The first time I was arrested, I'm proud to say, it was for "making good trouble," although we didn't have that phrase at the time. I was still a teenager in 1967 and I drove 90 minutes from Stony Brook to the army induction center on Whitehall Street in Manhattan to protest the war against Vietnam. Being arrested was on my agenda. I was disappointed when the leaders of the rally made a deal with the police that only they would be arrested and the rest of the thousand or so protesters would disperse. I hadn't taken a day off from classes to disperse. I ran up to the barricades and attached myself to Dr. Benjamin Spock and attempted to get under the barricade where the police were arresting the leaders. One grabbed me and asked where the hell I thought I was going. I said I was Dr. Spock's aide and that he was very old and could die and that I was there to protect him. Spock nodded and I was soon in a jail cell with him, Allen Ginsberg, Tuli Kupferberg, Ed Sanders of The Fugs and the rest of the leaders of the anti-war movement in New York. In the end, the rest of the protesters didn't disperse anyway and over 250 people were arrested that day. I'm still so proud to have served my country and humanity on that day.
It's nearly a quarter of a century later and there will be arrests and good trouble-- civil disobedience-- coming soon, especially in the dual and related causes of Democracy and the Climate Crisis. One of the Blue America-endorsed candidates, Erica Smith, was in Washington a few days ago protesting at the White House. She took time away from her Senate campaign to speak out not just with her voice but with her body. I guarantee you, none of the other North Carolina candidates even thought of doing any such thing. The whole batch of them are careerists, not leaders. Erica wrote a guest post about what she was doing for us today. Please read it and consider contributing to her grassroots campaign by clicking on the Blue America 2022 Senate thermometer on the left and giving what you can.
July 4th Cheer
-by Erica Smith
Tonight, as we look up in awe while fireworks adorn the sky, let us remember that today isn’t just a day of commemoration. It’s a day in which we’re reminded that the fight for independence and freedom is ongoing and that every one of us has a role to play in making this a more perfect union.
Last week, I nearly got arrested in Washington, D.C. trying to do just that.
Though we’re in the middle of our 100 Counties 100 Days Tour, I knew that the right thing to do was follow a group of young, southern Sunrise Movement activists to D.C. last week for peaceful protests. This moment, just like so many before it, calls for direct action.
Our mission was to send a clear message to President Biden before it’s too late: No climate, no infrastructure deal. We marched to the White House to demand that the American Jobs Plan include a bold jobs and climate package that includes a fully-funded Civilian Climate Corps (CCC).
The CCC is a visionary policy that would create a government jobs program aimed at combating the climate crisis. It would give good, green jobs to the millions of Americans who are out of work or underemployed. And it would do a LOT of good in North Carolina, where the climate crisis takes a daily toll on the lives and livelihoods of our working families.
Over 500 people, mostly youth activists, participated in the direct action outside the White House. This includes a whole bus full of activists from Sunrise Movement North Carolina! I am so grateful for their leadership. I am so grateful to protestors and activists across the country who’re fighting for our freedom. Our freedom to have a good-paying union job, clean air and clean water, housing and food, and a government that works for the folks who make government work.
The direct action on Monday escalated as planned when activists began blockading all 10 entrances to the White House. Everyone was chanting, waving signs, and holding banners. Which Side Are You On? A banner that I saw on Monday and a question that's had to be asked for too many generations.
You could really feel the energy of people making their voices heard for the air we breathe, for the water we drink, and for the place we call home!
But shortly after we blockaded the entrances, Secret Service agents started showing up. They began arresting people at the White House entrances!
For several moments, it was pure chaos. As Secret Service members began approaching the entrance I was helping to blockade with other activists, I imagined that I would soon be in handcuffs, like so many other activists who marched to the White House to peacefully protest…
...but in the end, Secret Service moved on from my entrance as our crowd of activists dispersed. Of course, that didn’t stop them from arresting dozens of protesters in total that day.
Our lives and livelihoods cannot be sold out for the sake of a compromise that leaves our planet on fire and our economy rigged.
If elected to the U.S. Senate, I will keep raising my voice unapologetically to combat the climate crisis every way we can. After all, I am the ONLY candidate in my primary who supports a Green New Deal.
Arrest or no arrest, I will never stop fighting for climate bold climate reform and for climate justice. I will never stop fighting for true freedom and to make this country, in the words of Sister Nina Turner, as good as it’s promise.
Happy 4th y’all, let’s keep marchin’.
Ain't gonna let nobody turn me 'round, turn me 'round, turn me 'round,
Ain't gonna let nobody turn me 'round,
I'm gonna keep on a walkin',
keep on a-talkin',
Marching up to freedom land.