At the rally preceding our “Occupy Biden,” New Year’s Day march in Wilmington to the house of the President, I read this poem, created the day before specifically for this event:
“We are here because our planet is burning–
by global overheating caused by burning coal, oil and gas.
“For 7 days, 7 nights, 168 hours,
we held this outdoor space for all of the life forms,
all of the ecosystems, all of the children
and grandchildren and the 7 generations to come.
“We experienced cold, snow and sleet, lots of rain,
wind, the sun, the elements which make this world,
this beautiful, anguished world, the miracle that it is.
“Throughout, saying, Biden Be Bold–
declare climate emergency–
no new fossil fuel projects–
do the right thing, and do it now!
“All the while, some of us connecting to
the Higher Powers, Higher Love, what some call God,
praying, as in the words of an Anishinabe prayer:
“’Grandfather, look at our brokenness.
“’We know that in all creation only the human family
has strayed from the Sacred Way.
“’And we know that we are the ones
who must come back together to walk the Sacred Way.
“’Grandfather, Sacred One, teach us
Love, Compassion and Honor,
So we may heal the earth
and heal each other.’”
We were very pleased the day following this march to see this story in Wilmington’s major daily newspaper/website: Dozens march to Biden’s home seeking climate emergency declaration (delawareonline.com). It’s an accurate portrayal of what happened.
The week-long encampment was the idea of local Wilmington climate justice activists, with Karen Igou of Extinction Rebellion playing a central role. A number of other groups got actively involved over the little more than a month that Occupy Biden went from an idea to an actuality, beginning on Christmas Day.
Our camp was literally right by the side of a six lane highway, Delaware Route 141. With the exception of the very late night and early morning hours, there was always significant traffic. I’d estimate 50,000 or more vehicles came by us, and we were very visible. There were honks in support, and a much lesser number of anti-Biden shout-outs.
Some of those driving by, or from the local area, stopped to talk to us. Each day there were people who came by with whom we had worthwhile discussions.
Some of those who stopped seemed to think we were anti-Biden, but we explained that we weren’t. We explained that we were there to press him to exert much stronger leadership on the climate emergency, as well as on a number of other justice and survival issues.
There’s no question that some Biden supporters were not pleased with what we were doing. Their view was that we should go after Manchin and Sinema. We said, yes, they need to be pressured, for sure, but the fact is that Biden is the President, he has powers neither of them do, and he should be using them now to lead on this rapidly deepening existential crisis.
We undertook this action thinking, hoping, that the Bidens would be in their home ¾ of a mile from our encampment at some point during this winter holiday week, and they were! Wednesday evening they came from their Rehobeth Beach, De. house to this one, apparently via a helicopter which went overhead about the 7 pm time we had been told by friendly press they were supposed to arrive. By the next morning we had set up people with signs at either end of the long road they lived on. And then on Friday, a 15 car, black-SUV’s-prominent Biden motorcade, came right past us at our checkpoint on Route 141 and then right by our camp. We all chanted, “Biden Be Bold,” as loud as we could. It was a definite highpoint.
It is a good thing that the idea of Biden using his powers to issue Executive Orders on climate and other issues is a growing thing. It was first put forward at the People Vs. Fossil Fuels, Indigenous-led actions at the White House on October 11-15 where 655 people were arrested. Pramilla Jayapal, chair of the Progressive Caucus in the House of Representatives, is now publicly calling for its use given the Manchin/Sinema problem. The Guardian newspaper has called for its use.
It is outrageous that the heavily compromised, $1.75 trillion Build Back Better act was not passed last year. But even if it had been, more is needed. And that more is only going to happen because of a massive political mobilization this year, in the streets and to the polls. Biden and Congressional Democrats need to keep feeling the heat from our people’s movement to use every means at their disposal to deliver results for our struggling peoples. If they do, then we will be strengthened in our efforts to generate a massive turnout of youth, people of color, women and working class people on November 8th to defeat the neo-fascist Republicans in their voter suppression efforts.
People and the planet need action now, and working class people of all colors and cultures need to be given reasons to come out and vote!
Ted Glick works with Beyond Extreme Energy and is president of 350NJ-Rockland. Past writings and other information, including about Burglar for Peace and 21st Century Revolution, two books published by him in 2020 and 2021, can be found at https://tedglick.com. He can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jtglick