On Monday, youth activists manned Mitch McConnell's office with banners asking him to look them in the eyes and explain why he does not endorse a Green New Deal. They were eventually expelled and 42 were arrested by the Capitol Police for unlawful demonstrations, said the law enforcement agency Earther.
The move marks the recent escalation in the battle for the Green New Deal when it came to a vote in the Republic-controlled Senate. On Friday, video footage featuring a confrontation between youth activists campaigning for the Green New Deal and Senator Dianne Feinstein beaten, viralized, which fueled a heated news cycle that lasted all weekend. It was part of a comprehensive court press on senators on both sides of the aisle.
"We only demand a damned chance for a worthwhile future", Varshini Prakash, co-founder of Youth and Millennium The activist organization Sunrise Movement, which led the protests, said from McConnell's office just before the arrests began.
The activists of the Sunrise Movement visited McConnell's Kentucky office while the Senate paused, camping and asking for a meeting to no avail. The protest on Monday was an escalation as activists with the Sunrise Movement moved to his Washington office, D.C.
The demonstrators also included the Kentuckians, who testified about the effects of climate change support a Green New Deal, a plan to rapidly decarbonise the US economy, which Senator Ed Markey and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez passed as a resolution earlier this month.
The protests are part of an escalating campaign as the Senate approaches a vote on the Green New Deal, which could happen this week. Earlier this month, McConnell said he would vote on Markey's Senate legislation to "give everyone the opportunity to talk about how they feel." Without any hearings in the committee and with the entire republican caucus, who essentially sided with it, many Democrats' vote was seen as an attempt to kill progressive legislation.
The defeat of the resolution would not mean the end of the Green New Deal or activism in the context of climate change. If anything, this could increase the pressure on politicians to act. Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren are among the leaders of the president, supporting a Green New Deal that would give him new life if one of them is elected. And the Sunrise movement, youth strikers, and other young people who are committed to change are doing so under the auspices of science setting a timeline for decarbonization or disaster.
McConnell's efforts to derail the Green New Deal do not change that.