Sustainability Climate Change

Jane Fonda leads stars in final ‘Fire Drill Friday’ climate protest at the Capitol

Jane Fonda hosted her final Fire Drill Friday climate protest in Washington, D.C., this week, summing up the progress of the demonstrations and talking about where they are headed next.

“All of us remember three and a half months ago, the very first Fire Drill Friday, there were maybe 20 people,” Fonda said, staring out to more than 300 participants on the Capitol’s Southeast lawn.

She has been heavily involved in social protests since her youth and has been a lightning rod for criticism for just as long — especially for her activities during the Vietnam War, for which she later apologized.

“We’re building an army, folks,” Fold told the crowd Friday. “We gotta make it big.”

Joining her in this week’s protest were several famous Hollywood actors, including Joaquin Phoenix, Susan Sarandon and Martin Sheen.

Sheen, also well-known for his decades of activism on climate change and workers’ rights, channeled his inner-Josiah Barlett, his famous presidential role on “The West Wing,” to deliver a parable:

“You know the Irish tell the story of a man who arrives at the gates of heaven and asked to be let in.

“St. Peter says, ‘Of course, just show us your scars.’ The man says, ‘I have no scars.’ St. Peter says, ‘What a pity, was there nothing worth fighting for?'”

Activist-journalist Naomi Klein, author of “On Fire” and “The Shock Doctrine,” delivered an impassioned speech about the importance of giving people a way to get involved on the issue of climate change. 

“What is so special about Fire Drill Fridays is that it has created this amazing entry point,” she said. “This is an on ramp for people who are sitting alone in their homes, feeling desperate.”

Fresh off of a win at the Golden Globes for his role in “Joker,” Phoenix took the stage briefly to talk about the impact of our eating habits on the planet.

“There is something that you can do today, right now and tomorrow, by making a choice about what you consume,” he said. “And I think that it’s something that is doable.” 

The larger message of Fonda’s final planned D.C. rally pointed towards a larger effort to unite activists, actors and everyday people to influence institutions that invest in fossil fuels. 

After a series of speeches, protesters moved to the steps of the Capitol, chanting “Oceans are rising and so are we,” as Capitol Police monitored them.

Fonda, Sheen, Phoenix and many other protesters ascended the steps chanting until they were arrested and taken away, one by one.

After today’s appearance, Fonda said she planned to return to California to film her show, “Grace and Frankie.” 

“Today is the last Fire Drill Friday in D.C.,” said Fonda, “but I want us all to remember the student climate strikers who were here before me and will continue after me. They are here every Friday.” 

The weekly demonstrations will now be led by Greenpeace, which has planned the next rally for Feb. 7 in Los Angeles.

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