A climate activist who shut down a Washington, D.C., highway acknowledged that she's consciously "disrupting people's lives" and compared herself to civil rights pioneers who were "not well liked during their time."
Declare Emergency, a climate alarmism group that conducts disruptive protests in and around D.C. in hopes of urging President Joe Biden to declare a climate emergency, on Wednesday blockaded a busy section of the George Washington Memorial Parkway. After the demonstration, group spokeswoman Nora Swisher dismissed criticism of the protest, admitting that the "point" of the protest is to ruin people's days. Swisher went on to argue that those who don't like her tactics will eventually come around, just as the general public now reveres once-unpopular civil rights pioneers.
"We consciously are disrupting people's lives today in hopes that we can mitigate more serious destruction down the road. Because that's the trajectory we're on right now," Swisher told FOX 5. When asked if she feared whether the protest would turn people against her cause, Swisher said she "expected" such a backlash and expressed confidence that history would look fondly upon the group. "This has been true of nonviolent civil disobedience movements throughout history," Swisher said. "The suffragettes, the civil rights movement—they were not well liked during their time. Now, with hindsight, we see that their actions were moral and justified."
Far-left environmental groups have long pressed the federal government to declare a national climate emergency, but the calls have entered the Democratic Party's mainstream in recent years. Biden reportedly considered issuing a climate emergency declaration last summer but stopped short, prompting criticism from climate activists. Months later, in October 2022, a group of eight Democratic senators urged Biden to declare the emergency, arguing that he could not reach his emission reduction goals without the declaration.
"We will only achieve these targets if you build off the momentum of the Inflation Reduction Act with strong executive action," wrote the group, which included Rhode Island's Sheldon Whitehouse, California's Alex Padilla, and Maryland's Chris Van Hollen. "We urge you to take the important next step of declaring a climate emergency and unlocking the full tools at your disposal to address this crisis."
A climate emergency declaration would allow Biden to unlock COVID-esque emergency powers to fight climate change through executive order. Under a climate emergency, for example, Biden could use the Defense Production Act to stimulate green energy generation. He could also deploy the military to build green energy projects near military installments around the country.
Declare Emergency has long blocked highways around D.C., including last year on Independence Day. In October 2022, meanwhile, the group planned a "week of arrest," which then-leader Donald Zepeda said was necessary to spur climate action. "What people are interested in and concerned about is the sacrifice element," Zepeda told the Washington Free Beacon. "So I don't think we're going to have actions without arrests."
Residents in D.C. and Northern Virginia can expect similar protests from the group "in the coming weeks and months," Swisher told FOX 5. Those demonstrations are not likely to make Declare Emergency any friends. One local resident trashed the group's Wednesday protest in an interview with FOX 5, saying the demonstration forced her to miss a medical appointment for her dog.
"It's something that's a very important cause, of course, but you're now having all these people idle, and you're also now making them angry," the woman said. "If you want people to be attentive to your cause, making them angry is not the way to do it, especially at 9 o'clock on a Wednesday morning."