Red Brigade activist group waits outside mayor’s office to declare climate emergency

Richmond Extinction Rebellion protested on the City Hall steps Monday afternoon. Photo by Katharine DeRosa

Katharine DeRosa, Contributing Writer

With bodies cloaked in red and faces smeared with charcoal, members from the Richmond Extinction Rebellion protested at City Hall on Monday to deliver a statement of climate emergency to Mayor Levar Stoney. 

The protest began on the observation deck and continued to the mayor’s office, where the group was met with resistance, and finished with a march around the first floor and a “die-in,” which is meant to resemble death, on the City Hall steps.

The Richmond sector of Extinction Rebellion protested in conjunction with many Extinction Rebellion groups around the world such as those in London, Wellington, New Zealand, Berlin and Dublin. Protesters around the world dressed in red to symbolize the “mourning of the planet.”

At the beginning of the protest, the group fell silent and began processing in a single-file line. A woman at the front of the line, Mara Robbins, led the slow pace barefooted with her palms facing the sky.

Protestors not dressed in red cloaks participated in a “die-in” meant to resemble death. Photo by Katharine DeRosa.

Some of the protesters who were not dressed in red carried banners and flyers that read “Walk humbly now” and “Do justly now.”

The group took up almost all of the hallway area outside the mayor’s office. The sole speaker for the group, Christiane Reiderer, approached the security officer on duty and asked to speak with the mayor, who refused to see the group without an appointment. 

“We’ll just wait,” Reiderer said, “This is about a climate and ecological emergency that we’re facing.”

Reiderer then told the officer they would speak to anyone from his office, saying that the information they had prepared was “very important.”

While Extinction Rebellion was silently waiting, many people had to walk through the crowd to move throughout the floor. People’s eyes widened as they turned the corner and a few asked the security officer what was going on.

Eventually, the mayor and Extinction Rebellion came to a compromise, as Stoney agreed to allow one member inside his office to present the declaration to him. Mara Robbins was silently selected to go inside Stoney’s office.

After the presentation of the letter, the security officer led Extinction Rebellion down to the first floor, where the protest continued and eventually exited out onto Broad Street.

Richmond Extinction Rebellion left this symbol on the City Hall steps at the conclusion of their protest. Photo by Katharine DeRosa

Those not dressed in red participated in a “die-in,” where they laid on the steps of City Hall in silence for 11 minutes — one minute for every year there is left to prevent climate change, according to the IPCC, or Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“Die-ins” have become a popular form of protest in recent years as they are meant to symbolize death and were recently used by those in attendance at the worldwide climate strike in Richmond on Sept. 20.

After the 11 minutes were finished, Robbins drew the Extinction Rebellion’s symbol on the steps of City Hall with charcoal before departing.

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