At least 15 NEIS members went to New York City to march in the historic Climate March on Sept. 20th, marching with over 2,500 others from around the country in the event’s “No Nukes!” Nuclear Free/Carbon Free contingent. A lot of our friends from Frack Free Illinois were also there. Over 1,000 bright yellow flags and signs made an unmistakably clear point to New York and the world: “Nuclear Power? – No Thanks!”
The huge organized turnout of the safe-energy, anti-nuclear contingent was largely the effort of Nuclear Information and Resource Service and its president, Michael Mariotte. NIRS coordinated national planning calls for months prior to the march. This organizing paid off, as thousands marched under the “Nuclear Power? – No Thanks!” banners and signs.
Mariotte had arranged for the contingent to have a uniform and eye-catching look. NIRS arranged for the purchase of 650 bright yellow flags with the sun circled by the “Nuclear Power? – No Thanks!” message printed in 5 languages. This symbol originated in Germany, and is a universal symbol in European marches and demonstrations. In addition nearly 400 black signs on cardboard tube poles with the message, “Don’t Nuke the Climate!” were also passed out. This, along with huge homemade banners from a number of other organizations from many states helped the contingent stand out visually.
NIRS and Mariotte also arranged for the contingent to be one of only four issues to have their own pre-March rally with speakers and a mainstage with sound. This rally took place at 73rd and Central former residence of John Lennon and site of his assassination. Speakers included Dr. Arjun Makhijani of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, Leona Morgan from Diné No Nukes, Japanese activist Yuko Tonohira, Jessica Azulay (AGREE), working to close Indian Point; Hunter Lovins, with Rockt Mt. Institute; and Julia Walsh (Frack Action & New Yorkers Against Fracking). Mariotte and Mary Olson of NIRS moderated the rally. Musical interludes were provided by the Raging Grannies group.
While the mainstream media largely ignored or trivialized the March and the rich variety of causes and messages present, Democracy Now! did an especially good job of highlighting the message that nuclear has no legitimate role to play in solving the global climate crisis. In particular interviews with Bianca Jagger, author Naomi Klein, and Asad Rehman of Friends of the Earth hammered this theme home hard in D/N segments.
It is known that Sierra Club and other organizations sponsored buses, trains and other means of getting people from Illinois to attend the March. Given the estimated 410,000 people marching, it is safe to say that several thousand people from Illinois came to New York to rally for climate action.
In addition to participating in the historic march, NEIS Board president Gail Snyder conducted a workshop on “Exelon’s nuclear war on renewables” on Saturday at the people’s Climate Convergence Conference, held at St. John’s University. On Saturday afternoon NEIS Director Dave Kraft participated in a NIRS-organized strategy panel attended by nearly 70 safe-energy leaders from organizations from around the country.
Our friends at Frack Free Illinois invited NEIS participants to attend a premiere showing of Josh Fox’s new “Solutions Grassroots Tour” performance in Brooklyn after the Sunday March. Ten members from the two groups heavily lobbied Fox to bring the show to Chicago and parts of Illinois sometime soon.
On Monday after the March, NEIS director Dave Kraft also participated in a demonstration outside the U.N. with activists from Okinawa protesting the planned new U.S. naval base on the island.
By far, this writer’s favorite sign at the March was small but powerful: “Respect Existence, or Expect Resistance!” If there is any take-away that we can bring back to you here, it’s simply this: over 400,000 people say “No more business as usual!” on the climate crisis. And well over 2,000 marched saying, “Get the Nukes out of the EPA carbon rules!” We now have to translate that resolve and energy into concrete action. O