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Jane Fonda Arrested: We Are in a Climate Emergency. I Have No Choice But to Put My Body on the Line

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A new round of protests, Fire Drill Fridays, led by actress Jane Fonda are calling for action to address the climate crisis, as bushfires fueled by a historic heat wave threaten Australia, high tides threaten to flood Venice, and the Philippines prepares for a Christmas typhoon. Last Friday, a day before Jane Fonda's 82nd birthday, the longtime political activist, feminist and two-time Academy Award winner was arrested for the fifth time, as she has been nearly every Friday in Washington since she started Fire Drill Fridays, inspired in part by the Swedish youth climate activist Greta Thunberg. She was arrested along with more than 140 others inside the Hart Senate Office Building, and demonstrators sang "Happy Birthday" to her as she was taken outside.

This month Jane Fonda wrote an op-ed in The New York Times headlined "We Have to Live Like We're in a Climate Emergency. Because We Are." In it, she writes, "It should come as no surprise that I believe in the power of protest. That's why I moved to Washington to start what I call Fire Drill Fridays, joining the millions of young people around the world who turned out in the fall for protests to demand that our leaders act to save their futures." We speak with Jane Fonda about her climate activism and why she started Fire Drill Fridays.

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AMY GOODMAN: As bushfires fueled by a historic heat wave threaten Australia, high tides threaten to flood Venice, Italy, and the Philippines prepare for a Christmas typhoon, we begin today's show with a new round of protests calling for action to address the climate crisis. Last Friday, a day before Jane Fonda's 82nd birthday, the two-time Academy Award-winning actress and longtime political activist was arrested for the fifth time, as she has been nearly every Friday in Washington, D.C., since she started Fire Drill Fridays in October, inspired in part by the Swedish youth climate activist Greta Thunberg. Jane Fonda was arrested along with more than 140 others inside the Hart Senate Office Building. Demonstrators sang to her as she was taken outside.

PROTESTERS: [singing] Happy Birthday to you!

JANE FONDA: Thank you so much!

AMY GOODMAN: This month, Jane Fonda wrote an op-ed in The New York Times headlined "We Have to Live Like We're in a Climate Emergency. Because We Are." In it, Fonda said, quote, "It should come as no surprise that I believe in the power of protest. That's why I moved to Washington to start what I call Fire Drill Fridays, joining the millions of young people around the world who turned out in the fall for protests to demand that our leaders act to save their futures," she wrote.

Well, on Monday, Jane Fonda joined us from Washington, D.C., and I asked her about her new organization and her protests and arrests around Fire Drill Fridays.

JANE FONDA: I wanted to pick up the call that Greta sent out: "Get out of your comfort zone. This is a crisis." And so I decided to actually move my body to this place, the center of power in the United States, and do what I could to raise the sense of urgency, try to get other people, older people, to join me. I have been told that since Fire Drill Fridays began, more older people are now joining Greta's rallies over in Europe, which makes me very happy.

AMY GOODMAN: So, talk about why this issue, why the climate catastrophe we're facing around the world, why it's this that has grabbed you now, as you turn 82?

JANE FONDA: The science is what grabbed me, when I realized that the climate scientists are unanimous in saying this is a crisis. Because we didn't act sooner, our carbon budget, the amount of carbon that we can continue to emit, has gotten very, very small, and we have 10 years to reduce it. And the science is very clear; there are not two sides to the story. And the scientists themselves say the only way that human beings are going to be able to force their governments to do what's needed is to mobilize in an unprecedented numbers.

Well, I know about mobilizing. I've done it before. I've experienced what happens when very large numbers demand something. And so I decided I was going to try to lend my platform. I have a hit television series, so, you know, that's helpful when you're an activist, to try to get more people. We're building an army. The senators that I met with from the Senate Task Force on Climate Change said, "You're building an army. Make it big. We need pressure from the outside."

And historically, we've seen that's what's -- all the things that are important that ever happened, it's because millions of people have demanded it. You know, during the New Deal in the 1930s, millions of people were rising up because they were desperate, and they demanded change, jobs, programs that would help them, of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. And he said to them, "I agree with you. Now go out and make me do it." So, I've gone out and joined with the young people to try to make them do it.

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Democracy Now!  is a national, daily, independent, award-winning news program hosted by journalists Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez. Pioneering the largest public media collaboration in the U.S., Democracy Now! is broadcast on (more...)
 
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