Climate Activists Protest and Rally at Rhode Island Statehouse

A weekend of training for climate activists ended with a sit-in and rally at the Statehouse in Providence. (Tim Faulkner/ecoRI News photos)

A weekend of training for climate activists ended with a sit-in and rally at the Statehouse in Providence. (Tim Faulkner/ecoRI News photos)

Videos and text by TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff

PROVIDENCE — A weekend of training for climate activists with the Sunrise Movement ended Sept. 9 with a rally and a sit-in at the Statehouse. Some 15 activists occupied an administrative office of Gov. Gina Raimondo while a demonstration took place in the rotunda.

State Police responded but no arrests were made. The activists left after about two hours of chanting, singing, and speeches urging Raimondo to endorse the Green New Deal and take a pledge to no longer accept campaign contributions from fossil-fuel companies.

Raimondo was seen leaving the Statehouse but didn’t address the protesters.

The sit-in at an administrative office of Gov. Gina Raimondo.

The sit-in at an administrative office of Gov. Gina Raimondo.

Before heading to the Statehouse, activists gave speeches at Burnside Park and then marched to the office of Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I. Sunrise members met with Whitehouse staff members and urged the senator to endorse the Green New Deal and sign the pledge to renounces donations from the fossil-fuel industry.

The regional summit, held Sept. 7-9 and hosted by the Rhode Island chapter of the Sunrise Movement, was expected to draw about 500 attendees. Most activists were in their late teens and early 20s and from across the Northeast.

“I’m here because I want to fight for my future and make sure we have a livable future for my generation,” said Naomi Hollard, a fellow with the Sunrise chapter in Philadelphia.

Providence resident Samy Amkeih gave a speech about Raimondo’s support for fossil-fuel infrastructure and the need to elect political leaders who support staking aggressive action to address the climate crisis.

“It is clear that our governor cannot do that for us,” Amkeih said. “And she needs to join us instead of standing in the way of a fight for a livable future.”

Providence hosted the summit because of its large and active Sunrise Movement chapter that is seen as taking a leadership role in advancing the Green New Deal.

The training was also expected to energize climate activism ahead of the protests expected during the Global Climate Strike scheduled for Sept. 20-27.