Climate activists voice support for George Floyd protesters and confront green movement's issues with race


This article originally appeared in The Independent, on June 2, 2020

by Louise Boyle, June 2, 2020

Environmental activists are voicing support for protesters who have taken to the streets in outrage over the police killing of George Floyd, while acknowledging the green movement's own need to tackle ongoing racial inequality.

A number of leading green groups have issued statements recognising that systemic racism is deeply intertwined with the climate crisis, and pointing to disparities between the current response to demonstrators and how other movements have been treated.

“It’s not lost on me that last year’s Climate Strikes received overwhelmingly positive coverage, while this weekend we’ve seen more concern over how people protest than the movement’s goals,” said May Boeve, executive director of climate non-profit, 350.org, which has asked supporters to donate to bail-out funds for those arrested at demonstrations.

Mr Floyd, 46, died on 25 May after a police officer, Derek Chauvin, pinned a knee to his neck for almost nine minutes. Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, and while the three other officers involved have been fired, they are yet to face charges.

For seven days, thousands of people have taken part in largely peaceful protests across at least 140 US cities. Some demonstrations have been marred by pockets of violence and looting. In places, peaceful protesters were seen rushing to form human chains in front of stores to stop the destruction.

President Donald Trump upped the ante by threatening to deploy the military to “dominate the streets” of America and federal forces followed his lead, aggressively clearing a Washington DC park of protesters with tear gas so he could walk to a church and pose with a Bible on Monday evening.