In his ruling, Judge Robert Mandelbaum found that the NYPD's order to disperse was unlawful, and that by ordering protesters to leave the entire Wall Street area, police violated protesters' First Amendment right to carry their message directly to its intended recipients: the Wall Street bankers who bankroll climate change. Defense Attorney Jonathan Wallace successfully argued that the Constitution protects citizen's rights to express political speech within proximity to the target of the protest. In this case, the NYPD first prevented protesters from entering Wall Street before later ordering them to leave the area altogether. This pattern of policing proved to be the Prosecution's undoing. Judge Mandelbaum also broke new ground by taking judicial notice that climate change is happening, is a serious problem, requires immediate action, and is caused by human activity.
Flood Wall Street
If you went Jacob Riis beach this summer, you undoubtedly noticed the view obstructed by an offshore oil rig, part of a Williams Transco project that, once completed, will run a high-pressure liquid natural gas (LNG) pipeline along beaches, and right under Flatbush Ave. in Brooklyn. This oil rig is not only an eyesore, but drilling fluids from the construction are deposited on the ocean floor. The new higher-pressure pipeline also threatens residents’ safety, as gas pipelines sometimes explode. Our action was justified and we would do it again. The latest news from Lima, Peru where U.N. climate negotiators are currently meeting and once again failing to adequately address the climate crisis reminds us all that we cannot stand idlely by when so much is at stake. Meanwhile from Massachusetts to Michigan to Manhattan, climate justice activists have invoked the necessity defense in the past 12 months. We expect this to become an increasingly common practice in the years ahead. In our case, we urge the Judge to listen closely to the arguments we are ready to make about the existential threat Wall Street poses to the climate. Beyond what happens in the courtroom, we hope to inspire others to act boldly and take action to ensure our survival.
The following Monday [from the Climate March], a much smaller group numbering in the thousands stormed through the Financial District en route to Wall Street and staged a “sit-in” large enough to wreak havoc on traffic and commerce in the area for the entire day. As a result, the “Flood Wall Street” action received more press coverage than the previous day and more than 100 protesters (including a large polar bear) were arrested for failing to disperse after being confronted by the NYPD. While protesters being arrested in New York City has become a common occurrence since the 2011 evolution of Occupy Wall Street, the affirmative “necessity defense” being asserted by the 12 protesters who entered a plea of not guilty is definitely worthy of note because it is so seldomly used, it could actually work.
“What is overwhelming about the climate challenge is that it requires breaking so many rules at once.” – Naomi Klein Early Monday evening I sat down in the street at the intersection of Broadway and Wall Street with a polar bear, two women dressed as Captain Planet, and almost 100 other people. Following a vibrant day of unpermitted Flood Wall Street protests that drew as many as 3,000 demonstrators to Lower Manhattan, we locked arms and insisted that this symbolic piece of real estate should remain occupied through the following day when world leaders were scheduled to gather at the United Nations to continue discussions about how to address climate change.
Vaishali Badil came to New York from India because of climate disruption from coal plants in her country. She expressed concern that India’s Prime Minister was not taking part in the United Nations Climate Change discussions. “Climate change is not only a problem for India but the U.S. As well as Africa, South America-the whole world,” she said. A front line responder during Typhoon Haiyan in the Phillipines, Efleda Baudista traveled to the People’s Climate March to remind others of the impact climate disruption is having on her country. “Haiyan is an example of what climate change can do,” she said. She carried a flag with an image of people reaching to form the shape of a planet. It was titled ‘People Surge.’
It may sound like it’ll cost a lot to fight climate change. But it may cost more to stay on our current course of taking little action. The cost of failing to adapt could be a staggering $1,240 trillion, compared to $890 trillion if we make changes. The U.S. director of the Office of Management and Budget has estimated that it will cost the United States billions of dollars if we fail to act, given the cost of increasingly intense damage from storms, wildfires, and drought. Climate change will also hamper important pieces of our economic system. If greenhouse gas emissions continue on their current path, we’ll experience a 50 percent drop in labor productivity by the end of the century thanks to heat stress. The cost of such a decrease could be more than that of all other climate change costs combined. A changing climate will also devastate an important sector of the economy: agriculture. With increasing droughts, heat waves, and changing precipitation patterns, it’s likely that we’ll see a 40 percent crop reduction by 2100 if things continue as they are.
The Flood Wall Street Protest began at the WW II Memorial in Battery Park at the lower tip of Manhattan at 9:00 AM. Speakers from around the world representing people from Africa, Central America, South America, North America and Asia spoke to the crowd of approximately 3,000 about how climate change is already impacting their environment and lives with droughts, floods, heat waves and massive storms. The group than practiced the resistance action of the day -- flowing like water down in the financial district leading to a sit-in, in an undisclosed area. . . .they surrounded the iconic Wall Street bull, the Flood Wall Streeters sat down and blocked the streets. The sit-in lasted from about noon until just before 4:00 PM when the group decided to march to Wall Street for the closing bell of the trading session. . . In the end, approximately 50 people were arrested.