Tag Archives: direct action

New Hope for Climate Activism

By Chie Togami and Suzanne Staggenborg

Climate change is an unprecedented threat to our planet, a catastrophic emergency that is happening now – glaciers are melting, coral reefs are bleaching, and countries all over the world are experiencing extreme weather events such as devastating floods, fires, and storms. It is both maddening and puzzling why we did not take more action much sooner to save the planet. Scientific consensus about the unsustainable release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and the dangerous impacts of climate change first emerged nearly forty years ago. Since then, the United States has failed to pass major legislation aimed at slowing climate change, withdrawn from the Paris Climate Accords, and sustained one of the highest rates of climate denial in the world. Political will – especially among leading producers of greenhouse gases such as the U.S. – remains virtually nonexistent. Many of us who are frustrated with the lack of government action on climate change hope that social movement opposition to fossil fuels and our carbon-based economy will have an impact. While climate change has not yet spurred the kind of extensive grassroots activism needed (McAdam 2017), recent developments in grassroots activism on climate change provide reason for optimism. In response to political intransigence, grassroots activists are marching in the streets, boycotting fossil fuel corporations, halting pipeline projects, and lobbying elected officials for comprehensive climate change legislation.

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OWS occupying foreclosed homes

A story on ABC News reports that Occupy Wall Street headed to Brooklyn yesterday, calling for more attention to foreclosures. Removed from public spaces (and with winter approaching), activists are taking on a new strategy through much of the nation: occupying vacant foreclosed homes to draw attention to the bailout of the banks and to the power they wield compared to middle-class Americans who have lost their homes. In Brooklyn, protestors occupied a vacant home whose former residents are now homeless due to a Bank of America foreclosure.

As most movement scholars and activists realize, while creativity is an important source of new strategy, the media often makes the use of new strategies seem like an unorganized, spontaneous decision by activists. Rather, the use of new strategies is typically organized and planned well in advance, however creative that strategy may be. For example, in NYC,  the group Organizing for Occupation (O4O) and its partners have been working for many months to develop a strategy to combat foreclosures, deciding to focus their efforts on occupying vacant homes and on disrupting auctions of foreclosed homes. See the video below of an O4O action that disrupted a Brooklyn foreclosure auction back in October. 

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Filed under Daily Disruption