Dozens of protesters were arrested after they waged a sit-in at the Interior Department on Thursday to protest fossil fuel projects.
People vs. Fossil Fuels, which organized a five-day protest event aimed at pressing President BidenJoe BidenBiden to provide update Monday on US response to omicron variant Restless progressives eye 2024 Emhoff lights first candle in National Menorah-lighting ceremony MORE to declare climate change an emergency and compel him to stop approving fossil fuel projects, reported on Thursday that 55 people had been arrested during the sit-in.
The group alleged that police had “acted aggressively with the water protectors” and had used stun guns on at least two people. They alleged that others had been hit with batons.
Footage and photos circulated online of people being arrested inside the building.
21 water protectors remain after most of the group has been arrested. Police will not tell us what charges they are being held on or where they are taking them #occupybia #expectus pic.twitter.com/TwycW8P5Z2— Jennifer K. Falcon (@JenniferKFalcon) October 14, 2021
“For the land, for our waters, for our future– we must fight now so our young will thrive. You can arrest us, tear gas us, poison us but there will always be more hearts to continue the song until we are all free,” Indigenous leaders who led the sit-in said in a statement.
In a statement following the event, Interior Department spokesperson Melissa Schwartz said that “multiple injuries were sustained by security personnel, and one officer has been transported to a nearby hospital.”
She said Interior Secretary Deb HaalandDeb HaalandInterior recommends imposing higher costs for public lands drilling Overnight Energy & Environment — White House announces new climate office Biden administration approves second offshore wind project off Rhode Island MORE, who is Native American, had been traveling and was not in Washington, D.C., during the event,
“Interior Department leadership believes strongly in respecting and upholding the right to free speech and peaceful protest. Centering the voices of lawful protesters is and will continue to be an important foundation of our democracy,” Schwartz said. “It is also our obligation to keep everyone safe. We will continue to do everything we can to de-escalate the situation while honoring first amendment rights.”
Statement from the Interior Dept: "Early this afternoon, a group of protestors entered the Stewart Lee Udall Main Interior Building. Federal Protective Service personnel responded to the area to mitigate the situation.— Melissa Schwartz (@MSchwartz3) October 14, 2021
The Federal Protective Service (FPS) did not indicate how many people had been arrested but noted in a statement that several other law enforcement agencies had assisted them in efforts "to detain, prosecute or take action against anyone who caused harm and attempted to disrupt the business of the federal government yesterday."
"FPS is committed to the safety of demonstrators participating in lawful protests and fully supports the peaceful expression of all people. FPS will continue to pursue our mission of ensuring the safety and security of federal employees and facilities, consistent with the law," the FPS said in a statement.
Updated at 6:29 p.m.