Walk for Our
ELDERS AND YOUTH ON THE ROAD TO CLIMATE JUSTICE
Rocking Chair Rebels Go to Trial For Challenging Chase Bank Funding of Climate Chaos
On June 28 fifteen elders ranging in age from 51 to 84 did something simple that many elders do: we sat in rocking chairs. But this time there was a difference: our group sat in rocking chairs in a major downtown intersection in Wilmington, Delaware in front of JP Morgan Chase's credit card headquarters. All 15 of us have children. Most have grandchildren. All of us wanted our simple, nonviolent, rocking chair action to draw attention to the fact that Chase's unconscionable investments in fossil fuels (amounting recently to more than $60 billion per year - the largest of any bank in the world) endanger not only our grandchildren but all life on earth. In our rocking chairs we wanted to tell the world that Chase Bank's funding of climate chaos must cease NOW.
We were arrested that day, and on November 12 we go on trial in a courthouse which is literally in the shadow of Chase Banks' high-rise headquarters. These shadows make us wonder if we can get a fair trial in Wilmington, which for decades has been extremely friendly to banks and other corporations (Wilmington is sometimes considered the Cayman Islands of the US). But interestingly, a couple blocks in the other direction is a 9 foot high statue of Harriet Tubman in Harriet Tubman-Thomas Garrett Park (Thomas Garrett was a prominent abolitionist). We know Harriet Tubman broke the law and risked her life repeatedly challenging slavery. Regardless of what the court does, we know that like her we are on the right side of history in challenging Chase and all other corporate and governmental enablers of climate change. Even if the court does not exonerate us, history will.
As criminal cases go, ours is not particularly complicated. We're charged with disorderly conduct, a low level misdemeanor, and the court wants so badly for us to go away that it has offered us a $10 fine if we will plead guilty, and help Wilmington avoid a trial challenging one of their premier corporate citizens. But 13 of us have demanded a trial anyway. We're going to base the defense of our actions not only on the shoulders of Harriet Tubman and other freedom fighters like her, but on a Delaware law called "Choice of Evils". Choice of Evils says that you can break a law in an emergency to prevent a more serious harm. In Court on November 12, the 13 of us are going to point out to the judge and the media and hopefully Chase Bank and the powers that be that our sitting in rocking chairs at Chase Bank was both morally necessary and legally justified in order to stop the catastrophes which we are already witnessing due to the climate chaos financed by Chase Bank and others (Hurricane Ida recently caused large-scale flooding in Wilmington).
Harriet Tubman, Thomas Garrett and many other freedom fighters have throughout history engaged in bold and risky actions to challenge oppression. In spite of the weakness of the courts, and the difficulties of winning a case like this one, we know their statues will be smiling from a few blocks away during our trial on November 12.
Trial Press Advisory:
“Choice of Evils” statute will guide defense of elders arrested in rocking chairs for blocking the street outside JP Morgan Chase credit card headquarters
Contact Steve Norris, 828.777.7816 or Melinda Tuhus, 203.623.2186
November 12 marks the end of the global climate summit known as COP 26 in Glasgow, Scotland, and also the trial of the Rocking Chair Rebels in Wilmington, Delaware. Since our arrest in late June for partially blocking a street in front of JP Morgan Chase credit card headquarters in Wilmington, the climate crisis has only worsened. The COP has not delivered what is needed to stave off disaster.
Expert testimony will be presented by physician Dr. Walter Tsou about the health effects of the climate crisis and by Carolyn McCoy about the successful campaign to convince PNC Bank to change its policies to better protect the climate. The pro se defendants will also be guided by expert opinion provided by climate scientist Dr. Tony Ingraffea, a professor at Cornell University, and Jason Disterhoft, who co-wrote a damning report on banks’ investments in fossil fuels, with JP Morgan Chase by far the worst offender.
We will raise the Choice of Evils defense under Delaware law: that we took action (peacefully sitting in the street in our rocking chairs) to try to head off climate catastrophe. (See statute below.)
Defendant Carolyn Shaw said, "Aware of the needs of my grandchildren and beckoned by the faint calls of my ancestors I will act creatively with others, taking any risk necessary to move human existence forward."
Defendant Mary Liepold added, “In preaching on Matthew 5:14, Martin Luther King Jr. asked if we want to be headlights or taillights. Along with my co-defendants, I’m choosing to be a headlight, to cut through the fog of denial. That is why, harming no one, I rocked outside the Chase building in June: to illuminate the emergency. So help me God, I could do no less.”
Who: 13 elders who took nonviolent direct action
What: Our trial
When: Friday, Nov. 12, 10 AM
Where: Justice of the Peace Court, 500 North King St., Wilmington, Delaware
Why: Because we are in a climate emergency and immediate and drastic action can’t wait
Choice of Evils (Title 11, Delaware Criminal Code, Chapter 4, #463.):
“Unless inconsistent with the ensuing sections of this Criminal Code defining justifiable use of physical force, or with some other provisions of law, conduct which would otherwise constitute an offense is justifiable when it is necessary as an emergency measure to avoid an imminent public or private injury which is about to occur by reason of a situation occasioned or developed through no fault of the defendant, and which is of such gravity that, according to ordinary standards of intelligence and morality, the desirability and urgency of avoiding such injury clearly outweigh the desirability of avoiding the injury sought to be prevented by the statute defining the offense in issue.”
We’re proud to announce the release of a short documentary detailing the Walk!
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Check out photos from the 2021 Walk for Our Grandchildren and keep up with future actions on our Facebook!
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ABOUT THE WALK
In June of 2021 a group of grandparents and elders embarked on an eight day 180 mile march from Scranton, PA to Wilmington, DE.
Driven by the question ‘What kind of ancestors will we be?’ these elders took bold action and risked arrest in the fight against climate change and for a renewable energy future!
Along the way the elders met with front line activists struggling against pipelines, incinerator plants, and environmental racism. The Walk concluded with a non-violent direct action in which 15 grandparents in rocking chairs blockaded the doors of a major Chase Bank corporate headquarters in Wilmington!
Chase Bank is the number one funder of fossil fuel extraction in the U.S. They are invested to the tune of $268 billion– $71 billion more than their closest competitor. We demand their complete divestment from fossil fuel!
Stay tuned for more actions in the fall!
Why Walk Now?
In 2013, a multi-generational group of climate activists walked from Camp David, Maryland to Washington, DC. Their goal: to tell President Obama and other policy makers that we must keep the majority of fossil fuels in the ground.
Now, in 2021, elders and youth are walking once again to demand climate action from President Biden, who has promised bold actions to address climate change. However, his current proposals, while important, are inadequate to address the climate emergency.
By walking in the summer of 2021, we want to remind the Biden Administration and others that our love for our families and their futures requires a rapid, uncompromising transition away from the unhealthy, unsafe extraction and burning of fossil fuels while embracing renewable energy, especially solar and wind power.
A $2-trillion Biden Administration infrastructure and climate action proposal is moving toward a vote in Congress, this summer. We are glad to see climate action in this legislation, but it is not enough. We support the much stronger, more realistic approach in the Green New Deal/Thrive Agenda and the developing Red, Black, and Green New Deal promoted by the Movement for Black Lives.
Who Will Walk?
Eight years after the first 2013 Walk for Our Grandchildren, the realities of climate chaos are even more obvious than they were in 2013. More and more young people, parents, and grandparents (and great grandparents too) realize the dangers future generations face. We walkers are those young people, parents, and
As part of our COVID-19 precautions, we ask that walkers receive a vaccine no later than two weeks before the event's beginning.
We welcome people of all generations, faiths, and cultures to walk the entire route, or any part of it, for a few hours or for the entire route. We will join hearts and hands in a Beloved Community of meditation, prayers, and action to protect Mother Earth and all her living creatures. As we arrive in Wilmington, we expect our numbers to swell. We
will have a special vehicle following the walk so those who tire during the day have transportation.
When Will We Walk?
June 20 - 28
Our Walk will be 8 days in late June, when the sun is highest in the northern hemisphere’s sky and provides most energy to our Mother Earth. We will start walking the morning of the 21st, the day after Fathers’ Day and the day of the Summer Solstice, bringing together our love of family with the natural celestial forces that make life on the earth possible, and which ultimately must underlie our energy systems and our solutions to the climate chaos challenge.
Where Will We Walk?
Scranton, PA to Wilmington, DE
We plan to do some combination of walking, biking, and riding from Scranton, Pennsylvania to Wilmington, Delaware. Scranton is President Biden’s birthplace, as well as one of the first anthracite coal regions, and borders on the Marcellus Shale region of large-scale hydro-fracking operations. The Scranton region is also home to landfills that are accepting toxic and radioactive drilling waste from the shale-fields, all likely to leach into the groundwater of local communities. We will end in Wilmington, which has been President Biden’s home for decades. Along the way we will meet with community groups, activists, journalists, and others committed to keeping fossil fuels in the ground and embracing renewable energy.
The land upon which we will walk and gather is part of the traditional territory of the Lenni-Lenape, called “Lenapehoking.”
The Lenape People lived in harmony with one another upon this territory for thousands of years.
Read more about The Lenape People and the history of the Lenni-Lenape Land under The Route section.
Food & Shelter
We have arranged with places of worship, campgrounds, and community groups along the route to provide overnight accommodations. We are working with local groups to plan public forums most evenings. There will be support people each day providing water, bathroom facilities, medical services, gear carriers, parking, and shuttles for day walkers, meals, support vehicles, and communications.
Seeds of Peace, which has the best mobile kitchen for progressive activists in the U.S., has committed to supplying healthy food during the walk.
What About COVID?
Safety and health are central to our concerns in planning this event. Because of the pandemic, we will remain both flexible and creative and will update our plans as needed. Though we expect participants to be fully vaccinated (and thus able to walk together), masking and distancing will be practiced wherever appropriate. Vaccines are now available to all Americans over the age of 12.
All walkers must be vaccinated, unless they are not eligible for vaccination due to age or other restrictions. Belief that vaccines are not effective or necessary is not sufficient reason for an exception to this rule.
All walkers, including the unvaccinated, can walk and interact unmasked out of doors. We do encourage physical distancing out of doors.
Indoors, all walkers must observe distancing guidelines and wear masks. This applies to vaccinated walkers as well as unvaccinated. The Walk will have a supply of masks and provide them to people who do not have them.
These guidelines may be updated and improved as needed after a discussion of the steering committee.
Planning & Organizing
Fifteen to twenty of us from around the East Coast have been meeting weekly to plan and organize the walk. We have formed a number of working groups focused on specific tasks, like fundraising, art, social media, messaging outreach, route planning,
food, and lodging. Please contact us if you are interested in walking or helping in any way. You can donate here, through our partners at Beyond Extreme Energy. Details are not final and will likely change in some ways.
For more information, contact Steven Norris: (828)-777-7816 or email@example.com.
A tentative schedule for daily plans from Scranton, PA to Wilmington, DE.
If you want to take part in the Walk for a day, part of a day or a couple of days and have questions about how to do so, call these walkers:
A Juneteenth Celebration!
Participants may begin to meet in Scranton.
Participants meet in Scranton beginning at 12 noon at Temple Hesed for an interfaith prayer service at 1:30 PM. We will have a Walk orientation and a history of fossil fuels in Scranton with art build work in evening.
Leave in AM from Temple Hesed--
FB Event Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/542575710232509
9 AM: Assemble at Dunmore Reservoir #1
-9:30 AM Walk to Keystone Sanitary Landfill entrance on Dunham St. for brief rally
-10 AM: Continue walk to downtown Scranton, including walking by Joe Biden’s former house
-12 Noon: Arrive in downtown Courthouse Square. Rally across from the Federal Building to stop polluting landfill expansion plans.
Travel to Easton/Bethlehem area using shuttle vehicles for part of the trip (70 miles), partway on Lehigh & Delaware Canal. Camp and indoor housing in area. Learn about Penn East pipeline.
Walk & drive to Bucks County (near Trenton). Camp at Tinicum Park in Erwinna, PA. 7 pm rally with local activists fighting the Penn East pipeline.
Walk and drive to Philadelphia, partway on Canal. In mid-afternoon walk down Broad Street in Philly to Market and left over to Old First United Church of Christ, 151 N. 4th St. 6:30 pm presentations from leaders of fights against Gibbstown, NJ LNG export terminal, Atlantic Sunrise pipeline and Mariner East pipeline.
FB Event Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/830145070955424
10:30 am: Rally at Independence Hall, 5th and Market, followed by action at 11:45 at Chase Bank office, 1100 Market St.. 3:30 pm action at PECO/Exelon headquarters, 2301 Market St., 20% Solar by 2025! Stay overnight at Old First UCC.
FB Event Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/243395603788608
Morning rally at 9 AM at Governor Printz Park in Essington, PA near Philly airport, across river from proposed Gibbstown LNG export terminal. Walk to Chester to site of polluting Covanta incinerator, walk to site of Marcus Hook Industrial Complex. Shuttle via vehicles to Wilmington, walk last couple of miles to downtown. Stay overnight in a local church.
1:30 pm, Wilmington Friends Meeting, 401 N. West St., gathering/ceremony with Wilmington supporters. Afterwards, orientation and training for actions the next day.
Morning action at Chase Bank, 201 N. Walnut St.
STOP FUNDING FOSSIL FUELS!
This schedule is subject to change & additional information. To learn more about these and other details, connect with us through email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
To learn more about the route check out our detailed map! The 2021 Walk will take place on stolen Lenape Land.
The land upon which we will Walk and gather is part of the traditional territory of the Lenni-Lenape, called “Lenapehoking.” The Lenape People lived in harmony with one another upon this territory for thousands of years. During the colonial era and early federal period, many were removed west and north, but some also remain among the continuing historical tribal communities of the region: The Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation; the Ramapough Lenape Nation; and the Powhatan Renape Nation, The Nanticoke of Millsboro Delaware, and the Lenape of Cheswold Delaware.
We acknowledge the Lenni-Lenape as the original people of this land and their continuing relationship with their territory. In our acknowledgment of the continued presence of Lenape people in their homeland, we affirm the aspiration of the great Lenape Chief Tamanend, that there be harmony between the indigenous people of this land and the descendants of the immigrants to this land, “as long as the rivers and creeks flow, and the sun, moon, and stars shine.”
Sometimes translated as “Original People,” the Lenape were known as mediators and called “The Grandfathers'' by the entire Agonquian Family Tree of languages. Encompassing the Delaware River Basin, Lenapehokink includes present-day New Jersey, most of Delaware, the Eastern parts of New York and Pennsylvania, and was home to 20,000 Lenape in three clans: the Wolf Clan in the mountains speaking Musnee dialect, Turtle Clan along the Rivers speaking Unami, and Turkey Clan by the Big Waters speaking Unilatchigo.
With gratitude to the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation; and to Chief Dennis Coker, of the Lenape of Cheswold Delaware
Why We Take Direct Action - George Lakey
Why is Civil Disobedience Part of the Walk for Our Grandchildren?
A story helps explain our answer. It’s a 1962 conversation that reportedly happened between President John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., signaling what was needed next in the developing civil rights movement: the Birmingham campaign in 1963.
Dr. King met with President Kennedy and asked for leadership in desegregating public accommodations. Kennedy said of course he would like to take leadership but it would destroy his chance for a second term. King expected this answer, and had a back-up request: go on TV and use the “bully pulpit” to describe racism as a moral issue.” Kennedy’s reply was the same: political reality prevented his taking that step.
So King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference joined its affiliate in Birmingham, Alabama that had already been doing demonstrations. Together, with support of others, they created such a mighty nonviolent campaign that they virtually stopped Birmingham: they disrupted what was at that time a major industrial city.
President Kennedy got on the phone with Roger Blough, head of U.S. Steel, and others in the economic elite and explained that he had to “give them something” to end the civil rights campaign. After gaining some elite acquiescence Kennedy supported what became the 1963 civil rights act, which made an enormous difference in the South.
MLK and his forces couldn’t have carried out the Birmingham campaign of ’63 if it hadn’t been for the prior sit-ins of 1960 onward, the Freedom Rides breaking local segregation laws, and so on. People needed to work themselves up to a higher level of sacrifice before they could be powerful enough to offset the power of the status quo on a national scale.
The climate crisis-
With the climate crisis we know that President Biden is caught between a rock and a hard place. There is reality proved by science, and against that is the enormous profitability of fossil fuels, symbolized by JP Morgan Chase, the largest single funder of fossil fuels in the U.S. Chase is powerful but can’t actually set aside the laws of physics!
The power of Chase and others pursuing mega-profits needs to give way if our grandchildren are going to have a chance. But that power, like the power of the segregationists, needs to be overcome by another, larger power.
The two forms of power that go beyond those offered by the democratic state (elections, lawsuits, etc.) are: violence and nonviolent direct action. People who are on the side of science need to empower themselves with one of those two sources of power to overcome the resisting power attached to the ecocidal status quo. Americans can be out there on Sundays on the shooting range doing target practice, if you prefer, or we can learn to use nonviolent direct action.
The Grandparents prefer nonviolent direct action. The proposed action at Chase in Wilmington will not be so norm-busting (and dangerous) as the brave young Black people sitting in throughout the South. Still, this action is a bold one for both grandparents and youth. Together we are wading into the water of nonviolent direct action, to test what is possible in our own time. We want to show that we can empower ourselves, on behalf of the grandchildren. We want to give this to them.
Marcellus Outreach Butler
March on Harrisburg
Mothers Out Front, New River Valley, VA
Mothers Out Front, Roanoke, VA
Philadelphia Interfaith Power and Light
PA Granny Peace Brigade
PA Alliance for Clean Water and Air
PA Poor People’s Campaign
PA Physicians for Social Responsibility
Payday Men’s Network
Pipeline Fighters Hub
Preserve Bent Mountain VA
Preserve Giles County VA
Preserve Montgomery County VA
Preserve Craig Inc. (VA)
Preserve Monroe, WV
Protect Our Commonwealth (VA)
Put People First
Quittapahilla Watershed Association
Seeds of Peace
The Shalom Center
Stop Trump Pipelines
Summers County (WV) Residents Against the Pipeline
Sunrise Movement PA
Temple Hesed, Scranton, PA
Virginia Pipeline Resisters
Virginia Tech for Climate Justice
Wilmington Sierra Club
7 Directions of Service
Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance
Berks Gas Truth
Better Path Coalition
Beyond Extreme Energy
Clean Air Council
Chester Residents Concerned for Quality of Life (CRQL)
7 Directions of Service
Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance
Berks Gas Truth
Better Path Coalition
Beyond Extreme Energy
Clean Air Council
Chester Residents Concerned for Quality of Life (CRQL)
Christians for the Mountains
COEJL, Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life
Delaware Riverkeeper Network
Earth Quaker Action Team
Elders Action Network
Energy Justice Network
Friends of Buckingham, VA
Global Women’s Strike
Greenbrier River Watershed Association
Home Owners Against Land Taking, NJ
Indian Creek (WV) Watershed Association
Interfaith Moral Action on Climate
Lepoco Peace Center
Lancaster Against Pipelines
Lebanon Pipeline Awareness