On Saturday, climate change protesters descended upon the entrance of the Washington Hilton Hotel for the Capitol’s annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner, forcing attendees to slip through demonstrations to enter the event.
Climate Defiance, a youth-led nonviolent group seeking to end the use of fossil fuels, organized the demonstration with the intent to create a blockade of the dinner. They were joined for a moment by Tennessee state Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, who lent their voices to the cause.
The pair, both Democrats, were expelled from the state legislature last month after they led a gun reform protest from the House floor. Officials reinstated the lawmakers less than a week later.
“I wanted to come out here and stand with you all,” Jones said. “We are going to continue to push the fight and stay with the people because we know our generation is dealing with the long term implications of these decisions.”
Pearson echoed his colleague’s remarks.
“We must remain steadfast, unmovable and unchangeable in our belief that we can have a clean planet,” he said. “Our country’s best days are not behind us but in front of us and I’m so glad to be in the movement for justice alongside you.”
Climate Defiance, which is staunchly opposed to President Joe Biden’s current oil and gas projects, originally sought to shut down the event altogether. Organizers said Biden’s actions contradict his campaign promises.
The president has pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2030, in addition to undertaking multiple efforts to combat climate change, including rejoining the Paris Agreeement and creating a National Climate Task Force.
However, in March Biden approved one of the largest oil projects to ever take place on public land. The Willow project in Northern Alaska is estimated to produce roughly 614 million barrels of oil in the next 30 years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
Demonstrators were joined by other notable environmental activist groups, including Extinction Rebellion, Scientist Rebellion and Guardian Rebellion. Hundreds of people participated in the protests.
At one point, protestors succeeded in blocking a government SUV from pulling into the hotel’s parking lot.
The group interrupted other events associated with the dinner, including a CNN afterparty — where an activist was allegedly body slammed while calling out the network’s climate change coverage — and a garden brunch, which ended with chants of “do your reporting, our planet is burning” reverberating throughout the grounds.
Earlier last week, White House Climate Advisor John Podesta shut down his keynote speech after approximately seven Climate Defiance activists swarmed the room demanding action on climate change.
“This was just the warm up,” the group said of the disruption on Twitter.