The Washington Post

Activists disrupt Congressio­nal Baseball Game

Three demonstrat­ors arrested as dozens demand climate action

- BY HAU CHU AND CLARENCE WILLIAMS

Three protesters were arrested and charged with unlawful entry at the annual Congressio­nal Baseball Game at Nationals Park on Thursday as dozens of climate activists turned out to demand more urgent action on climate change.

Before the start of the game, long a tradition in Washington, the activists moved toward the center field entry gate to disrupt those seeking to come into the stadium. Police formed lines to separate demonstrat­ors from attendees.

Outside the park, two activists — both wearing togas and laurel wreaths — played violins in an attempt to invoke the apocryphal story of the Roman emperor Nero.

Although there were long lines of people waiting to enter the game, it was not clear the protest had much effect on the attendees. Stadium workers opened other entry points to allow access.

Organizers behind the protest had to reformulat­e their plans less than 24 hours before the game after the announceme­nt of an agreement between Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.VA.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) on a spending package

aimed at lowering health-care costs, combat climate change and reduce the federal deficit. Most of the new spending is focused on climate change and clean energy production.

On Thursday, 10 activists unaffiliat­ed with the demonstrat­ion at the entry gate stood on the second deck of Nationals Park to unfurl a banner that read, “They Play Ball While The World Burns,” and showered the field with leaflets.

“It’s just branding,” Reilly Polka, one of the activists, said of the Senate agreement. “When you read it, they’re just giving more subsidies to oil. It looks like a really good thing, but it’s not enough.”

As activists dropped leaflets,

people in the crowd below told them, “Go to the other side. We work for Democrats.” Police took the banner from the protesters before asking them to leave the stadium.

Shortly after, activists from the demonstrat­ion outside the ballpark raised red banners in left field that spelled out “climate emergency.” Police took the signs from protesters, who remained standing and chanting, and officers formed a line around them before departing.

Outside the game, activists said they supported the Senate agreement but remained skeptical. Demonstrat­ors speaking to the crowd urged President Biden to declare a climate emergency to exercise executive power on additional climate investment.

Sourish Dey, 17, a spokespers­on for the activists, said additional action is vital.

“We took in-your-face actions because Congress has failed to take serious action,” Dey said. “They’ve known about this crisis since well before I was born.”

After the deal on the spending package was announced, some of the original organizers of the rally pulled out from participat­ing. Some of the activists who spoke to The Washington Post said they were torn about the potential benefits of the proposed legislatio­n and whether the demonstrat­ions were still worth the political capital.

Mike Tidwell, executive director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and CCAN Action Fund, wrote on Wednesday in a Post op-ed, “I’ll be attending the 87th annual Congressio­nal Baseball Game Thursday at Nationals Park. I won’t be there as a fan, peacefully cracking my peanuts. I’ll be there as a protester, peacefully engaged in civil disobedien­ce.”

But hours before the game, Tidwell said in a news release: “We have decided not to protest tonight’s Congressio­nal Baseball Game. Congressio­nal leaders have declared they intend to meet many of our climate and justice demands, so we’ll be attending the game tonight just to urge Congress to seal the deal and to ask Joe Biden to still declare a climate emergency.”

 ?? PHOTOS by Craig Hudson for THE Washington POST ?? Demonstrat­ors demand more urgent action on climate change Thursday from the stands at Nationals Park in D.C. during the Congressio­nal Baseball Game. Activists called on President Biden to declare a climate emergency and exercise executive power.
PHOTOS by Craig Hudson for THE Washington POST Demonstrat­ors demand more urgent action on climate change Thursday from the stands at Nationals Park in D.C. during the Congressio­nal Baseball Game. Activists called on President Biden to declare a climate emergency and exercise executive power.
 ?? ?? Police detain a climate activist. On the second deck of the stadium, activists unfurled a protest banner and tossed leaflets.
Police detain a climate activist. On the second deck of the stadium, activists unfurled a protest banner and tossed leaflets.

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