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By Declare Emergency on January 31, 2022

Declare Emergency activists were back on the road (literally) in Washington DC last week with as much fear, love, and courage as ever. We blocked roads not because it’s fun and we like to annoy commuters but because it’s our last option for stopping climate catastrophe and human extinction. Science tells us our world is on the brink of catastrophe and to save it we’ll need everyone, wherever you are, to do your bit. Here are the highlights of our week.

We kicked off our second wave of nonviolent civil disobedience early Friday morning, January 20, by forming a road blockage just outside the tunnel exit at Connecticut and North Street, NW. Just as dawn was breaking and in steady rain, four activists, among them 79-year-old Jimmy McPherson who had driven from Arkansas to join us, walked onto the road and unfurled two big Declare Emergency banners, sat down, and faced the waiting traffic for approximately half an hour before Metropolitan police arrived and began clearing traffic that had backed up for several miles. As a result, the Metropolitan police arrested all four activists and transported them to jail. They were released approximately 5 hours later.

Neither the risk of further arrest, nor the blistering cold, could stop activists from resuming civil disobedience the following morning when they converged on Massachusetts and 13th for another roadblock before being carried away by police. Three were arrested and held overnight.

After some spontaneous swarming on Dupont Circle on Sunday, 23 January, our second series of actions closed on Tuesday, 25 January with a coal dump and road blockage on the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway, a major commuter thoroughfare into and out of Washington DC. With three activists sitting cross-legged on the road in front of a pile of coal holding Declare Emergency signs and traffic backed up for several miles, U.S. Park Police took several hours to clear the area. Three activists were arrested, with one released several hours later and two held overnight.

Activists could not have done it without the support of a team of wonderful de-escalators, jail support, and police liaison, many of whom came from XRDC.

In spite of encountering angry drivers and aggressive passers-by, and spending hours in jail, Declare Emergency activists are proud of what they have achieved and will not stop until President Biden declares a climate emergency.

See here, and here for inspiring videos of each blockage.


Donald Zepeda - “I did these roadblocks because I am terrified of failing to get net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. I was in Florida working on a campaign to get the Governor to declare a climate emergency. I was spending a week in jail in solidarity with Nicholas Vazquez, who had had his bond revoked for continuing to do nonviolent civil disobedience to raise awareness of and get better action on the climate emergency. Near the end of that stint, I was thinking, ‘How long will it take for us to win this battle here in Florida? If we win, what year will it be? How will we get this done nationally by 2025?’ So I decided there that I wanted to try to start working directly in D.C., since that’s where the political power is, and I wanted to throw everything I have at getting national action on the climate emergency. So we came up with a plan inspired by Insulate Britain— risk arrest in an iteration with simple roadblocks, but done continuously, then do outreach and mobilization, and then risk arrest in the next iteration with more people and for more days, and build and build and build from there. The time for action for this iteration started on January 20th.

Because I want this action to come as soon as possible, and because this seemed like it could have a chance to get us to where we need to be, and because it needs work and bodies in the street in the meantime to build up to bigger and bigger points at each iteration, I went out this month and got arrested as many times as I did.”

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John Tijerina - “My name is Jon, I’m 26, and over the past 6 months I’ve been arrested 9 times for nonviolent civil disobedience to get change on climate policy, and have spent about a week and a half in jail. The reason I’ve decided to take action and blockade roads with Declare Emergency is because we’re at the end of the road with our ability to force the powerful to take action on the climate. We’ve literally tried everything else. It’s time to take our moral responsibilities in America seriously, engage in civil resistance and get a win – beginning with the measly demand that Biden declare a climate emergency. If we can’t win this, we can’t win anything.

It is exciting, exhausting, scary and uncomfortable to blockade roads. What I know, though, is that action creates mobilization, and it’s dramatic action which creates the most mobilization. I decided to engage in civil disobedience because I saw videos of others doing it, and I’ve seen how the actions I’ve engaged in have inspired others to step up.

“Freedom is what we do with what is done to us.” My generation is facing genocide because of the criminal inaction of the elites – but we don’t have to roll over and die. We have the ability and duty to step into resistance.”

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Tina Barrows - “I’m terrified. We already have gone past too many tipping points to stop climate and ecosystem collapse. Countless humans and critters are going to die in this mass extinction, enduring unspeakable suffering, and while I think people know, nobody will acknowledge what that actually, physically means. Because it’s scary. People will be hungry. People will lose their homes. People will get hurt. People will be afraid.

Eliciting an empathic response is a way to engage strangers. Putting up with some discomfort to create an image of human suffering is the least I can do, if it means breaking through folks’s defenses and stopping them from looking the other way, and to start imagining how their lives, and the lives of their children,

will be affected. Once we look the pending catastrophe in the eye, we have no choice but start to act.”



Every Sunday and Thursday at 6:00pm EST we are providing a presentation on zoom about Declare Emergency and why we have chosen to use direct action and civil disobedience to persuade our government to tell the truth and act now on the climate emergency. We’ll have more details to share about our next talk in our next newsletter. Stay tuned!


Whatever your comfort level - from off-site support/promo to a road-blocker willing to sacrifice the risk of arrest - there’s a role for you in our rebellion. Email and someone from our Mobilizations team will call or email you for a chat.


As we enter this critical stage of human history, our campaign needs donations - whatever you can afford - to help us provide resources, mass mobilization and pay legal costs for rebels in the legal system.

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The Radical Act of Blocking Traffic

Interest in civil disobedience has reached a mini climate tipping point


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Thanks for reading. If you have any questions or queries, please get in touch at :)

With love and rage,

Declare Emergency Mobilization Team

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