As folks around the globe celebrated Earth Day on Thursday, US President Joe Biden kicked off his ‘Leaders Summit on Climate,’ a two-day virtual event in which dozens of world leaders plan to meet and discuss the urgency – and possible economic benefits – of more aggressive climate action. Participants include leaders from China, Russia and the EU.
Members of the Washington, DC, chapter of the Extinction Rebellion descended on the nation’s capital on Thursday to deliver an explicit message to Biden’s White House: “Stop the bullsh**t.”
The group – just one chapter of the controversial, UK-based environmental group Extinction Rebellion – was overheard chanting “bulls**t” and “no more climate crisis” while marching in downtown DC.
Videos and photos from the demonstration also protesters pushing pink wheelbarrows full of dirt. Other demonstrators were seen donning white robes.
Eventually, members of the group dumped the dirt into a single mount, propped up a sign that said “STOP THE BULLS**T” and abandoned the dirt, which reportedly included a mix of sheep, horse, llama and goat dung.
Wider view of the scene here where cow poop has been dumped in front of the White House to protest Biden’s “bullshit” climate plan. And yes, it smells. pic.twitter.com/abVP0Z3uCt
— Jane Recker (@janerecker) April 22, 2021
The group has dispersed, leaving the cow poop in the middle of the street at 17 and NY Ave #EarthDay pic.twitter.com/bVjVJneS2v
— Jane Recker (@janerecker) April 22, 2021
Online, the protests were widely chastised by netizens who considered the stunt tacky and disrespectful to city employees who were left to clean up the mess.
Nobody is worried about the soil, dipshit. We are horrified by your callousness and disrespect for the majority Black and Brown workers who cleaned the streets before your stunt and had to come back for a second time b/c your white privilege thinks their time isn’t valuable.
— Pattycakes (@DkPattycakes) April 22, 2021
So let me get this straight, “woke” activists, are leaving an unhygienic mess for DC’s (the City) Department of Public Works to clean up, to protest a FEDERAL response to climate change? Thus putting DC citizens, employees, and workers at risk?
Yeah, there’s bullshit all right.
— katheln (@katheln2) April 22, 2021
Nobody is mad at you for the urgency and rage about climate change. A bunch of white people just dumped shit on the street and left it for DC’s largely BIPOC sanitation workers to clean up. If you can’t see why that is problematic your activism isn’t intersectional.
— Matthew Willner (@MatthewWillner) April 22, 2021
Seriously though are you folks going to make city/federal workers clean this up, or are you going to do it yourself after the action is over?
— Augie Blick (@augie_blick) April 22, 2021
The DC group has yet to issue an apology for the stunt, but did address those who had an issue with the demonstration.
“Oh and for those mad about a little soil, uhhh, you’re gonna be really upset about how fast we have to act to prevent catastrophic climate change,” the DC group tweeted.
According to the international group’s release on its demands, the main gripe with the Biden administration’s plan to combat climate change is moreso rooted in the Paris Agreement, which calls on parties to hold the increase in global average temperature below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
The agreement also pushes for the limiting of temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
The group argues that, “due to past inaction in reducing emissions,” the world needs to “incredibly rapid rates of decarbonization.”
“Net zero by 2030 and other not in my term of office scams are far too little, far too late,” argued Extinction Rebellion spokesperson Reilly Polka, as reported by Fox News.
“Biden is punting the crisis to future generations with targets that rely on unproven technologies sucking carbon out of the atmosphere. This is a massive gamble to take when the well-being of the human species and the richness of life on earth is at stake,” the spokesperson added. “If he cared he’d set targets that expire while he’s still in office. We can’t keep waiting, we need change now.”
The DC-based chapter of the environmental group plans to “continue to escalate non-violent civil disobedience” demonstrations until the US president declares climate change an ecological emergency, rather than a “crisis,” as Biden termed it during his opening remarks for the climate summit.
It’s unclear if any laws were broken in the DC stunt.
However, across the pond, members of the Extinction Rebellion were arrested after smashing windows of the HSBC building in London’s Canary Wharf Shopping Center.
Extinction Rebellion activists smash windows at HSBC in Canary Wharf on Earth Day pic.twitter.com/mfR16RyDRF
— The Sun (@TheSun) April 22, 2021
Some of the activists were seen donning patches that read “better broken windows than broken promises.”
“Despite HSBC’s pledge to shrink its carbon footprint to net zero by 2050, their current climate plan still allows the bank to finance coal power, and provides no basis to turn away clients or cancel contracts based on links to the fossil fuel industry,” the UK group said in a statement to Reuters.
The bank expressed that while it welcomes dialogue on climate change, it does not “condone vandalism or actions that put people and property at risk.”