Move to Amend Coalition Leader Arrested with Extinction Rebellion Climate Activists

Thursday, July 25, 2019

For Immediate Release: July 25, 2019

Contact: Keyan Bliss, press [at] movetoamend.org, 916-318-8040

MOVE TO AMEND COALITION LEADER ARRESTED WITH EXTINCTION REBELLION CLIMATE ACTIVISTS 

NATIONAL DIRECTOR ASSAULTED BY CONGRESSMAN IN MASS CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE

Washington, D.C. — Move to Amend’s National Director Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap was arrested Tuesday during a nonviolent protest on Capitol Hill to confront congressional inaction over legislation calling for Congress to join the United Kingdom and Canada in declaring a climate emergency. 

Peaceful activists from Extinction Rebellion’s D.C. chapter rallied at Spirit of Justice Park before marching to the Capitol to demand urgent action from members of Congress in response to the escalating climate crisis and to pursue policies designed to reach zero emissions in the U.S. by 2025. Sopoci-Belknap and 16 people affiliated with the climate action group Extinction Rebellion superglued themselves to three underground tunnel entrances leading to the Capitol, blocking access to members of Congress who were heading to a regularly scheduled session. She and other activists were released after 22 hours in custody. Originally the group was charged with Defacing Public Property and Resisting Arrest but upon release the following evening the US Attorney’s Office dismissed all of their charges. Activists not booked overnight will have a hearing August 28 on their charges of Incommoding and Defacing Public Property.

“As the climate crisis continues to devastate communities across the world, the fossil fuel industry seeks to counter mounting evidence of their complicity in climate change in spite of evidence revealed by their own researchers,” stated Sopoci-Belknap. “Several corporations including Exxon Mobil have sought to suppress evidence in court with claims of constitutional protections under the 1st, 4th, and 5th Amendments. Move to Amend calls on Congress to take urgent action to address climate collapse immediately and to pass the We the People Amendment to ensure that fossil fuel corporations are not allowed to use their so-called constitutional ‘rights’ to thwart efforts to protect our planet and our communities.”

Before her arrest, Ohio Congressman Bob Gibbs is captured on video assaulting Sopoci-Belknap and forcefully removing her hand as it was superglued to a tunnel entrance. Since 2009, Gibbs has received over $183,000 in campaign contributions from fossil fuel companies including American Electric Power, FirstEnergy Corporation, Marathon Petroleum, and Murray Energy. Murray Energy is known for filing SLAPP lawsuits against critics when they speak out against their positions, including comedian John Oliver as well as several labor and environmental leaders who are also active local Move to Amend volunteers in Ohio. Sopoci-Belknap is exploring pressing charges against the Congressman for the assault. 

Move to Amend is a non-partisan, national grassroots coalition of over 450,000 individuals and over 500 organizations working to pass the We the People Amendment to make clear that Constitutional rights belong to human beings and political spending is not protected speech under the First Amendment. The group has passed hundreds of citizens initiatives calling for Congress to pass the amendment, including 24 in Gibbs’ state of Ohio. 

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