Oscar-winning actress and activist Jane Fonda joined a coalition of climate activist groups in Midtown on Wednesday to picket outside a high-end fundraiser for President Joe Biden.
The commander-in-chief himself attended the swanky soiree at the home of former Blackstone executive Tony James, where guests paid a reported $25,000 per plate to help Biden’s re-election bid in 2024. The protesters gathered a few blocks away, at Dorris C. Freedman Plaza, on May 10 to chastise Biden for not doing enough to confront the climate crisis affecting the world.
Fonda, a prominent voice in the fight to save the environment, thanked the protesters for their courage by engaging in non-violent civil disobedience with marches and protests.
“We have to up the ante now. The opportunity to save the planet and our future, the window on that is closing rapidly,” Fonda said. “And we have to do something about it, and we have to be very brave.”
She recalled documentaries showing Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil RightsMovement, who never wavered despite facing cops, water cannons, and police dogs.
“Have you ever seen a documentary like that and asked yourself, would I be brave enough? Would I be able to stand up for that? This is our documentary moment.” Fonda said. “And you all are being very brave.”
Critics say that Biden — who ran on a slew of climate promises in 2020, like hitting net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and stopping fossil fuel extraction on public lands — has been negating these promises.
In February, Biden gave the green light to the Willow project, a massive oil drilling project in Alaska’s North Slope that will produce up to 750 billion barrels of oil and 287 million tons of carbon emissions over 30 years. Environmentalists have called it a “carbon bomb” that, they claim, would endanger the North Slope’s vast ecosystem and Native American tribes and speed up global warming.
A petition calling on the Biden administration to nix the Willow project has garnered over 5 million signatures.
According to data from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Biden administration has approved 6,420 gas and drilling permits in its first two years in office, more than the 6,172 permits the Trump White House signed off on in its first two years. And in March, the Biden administration announced more drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico, spanning over 1.5 million acres — an area roughly equal to the size of Italy.
Michael Greenberg from Washington, D.C. is a member of Climate Defiance and participated in the climate protests at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner a few weeks ago. Greenberg said that climate activists voted for Biden because of Biden’s climate mandate.
“Now we need him to follow through, keep his promise, and do as the science and the morality demands,” Greenberg said.
Steven Donziger, a climate activist and lawyer who fought Chevron on behalf of the Ecuadorian people, pointed out that the movement to protect democracy was tied to the climate movement and warned that those in power “have a playbook.”
“It is to silence us when we become too effective,” Donzinger warned.
Roni Zahavi-Drunner, who lives in Brooklyn, said that with each new fossil fuel project Biden is signing off on, he was also signing a death sentence.
“He is sucking up to his corporate lobbyists and the billionaires who are paying for his campaign,” Zahavi-Drunner said. “He is failing on being a president that actually cares about people’s lives.”
After the rally, the climate protesters marched a few blocks up 5th Avenue until they reached the “frozen zone” — or high-security area — barring vehicles and pedestrians from entering, chanting, “Wall Street Joe you can’t hide, we can see your greedy side!”
With a megaphone in hand, one of the protesters had a message for the president and his re-election bid.
“As he runs for president, we are here to send a message to Joseph Biden that he is not going to get reelected with all of those who supported him when he said he would shut down fossil fuel projects across this country,” the protestor shouted, promising “to stay on Joe Biden this entire presidential campaign.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The protest occurred hours before Biden’s expected opponent in the 2024 election, former President Donald Trump, appeared on CNN in a controversial town hall, during which Trump said he would pardon a number of the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection participants and lied about Biden’s record on gas prices and energy production.