30+ Climate Activists Arrested Blocking Major NYC Highways, Demand Biden Include Climate in Build Back Better Plan

Jews for Racial & Economic Justice joined Sunrise Movement NYC, Extinction Rebellion NYC, and Free Our Future NYC for the action

New York, NY -- On Monday, October 25, 2021, Sunrise NYC, Extinction Rebellion NYC, Jews for Economic and Racial Justice, and Fridays for Future NYC shut down the FDR and West Side highways in NYC for almost an hour demanding immediate climate action, and no cuts to climate in the Build Back Better Act. At least 33 people were arrested in the demonstrations.

Ahead of COP26, where the world will be watching, the US has an opportunity to lead. Biden and Democrats in power can deliver on their promises to the American people, and improve the lives of millions by creating good paying jobs, protecting clean air and water, addressing environmental injustices, ensuring a livable future with good health, homes, and education for all.

The groups are specifically calling for $30B for a Civilian Climate Corps, $120B for public housing, reducing carbon emissions in half by 2030 and transitioning to 100% clean energy by 2035, ending investments in fossil fuels, and directly investing in and decarbonizing public schools, mass transit, and clean energy to reduce emissions across all major sectors with 40% of funds going directly to frontline communities.

“JFREJ is a multigenerational community, and all our members out here today — no matter their age — know that while their generation is not obligated to complete the work of winning climate justice, neither are they free to ignore it. We’re proud to be out here calling on the Biden administration to invest in our future before it’s too late. That means divesting from what hurts us, like fossil fuels and bloated police budgets, and investing in our communities, in climate jobs and justice. It means funding programs that deliver us the caring, sustainable, and equitable world we deserve,” said Sophie Ellman-Golan, the Director of Strategic Communications for Jews for Racial and Economic Justice.

Instead of delivering his widely popular campaign promises, President Biden is watering down his climate agenda to appease Senators Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema, who are bought out by the fossil fuel industry. The groups’ action sends a message to President Biden to stand firm in negotiations and take executive action to meet this crisis at scale.

“We regret that we had to delay commuters’ workdays this morning,” Veekas Ashoka, a spokesperson from Sunrise NYC, said. “Unfortunately, Joe Biden has left us no choice but to sacrifice our own personal safety in order to protect our collective future. Our disruption of traffic on two major highways is only temporary, unlike the destruction climate-related disasters will wreak upon our city without bold and urgent climate action. If Biden continues to compromise with fossil fuel interests, heat waves and hurricanes will make no compromise with the people of New York. But if he chooses the principled position and delivers on his campaign promises, he can help prevent the next deadly heat wave or Hurricane Sandy.”

Nine years ago this week, both the West Side Highway and FDR Drive were underwater during Hurricane Sandy. Without bold action from the President and Congress, these highways will be underwater more frequently and eventually permanently. Everyday people will bear the brunt of these disasters, just like they did when streets and subways flooded during Hurricane Ida and tropical storm Elsa. Bold climate action is the only way forward.

Sunrise NYC, Extinction Rebellion NYC, Fridays for Future NYC and Jews for Economic and Racial Justice stand in solidarity with everyone taking action around the country, especially the 5 young people hunger striking in DC for climate justice.

Three JFREJ members, including Rabbi Guy Austrian, are arrested by the NYPD