The previous day’s historic 400,000-person People’s Climate March showed widespread support to continue shouting at buildings at the Flood Wall Street sit-in which was happening in conjunction with United Nations Climate Summit.
This sit-in was advertised by billion-dollar environmental corporations like 350.org and AVAAZ as the follow-up opportunity to “confront” Wall Street in an attempt to entice those rightfully skeptical of corporations influencing each other to end climate change. These white environmental organizations connected the climate movement and capitalism to create a street performance of ineffective nonviolent direct action theater in the financial district of New York.
Thousands of people attempted to pressure financial institutions and the capitalist economic system by “flooding” New York’s Wall Street district with people donning blue, trying to mimic water and waving large banners and other props.
Battery Park in New York was the morning’s mobilization site and also where the settler Occupy Movement was centralized. This event would be just another confusing white organizing moment that would start at that location. Naomi Klein who was on a book tour about capitalism was joined by Bill McKibbon on the stage to start this day’s NGO performance.
Those of us that had specific tasks were making last-minute touches on the art to be used and deployed throughout the day. After our final checks, Artur from Tools for Action pulled me aside to let me know the Carbon Bubble targets. The next and most important phase would be navigating through New York City traffic, its street obstacles and its police stationed along the route to stop and destroy these inflatable sculptures before their deployment.
After the nonprofit grandstanding, the crowd marched moving north from Battery Park to the first target of the day, the Charging Bull which was located on State and Broadway. Large art sculptures kept pace with the crowd in the city streets and at times were actually overtaking vehicles in oncoming traffic. What will never be forgotten was the faces of drivers stuck in morning traffic watching and reacting to these huge inflatable installations rolling over them.
The first Carbon Bubble made it to the Charging Bull and was deployed. It was consequently popped by law enforcement which played into the narrative being woven into the event of how the state protects corporations. Police relaxed until they discovered there was a second Carbon Bubble being inflated and repaired to continue our orchestrated performances with them unbeknownst to themselves.
After more shouting and theatrics, nonprofit organizers would at various times throughout the day stall moving the mass sit-in to Wall Street before the closing bell. Instead, they chose to occupy lower Broadway which was a quarter of a mile away. This was an organizational failure in terms of directly challenging any financial power. The sit-in eventually moved to Wall Street but only after police had fortified their position there with various barricades and riot formations. There were feeble disruption attempts at the barricades but the closing bell had rung long before and the police were dug in ready to kettle the crowd from 3 sides. After some formalities of riot spray, the sit-in dissipated to 100 people who were arrested by the NYPD. Charges stemming from this action were lessened and some were later dropped.
This event was billed as a call to action from the Climate Justice Alliance, a global coalition of Indigenous peoples, people of color, and poor and working-class communities bearing the brunt of the climate crisis. However, I saw none of our people calling any shots during the day.
This event turned out to be exactly like the People’s Climate March. At some point, we Indigenous People must recognize these gatherings as what they are – a whitewashed nonprofit event where green-flavored capitalism was advocated for and direct power remains unchallenged. We all know there are no wrenches big enough to disrupt capitalism’s gears when they are turning in unison from the same corporate profit agendas.