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27 arrested after activists demand Gov. Baker take 'bold, transformational steps' on climate crisis

Boston.com logo Boston.com 12/9/2019 Christopher Gavin
a group of people standing next to a man in a military uniform: Students and activists take part in a sit-in at Gov. Charlie Baker's office Friday morning in an act to demand action to reduce carbon emissions. © Erin Clark for the Boston Globe Students and activists take part in a sit-in at Gov. Charlie Baker's office Friday morning in an act to demand action to reduce carbon emissions.

Hundreds of young climate activists calling on lawmakers to take swift action for a Massachusetts Green New Deal Friday charged the halls of the State House, where 27 people were arrested after they refused to leave.

In signs, songs, and chants, the advocates demanded Gov. Charlie Baker and Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo advance and pass a group of bills focused on environmental justice and cutting carbon emissions, including a goal of 100 percent renewable-sourced electricity by 2035, among other efforts.

“We thought that our politicians would be holding us up and standing with us when were facing something as bold as the climate crisis, but they are not and we are standing here alone,” said Sarah Duckett, an organizer for the local chapter of the Sunrise Movement, a national youth-led climate grassroots group that helped organize the rally.

Demonstrators sat in Baker’s office for several hours to seek that he take “bold, transformational steps to stop the climate crisis now,” Duckett told the crowd in video recorded at the protest.

“We are here again today to make sure of two things: That he pass a Mass. Power Forward action and that he commit to a statewide Green New Deal for the state of Massachusetts,” she said to cheers.

Twenty seven adult demonstrators who refused to leave the building after it closed to the public at 5 p.m. were arrested and charged with trespassing in a state building, a misdemeanor offense, according to Dave Procopio, a spokesman for the Massachusetts State Police.

The arrests were made without incident and the protest was peaceful, Procopio said. Those arrested are expected to appear in Boston Municipal Court this week.

The rally kicked off at 10:30 a.m. in Copley Square before demonstrators made their way to the State House, WBUR reports.

“(Baker) has the power to do something about the climate crisis and he is doing nothing,” 20-year-old activist Ross Quinn told the crowd outside the governor’s office. “But Baker’s not the only one we’re here to talk to. Right now, we’re also standing outside of Speaker of the House Bob DeLeo’s office because he also has the power to push these bills through committee and into law and he is not doing his job.”

Boos erupted in the crowd.

“Both of these old men are scared of a bunch of kids,” Quinn added.

With lawmakers out of formal session, many officials were not on Beacon Hill Friday, The Boston Globe reports.

In a statement, DeLeo told the newspaper the House passed GreenWorks, a $1.3 billion program, this summer to help cities and towns curb emissions and tackle the local climate change impacts they face, including rising seas and floods.

The grant program gives state leaders the ability to borrow $1.3 billion, with an annual $100 million going to GreenWorks for a decade.

DeLeo told The Globe other bills “remain under review.”

A spokesperson for Baker’s office did not immediately return a request for comment Monday morning.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd posing for the camera: Windsor High School student Imogen Cabot, 16, takes part in a chant with other activists as they assembled in front of Gov. Charlie Baker’s office. © Provided by Boston.com Windsor High School student Imogen Cabot, 16, takes part in a chant with other activists as they assembled in front of Gov. Charlie Baker’s office.

Last year, an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report indicated that greenhouse gas emissions must be halved by 2030 and brought to net zero by 2050 to avoid catastrophic climate impacts.

Among the several bills included in the Mass. Power Forward legislative agenda activists rallied around Friday, “An Act Re-Powering Massachusetts With 100 Percent Renewable Energy,” sets a goal for the state to acquire all of its electricity from renewable energy by 2035.

By 2045, renewable sources would be required for all energy in the state, including transportation and heating, under the bill.

Cambridge state Rep. Marjorie Decker, a co-sponsor, also filed a similar bill last session, according to The Globe.

“It is not unusual for bills of this magnitude to actually go through the legislative process for a few terms,” Decker told the newspaper.

However, she added, “That’s hard to accept when we know the science screams for immediate, urgent action.”

Other bills in the agenda are geared towards developing sustainable transportation and using a carbon fee to pay for investments in green infrastructure.

According to WBUR, other demonstrators rallied around calls to institute a carbon tax and for Baker to stop a proposed electrical substation in East Boston as well as the controversial Weymouth Gas Compressor Station.

“I’m here because nothing has been done for way too long now, and the more we put pressure on our politicians and those in power, the more stuff will start to get done,” Jamie Gareh, 21, told the radio station.

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