Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me ’round, turn me ’round, turn me ’round,
Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me ’round,
I’m gonna keep on a walkin’,
keep on a-talkin’,
Marching up to freedom land.— Freedom Song, Traditional
Tonight, as we look up in awe while fireworks adorn the sky, let us remember that today isn’t just a day of commemoration. It’s a day in which we’re reminded that the fight for independence and freedom is ongoing and that every one of us has a role to play in making this a more perfect union.
Last week, I nearly got arrested in Washington, D.C. trying to do just that.
Though we’re in the middle of our 100 Counties 100 Days Tour, I knew that the right thing to do was follow a group of young, southern Sunrise Movement activists to D.C. last week for peaceful protests. This moment, just like so many before it, calls for direct action.
Our mission was to send a clear message to President Biden before it’s too late: #NoClimateNoDeal. We marched to the White House to demand that the American Jobs Plan include a bold jobs and climate package that includes a fully-funded Civilian Climate Corps (CCC).
The CCC is a visionary policy that would create a government jobs program aimed at combating the climate crisis. It would give good, green jobs to the millions of Americans who are out of work or underemployed. And it would do a LOT of good in North Carolina, where the climate crisis takes a daily toll on the lives and livelihoods of our working families.
Over 500 people, mostly youth activists, participated in the direct action outside the White House. This includes a whole bus full of activists from Sunrise Movement North Carolina! I am so grateful for their leadership. I am so grateful to protestors and activists across the country who’re fighting for our freedom. Our freedom to have a good-paying union job, clean air and clean water, housing and food, and a government that works for the folks who make government work.
The direct action on Monday escalated as planned when activists began blockading all 10 entrances to the White House. Everyone was chanting, waving signs, and holding banners. “Which Side Are You On?” A banner that I saw on Monday and a question that’s had to be asked for too many generations.
You could really feel the energy of people making their voices heard for the air we breathe, for the water we drink, and for the place we call home!
But shortly after we blockaded the entrances, Secret Service agents started showing up. They began arresting people at the White House entrances!
For several moments, it was pure chaos. As Secret Service members began approaching the entrance I was helping to blockade with other activists, I imagined that I would soon be in handcuffs, like so many other activists who marched to the White House to peacefully protest…
…but in the end, Secret Service moved on from my entrance as our crowd of activists dispersed. Of course, that didn’t stop them from arresting dozens of protesters in total that day.
Our lives and livelihoods cannot be sold out for the sake of a compromise that leaves our planet on fire and our economy rigged.
If elected to the U.S. Senate, I will keep raising my voice unapologetically to combat the climate crisis every way we can. After all, I am the ONLY candidate in my primary who supports a Green New Deal.
Arrest or no arrest, I will never stop fighting for climate bold climate reform and for climate justice. I will never stop fighting for true freedom and to make this country, in the words of Sister Nina Turner, as good as it’s promise.
Happy 4th y’all, let’s keep marchin’.
Erica Smith, Progressive Democrat for North Carolina’s US Senate Seat
Thanks for always doing what you can to help make this a better world,
Howie, for the entire Blue America team