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Protesters Demand Richmond Officials Declare 'Climate Emergency'

Protesters staged an 11-minute 'die-in' on the steps of City Hall on Monday.
Protesters staged an 11-minute 'die-in' on the steps of City Hall on Monday.  (Patrick Larsen/VPM)
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Organizer Barry O’Keefe waits outside Mayor Levar Stoney’s office on Monday, holding a climate emergency declaration.
Organizer Barry O’Keefe waits outside Mayor Levar Stoney’s office on Monday, holding a climate emergency declaration.  (Patrick Larsen/VPM)  
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VPM Intern Patrick Larsen reported this story.

Protesters from Extinction Rebellion demonstrated outside of Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney’s office Monday afternoon to demand that the city declare a climate emergency.

The demonstrators, many dressed all in red and standing silently, handed their written demand to one of the mayor’s assistants.

Protester Mara Robbins says the declaration wouldn’t represent any immediate changes in policy. Instead, it would force the city to acknowledge the scope of the problem.

“What we’re trying to indicate is that it’s necessary that government at all levels tell the truth about the global climate emergency and act accordingly,” she said.

In 2017, Stoney announced a goal to cut Richmond’s carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. The declaration delivered by protesters cited a 2015 UN report that says emissions need to be net-zero by 2035 in order to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

The Mayor’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Protests by Extinction Rebellion have led to national emergency declarations in the United Kingdom and Canada, among other countries.  Some American cities like New York have followed suit.

The all-red outfits were first used by the Red Rebel Brigade, a group of elderly women that demonstrate with Extinction Rebellion in London. They say that the red symbolizes shared grief at the destruction of the planet’s climate.

The protest concluded with an 11-minute “die-in” on the steps of City Hall, representative of the timeframe that protesters say we have to make meaningful change.

The mayor and city hall would both have to approve the declaration for it to become official.