14 climate activists arrested for trespassing at Statehouse

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island capital and state police arrested 14 climate activists at the Statehouse for trespassing Friday night.

Several hundred citizens gathered on the Statehouse steps in Providence asking Gov. Gina Raimondo to decline contributions from fossil fuel companies or to sign on to the Green New Deal.

The Capital and State Police closed the building, which normally closes at 4 p.m., at 7 p.m., and arrested those inside who refused to leave on charges of trespassing, the Providence Journal reported.

“Right now, she really is controlled by fossil fuel money and she’s taken over half a million dollars from big fossil fuel billionaires and executives, and they pretty much control all her decisions, and her decisions are influenced by it,” Providence high school student Anjali Subramanian told WPRO radio. Subramanian led the rally.

“While I admire them for their activism and their initiative, you know, it’s easy for them to wave a piece of paper and say, ‘sign this.’ I actually have to govern,” Raimondo told the station.

“The people of Rhode Island have to have heated homes this winter. People have to get to work. If you put a serious proposal before me that is practical, that we can sign, that fights climate change, I will sign it,” she said.

A similar protest took place in Boston on Friday as hundreds of young people entered the Massachusetts Statehouse criticizing lawmakers for not moving fast enough to cut the state's greenhouse gas emissions.

The students support the a bill that would require the state to get all its energy from renewable sources by 2045. The “100 percent renewables” bill resembles legislation passed in six other states including New York and California, The Boston Globe reported. A similar Massachusetts bill made no movement last session and remains in committee.

Boston youth planned the demonstration to coincide with UN talks on climate change in Madrid this week where 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg joined a large march.