Thursday, March 5, 2015

#Flood11 Not Guilty #FloodWallStreet

Erik McGregor photo

Bravo to the activists.

The #FloodWallStreet 11 who refused a plea deal for disorderly conduct charges for the Flood Wall Street action after the people's climate march were found not guilty today. 

I will never forget that warm September morning seven months ago when we met for the civil disobedience climax of the previous weekend’s people’s climate march.

The bike block at the people's climate march.
photo by gil lopez

All  August long summer, David Solnit noted noted Flood Wall Street would be the most simple beautiful action we’d even take part in.

Lisa Fithian and Monica Hunken helped everyone prepare for the action, preparing for a new chapter in the environmental movement, with the New York Harbor in the distance.

Listen to the heartbeat of the person sitting next to you Fithian instructed us as we got ready for the action on Bowling Green.  So we sat.  We listened. We looked at the sky.

photo by the author

  Be like water and flood wall street, she instructed us.  And fill the street. Sit and fill the street.   And fill the street we did.   Marching up from Bowling Green, we passed the Bull we’d so often tangled with the police over during Occupy.  

photo by the author

And sat down at Broadway, flooding the street with bodies.

And sat. 

And sat (some for over eight hours).

Filling the space.

photo by the author

We talked about why we were there.  We told stories.  We conspired. And some left. Others stayed, and over a hundred and two were eventually arrested, but not after hours and hours of waiting to make a point.  The world was overheating and we all had to change, they declared, by any means necessary.

At court, 11 of those arrested made the novel argument that what they had done was a “necessity.”

 They would put their livelihoods on the line that defending the climate was a matter of life and death, a necessity, breaking the law was a necessity to defendant the planet, they argued just as AIDS activists and others had successfully argued over the years, at high risk to themselves. 

On Monday, their trial began  100 Centre St, New York.

The Flood Wall Street Page noted:

Flood Wall Street

11 of the #FloodWallstreet arrestees have refused a plea deal and pled 'not guilty' to disobedience charges from the sit-in at Broadway and Wall, demanding a trial to make the legal and political argument that direct action is to fight climate change at the source isn't just justified, it's our only hope. You can help flood the court to support them!

When: March 2, 2015 (Court is at 9:30 a.m., gathering at 9 a.m.)
Where: 100 Centre Street, courtroom 502 (5th floor).

Supporters will be gathering outside starting at 9 AM, as well as later in the courtroom itself. If you can, please wear blue clothing to express your support, and if you are planning on supporting inside the court, wear business casual …

Occupy Wall St. would note:
"On September 22, three thousand climate justice protesters poured into the financial district in Lower Manhattan and occupied Broadway at the intersection of Wall Street for several hours. This direct action came one day after the historic People’s Climate March and sought to underscore the central role of capitalism in causing climate crisis.
More than 100 people (and one polar bear) were arrested that day. Eleven of the defendants, including The Indypendent executive editor John Tarleton, decided to contest their charges by mounting a necessity defense. The Flood Wall Street 11 will argue in court that the global emergency posed by climate change and the total failure of our political and economic systems to address it requires new forms of resistance from the 99% who have no say in the unfolding destruction of our planet."…/as-trial-date-nears-statement…

Several activists, including Naomi Klein and Tim DeChristopher penned statements of support:

by Tim DeChristopher 3/1/15
The #Flood11 represent the cutting edge of the climate justice movement, and they deserve our respect and support. As part of Flood Wall Street, their action highlighted the important systemic connections between capitalism, the corporate control of government, and the climate crisis. They helped focus national attention on the structural nature of a crisis that demands revolutionary structural changes. Their action used people power, creativity, music and beauty to nonviolently send the message that to truly combat climate change, we need to dismantle the power structures of oppression.
It is especially encouraging that the #Flood11 did not let their civil disobedience end with a mere photo-op. They are taking their case to trial to continue demonstrating the necessity of drastic action to respond to the climate crisis. Since our corporate-controlled political leaders have failed to hold Wall Street and fossil fuel executives accountable in court for their “disorderly conduct” on a massive scale, the #Flood11 are risking their own security to force this issue into the courtroom. In a world where a tiny elite can prevent the solutions necessary to defend our civilization, there is nothing disorderly about committed nonviolent resistance to that economic and political injustice. The very necessary actions of the #Flood11 are an example to our movement, our leaders, and our society, and I hope more will follow in their footsteps.
Sign their petition to use the necessity defense at:

After the first day of the trial, Krystle Holmes & John Tarleton noted:
"Monday was a busy opening day in our trial. The day’s first order of business saw the prosecutor drop one of the two disorderly conduct charges for obstructing vehicular traffic, as video evidence has clearly shown there was no traffic flowing at the time of our arrest.
The remaining charge in question is whether we failed to obey a lawful order, and whether the order to disperse was in fact lawful. We are arguing that since the police were ordering us to walk away from Wall Street or face arrest, that their order violated our First Amendment free speech rights. We heard testimony from the six police officers who arrested us, as well as the sergeant who read the dispersal order. Tomorrow, we hope the trial judge will allow us to each give testimony as to why our actions were necessary."

 Before the trial, Lucy Parks posted a petition, calling for the city to “Find the Flood 11 innocent based on the necessity defense.”

Lucy Parks New York, NY wrote:

More than 400,000 people marched through the streets of Manhattan on September 21 to demand that the governments of the world take action on climate change. The next day thousands of people took part in a nonviolent act of civil disobedience called Flood Wall Street that disrupted a nerve center of global capital while pinpointing Wall Street as a root cause of the climate crisis.
With 140 world leaders en route to New York for a U.N. Climate Summit on the following day, protesters chanting “System Change Not Climate Change” occupied Broadway between Battery Park and Wall Street for much of the afternoon. Later that evening about 100 people (and one polar bear) were arrested for sitting in at the intersection of Broadway and Wall Street and were charged with two counts of disorderly conduct.

Eleven of the defendants subsequently refused to accept a plea deal and are instead contesting their charges on the basis of the necessity defense. They assert that their actions are justified under the New York State law that governs the necessity defense. This is based on the fact that the injury they sought to prevent – runaway global warming and the destabilizing of the Earth’s climate system – is both 1.) An immanent and growing threat to the very future of our planet and of human civilization and 2.) Vastly greater than any harm that was done by their refusal to end their sit-in at Broadway and Wall Streets.
If you believe that prospect of runaway climate change is the greatest threat humanity has ever faced, that people and planet should come before corporate profits, and that ordinary people must rise up and challenge an unjust status quo, please sign this petition to urge the judge to make history by ruling in favor of the Flood 11 when they go to trial on March 2nd. In doing so she or he will set a precedent that seeking to stop climate change can be a legitimate exercise of the necessity defense.
This would be a tremendous victory for all our movements that are confronting climate change and its causes.
Flood 11 Trial Judge
Find the Flood 11 innocent based on the necessity defense .

After the trial, John Tarleton noted:
I was the first Flood Wall Street 11 defendant to testify today. I spoke for about 25 minutes, summarizing key points from the vast body of scientific research created over the past two decades that points to the need for much more urgent action on climate change than our political system is currently willing to consider. It's unclear whether a somewhat skeptical judge will allow other members of our group to testify as well. Whatever happens next, I'm grateful to have the chance to say what I did.
Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. -- Susan Heitker,Krystle StarShawn CarriĆ©

“Flood Wall Street case comes to a close in Manhattan” noted the Free Speech Radio News.

The activists and their attorneys. photo by Peter Rugh
Free Speech Radio News followed: “Ten activists who took part in a nonviolent civil disobedience protest in Lower Manhattan ahead of the UN Climate Summit last September stood trial this week for disobeying a lawful order. They were found not guilty Thursday, but not for the reasons they had originally hoped."

Their press releases tell the story.


Ten climate activists have been found “not guilty” of criminal charges stemming from the Flood Wall Street protest. New York City Criminal Court Judge Robert Mandelbaum ruled that the NYPD‘s order to disperse violated the First Amendment. 
Following the historic September 21 People’s Climate March, several thousand people took to the street inthe Financial District to identify and protest against Wall Street’s central role in fueling climate destruction.At the end of the day, 102 people were arrested for sitting in the street at the intersection of Broadway and Wall. Ten of the arrestees subsequently decided to fight their charges in court.
In his ruling, Judge Robert Mandelbaum found that the NYPD‘s order to disperse was unlawful, and that by ordering protesters to leave the entire Wall Street area, police violated protesters’ First Amendmentright to carry their message directly to its intended recipients: the Wall Street bankers who bankroll climate change
Defense Attorney Jonathan Wallace successfully argued that the Constitution protects citizen’s rights to express political speech within proximity to the target of the protest. In this case, the NYPD first prevented protesters from entering Wall Street before later ordering them to leave the area altogether. This pattern of policing proved to be the Prosecution’s undoing. 
Judge Mandelbaum also broke new ground by taking judicial notice that climate change is happening, is a serious problem, requires immediate action, and is caused by human activity. 
“The importance of judicial notice is that the judge accepted climate change and the need to do something about it as a fact without the necessity of any evidentiary support or proof at trial,” said Defense Attorney Martin Stolar. “To the best of my knowledge, this is unprecedented and has significance for future litigation involving climate change.”
Today’s ruling vindicates Flood Wall Street’s political message and sets an important legal precedent for asserting the constitutional legitimacy of mass civil disobedience actions protesting climate change. All ten defendants gave passionate testimony to the court, stating their convictions for attending the Flood Wall Street protest and affirming that their actions were justified.
“I was proud to be arrested standing up for what was right, and it was good for the community, the environment, and the planet ,” said Lewis Chiu, a 39-year old data analyst who was arrested at the sit-in.
“I got arrested to protect my five-year-old son’s future,” said Susan Heitker, one of the defendants.  The Judge’s ‘judicial notice’ shows that the climate justice movement is creating a broader shift in our society’s desire to address climate change and this gives me hope.
Jeneen Roybal, a disabled U.S. Army veteran who was one of the defendants said: “This is an important precedent, not only for climate change demonstrators, but everyone who engages in protest activity.
Wall Street companies fund and profit off disaster for all us, and finance capitalism won’t be able to deal with the social fallout of climate change. We urgently need to act to save our planet and futures,” said Jason Woltjen, one of the defendants.

February 26, 2015

Climate Justice Activists Take Charges to Trial

The Flood 11 are using the necessity defense to fight charges for civil disobedience.


What: Landmark Trial of Civil Disobedience To Stop Climate Change

Who:  Defendants from Flood Wall Street

Date:  Monday, March 2, 2015

Time:  Trial begins 9:30am; Press Conference outside at 1:00pm.

Location:  100 Centre Street, 5th Floor, Room 502  Manhattan

On September 22nd, one day after the Peoples’ Climate March, thousands of activists participated in a sit-in in the Financial District to protest climate change at the doorstep of the biggest climate profiteers: Wall Street banksters. Their action made the statement that capitalism is the root of the climate crisis, and that immediate, large-scale direct action must be taken to stop it.
102 people were arrested at the end of the eight-hour sit-in. Now, 11 of those arrested have denied a plea deal and are taking the charges to trial, invoking the “necessity defense:” a legal principle which states that the imminent harm of environmental destruction at the hands of corporations bankrolled by Wall Street far outweighs any crime they may have committed.
The trial will begin on Monday March 2 at 9:30am at New York City Criminal Court at 100 Centre Street, and there will be a press conference at 1:00pm, during the lunch break. All 11 of the defendants will give gripping testimony speaking to their personal convictions why they chose to participate in the sit-in and faced arrest to bring a stop to environmental destruction at the source, at Wall Street.
An acquittal in the case of the Flood Wall Street 11 would be a historic victory for the climate justice movement, and is also not without precedent: in September 2014, a Massachusetts District Attorney dropped charges against two environmental activists arrested while blocking a coal shipment at Brayton Point power plant. If found guilty, they face up to 15 days in jail and a fine of up to $500 each.

October 28, 2014

Arrestees from Mass #FloodWallStreet Sit-in Plead Not Guilty
Say Wall Street Should be on Trial for Climate Change

New York, NY — Last month, more than 100 people dressed in blue were arrested after shutting down a portion of New York’s Financial District. The action — held a day after 400,000 people people participated in the People’s Climate March — was a part of “Flood Wall Street”, an event in which thousands “flooded” Broadway and #FloodWallStreet took over headlines and Twitter, where it was a top trend for hours. Court appearances for the arrestees began Monday October 27 and continue today. Some of the arrestees have refused the prosecution’s offer to dismiss the charges in six months. Instead, they chose to plead “not guilty” and demand a trial, insisting that Wall Street is the real culprit due to its role in financing the climate crisis.
WHEN: Tuesday, Oct. 28, 12 noon (arrestees will appear in court beginning at 9am)
WHERE: 100 Centre Street; in front of the New York City Criminal Courts Building
WHO: #FloodWallStreet arrestees who are insisting on taking their case to trial; Peter Rugh of System Change Not Climate Change; Kim Fraczek, coordinator at the Sane Energy Project.
VISUALS: A dozen arrestees who have plead not guilty to their charges; a colorful 18-foot long banner used during the Flood Wall Street action. Photos from the orginal event, including initial arrests:
#FloodWallStreet is a response to the Climate Justice Alliance’s call for nonviolent direct action. More information at

UPDATE: Wall Street Clogged by Flood of Climate Protesters

Sit-in Points Finger at Corporations in Flood Wall Street Action
New York, NY — Today, thousands of protesters wearing blue sparked a national conversation about the role of corporate power in climate politics when they shut down portions of lower Broadway. Following the Stock Exchange closing bell, an estimated 100 people were arrested by the NYPD in the Flood Wall Street action which was organized to hold corporations and banks accountable for their role in creating the climate crisis.
Quotes from organizers and participants of Flood Wall Street:
“Our goal was to connect climate change to Wall Street and amplify stories from the front lines. We definitely did that. We did it by disrupting business as usual in the heart of the world’s most important financial center.”
-Yotam Marom, Flood Wall Street Organizer
“Indigenous peoples are here at Flood Wall Street to send a direct message to the financiers of the global climate crisis and the fossil fuel regime since we are on the frontlines of the impact of fossil fuel development as well as experiencing disproportionate impacts of the global crisis. We have so much at stake, and a shared ambition to target the international financiers to throw a wrench in the system and disrupt commerce and business as usual here in the belly of the beast in the United States of America.”
-Clayton Thomas-Muller, #IdleNoMore
“The people and the land of Appalachia have been suffering for decades from the decisions made on Wall Street. We need a new economy built from the ground up.”
-Terri Blanton, Kentuckias For The Commonwealth
“We are here representing the communities who are suffering directly from an exploitative, extractive economy that doesn’t respect people’s dignity, or human, labour, and civil rights. We are here to lift this voice and to send the message that we have the opportunity to create an economy that values humanity and dignity. We are here to redefine a just transition, where all communities have equality, access to resources, and also an economy that is good for the people and the planet.”
-Abel Luna, Migrant Justice

Thousands ‘Flood’ Financial District Following Sunday’s Historic March
Interviews available upon requests
New York, NY — 3,000 people dressed in blue are currently between Exchange Place and The Bull in Manhattan’s financial district, sitting down to interrupt the business day and targeting corporations and businesses financing and fueling the climate crisis.
“Communities that are first and most impacted by storms, floods and droughts are also on the frontlines of fighting the dig-burn-dump economy causing climate change,” said Michael Leon Guerrero of the Climate Justice Alliance. “We are flooding Wall Street to stop its financing of planetary destruction, and to make way for living economies that benefit people and the planet.”
“Many of us were also involved with Occupy Wall Street,” said Michael Premo, an organizer of Flood Wall Street and a Brooklyn-based artist.  “Just like the financial crisis, the climate crisis is a product of an underlying political crisis. It’s the result of policies that serve the shortsighted interests of the few over the survival and well being of everyone.”
Yesterday’s historic 400,000-person march showed widespread support for action on climate change, and Flood Wall Street is confronting those who stand in the way of change and connecting the climate movement with a long tradition of nonviolent direct action.
“Throughout history, people have engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience in response to moral crises, when political leaders have failed to act,” said Vida James, a Flood Wall Street organizer. “What could constitute more of a moral crisis than the health and survival of our planet, our communities, and our grandchildren?”
Art, music, and giant visuals are prominent features of the festive demonstration, beginning the day with the Rude Mechanical Orchestra, a local activist marching band. Nearly a hundred people carried a 300-foot banner that read: “Capitalism = Climate Chaos — Flood Wall Street,” among many other visuals.
The day began with speakers from around the world that have been impacted by climate change, emphasizing that leadership on climate justice must come from below.
“The real solution to global warming is organizing workers worldwide for the construction of a new model, with justice, equality and respect for life,” said Elisa Estronioli, a Brazilian land-rights activist.
More updates coming.

September 22, 2014

Mass Sit-in to Confront Wall Street
for Financing Climate Change
Protesters Flood Financial District After Climate March
New York, NY — A “flood” of people from across the globe, dressed in blue, will take to the streets of New York’s Financial District on Monday to highlight the role of Wall Street in fueling the climate crisis. Coming a day after more than 400,000 took part in the People’s Climate March, #FloodWallStreet will target corporate polluters and those profiting from the fossil fuel industry. Participants will carry out a massive sit-in to disrupt business as usual. Speakers will include members of communities that have been hardest hit by the climate crisis, as well as author-activists Naomi Klein, Chris Hedges and Rebecca Solnit.
“Two years ago, Superstorm Sandy literally flooded New York’s Financial District — but it didn’t phase Wall Street and their drive for the short term profits that flow from the cooking of the planet,” says Klein. “Which is why we’re going to flood them again.”
WHEN: Monday, Sept. 22, 11 a.m. (full schedule below). Interview opportunities throughout the day – please check in at the media desk
WHERE:Program at Battery Park. | Sit-in elsewhere in the Financial District
WHO: Hundreds of concerned people from around the world. Speakers include Naomi Klein, Chris Hedges, Rebecca Solnit and members of front-line communities around the world. Other notable participants include Bill McKibben
VISUALS: Masses of activists in blue sitting-in and risking arrest, accompanied by a 15-foot inflatable ‘carbon bubble’, a marching band, oversized puppets, a 300-foot #FloodWallStreet banner, and other large-scale art pieces.
9:00am   – Breakfast and Rude Mechanical Orchestra
9:30am   – Program begins at War II Memorial in Battery Park
10:30am  – Mass non-violent direct action trainings
11:30am – March to the Financial District begins
12:00pm – Sit-in in Financial District

#FloodWallStreet is a response to the Climate Justice Alliance’s call for non-violent direct action.

 And so today, seven months later, the city is still reeling from what happened with the climate march.  The lessons are many.  But we still have a lot to learn.  As the city bids to bulldoze gardens to make way for developer giveaways, we have to find a new way to create and sustain a city, which will not consume itself, a city which can remediate problems, create natural irrigation systems (such as community gardens) to handle floods, support its people, find ways to improve non polluting transportation, and turn down the hyper production which is consuming it.  Flood Wall Street showed us there is another way to build a city.  Thank goodness these brave activists were found not guilty.
Hopefully the world is listening to their plea.

But there is so much more to do.  At the People's Climate March, garden activists carried signs declaring that gardens help slow global warming.  And they are right.  Yet, today, the city wants to develop them for housing that displaces rather than serves the community.  We can occupy the HPD buildings where they are making these decisions, turning them into gardens.  Gardens are homes declare garden activists, make them homes.  We need to reclaim our commons for the planet to survive.

Photos by the NYCCGC, top of the people's climate march, lower of the spring fling with public space party at el jardin paraiso last spring.

public space party says turn HPD into a garden.
gardens are homes. 

The group I work with, Public Space Party is planning several garden and public space related actions in the next few weeks.   March 21, Join Public Space Party as we celebrate the Poetry of Pedro Pietri, the Nuyorican poet, playwright, founder of the Nuyorican Movement. We'll romp around the Lower East Side Community Gardens, starting atSiempre Verde Garden, meandering to Petit Versailles, and then El Jardin del Paraiso NYC from 2- 5 on Pedro's birthday March 21. Bring one of Pedro's poems or your own, a love story, a moment lost and found. We welcome all poems and stories. 

Other upcoming events in our spring public space fling, include our:

April 8th, lunch at the POPS, at 622 3rd Avenue POPS arcade.

April 21 Join us for a bike ride through the endangered community gardens.

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