head of a nonprofit that is working to become sustainable. In light of all you say about your reasons for staying, it would have been a tough call for me. Not for me personally, but for the organization that I represent and the fact that my future employment might have been affected. But there is no question that I would have been at the protest and will be in the future.
Your position and all of the reasons you gave for taking it are moral and right in my view. As things get tougher and tougher, we’re all going to have to put our bodies on the line and in the streets. The option of doing nothing is simply not one that I will consider.
What I will now do is to send the Governor an email about the arrests. We have to turn up the heat and let her know that we are not going away.
Thank-you for standing for Community Solar. We will try to get our Dino Gabe Ramos to support it.
According to the theory sponsored by XR, if we can gather 80.000 New Mexicans to view the world the way we do then we would have a good chance to move MLG and the whole RH our way.
(MLG is not leading the people of NM, she is not our ‘leader’ because she does not work for us, the people. It is very possible, like many politicians, she never did.)
Again, according to XR theory if we want to make changes at city level we would need 3.200 Santafeans and at county level 6.000 people.
In my opinion it would be easier to achieve significant changes at city or county levels than at the state level.
In addition, while we support YUCCA and XR, there are 2 actions we can take every day of the year.
As it was said, we can vote everyday with our $ and with our forks. How?
By choosing what and where we buy what we need and by choosing the food we eat, where we eat or/and from where we buy it.
I believe we MUST vote with our forks because we are getting sicker and sicker which is a reflection of the continuous war on Life our society has waged for centuries.
It has became a vicious circle.
Humanity’s civilizations sicken, and kill and extinguish, Life on the the planet and in turn we mortally sicken ourselves.
This incredibly destructive process can only be stopped if we change the way we choose our food, the way we grow it and the way we process it.
Here is one link, and there are many more sources supporting the fact that our “industrialized” food system (not our local farmers) contributes about 30% of GHG.
Agricultural practices, and eating habits may very well be the first 2 pieces of the puzzle we need to change in the process of creating a new paradigm for life on earth.
There are known ways to begin to work on it.
Great Work! Too bad the kids can’t afford to run an “educational seminar” at an expensive resort, like the oil and gas industry does. Oil and gas and other industry lobbyists get plenty of face time with the governor and the rest of our politicians, at these events. An open bar, available women, and pretentious gourmet food on the oil and gas tab, is always welcome by our politicians.
Our local politicians have proven time and again they have no use for kids or young people, the educational system proves that. They just cut funding at CYFD, after all their main purpose is not protecting children, it is appearing to be fiscally conservative. Of course the costs will be offset to more law enforcement, corrupt courts, and negative press in the national media. They are still in denial over the generational damage they did with their Neo-liberal policies.
It looks like they are doubling down on the Martinez administrations cuts. They don’t even have people with the right credentials for this work.
Living here in Northern NM prepared me for the massive corruption of the dumpf regime. I still get a feeling of cognitive dissonance, when I see the homeless, displaced and mentally ill in the streets, against a backdrop of expensive SUVs, McMansions, and ostentatious displays of wealth. I know elderly people, and young families, that live without running water and electricity, some of them have 3 gig jobs.
Thanks for all you do, Paul. I find it very inspiring.
No words can truly express the appreciation I hold in my heart for your courageous display of commitment, fortitude and bravery.
I watched the sit-in goings on through the Governor’s chamber glass doors and saw you standing in your power, quietly with full knowledge that you would soon be arrested.
Thank you for your moving words describing why you were arrested.
The dark money groups are doing their own “advocacy” with a lot of money from the global oil industry.
Notice how they frame it, as if is another down home grassroots, organization “An advocacy group that supports New Mexico’s traditional energy industry has started a petition drive aimed at a new state law that mandates more electricity be generated from renewable resources.” It sounds so innocuous, “traditional” there never was any traditional fracking.
“The group contends the law was written by “radical environmentalists” and out of-state special interests.”
https://progressnownm.org/?p=211232 Progress Now had some interesting points about the industry ties.
“In December 2017, Definers Public Affairs was paid $120,000 in a no-bid contract from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for services which included searching for “resistance figures” opposing the agenda of Administrator Scott Pruitt, appointed to head the agency under President Donald Trump. During the bid Definers listed itself erroneously as a “small disadvantaged business”, which was corrected after receiving the contract. Allan Blutstein a lawyer for Definers Public Affairs lodged FOI requests on low-level bureaucrats that were perceived to be hostile to Pruitt’s agenda, Definers work was incorrectly listed as in the contract to perform “media monitoring” services. Definers cancelled the contract after receiving media scrutiny. ”
These nefarious dark money influencing groups need to be called out. They appear to be inciting hatred and violence against anyone who they determine is an “environmental activist.” They are playing the divide and conquer game right here in New Mexico.
Thank you for your courage and fortitude. I hope to be as committed at some time in the near future.