Demonstrators call on President Biden to keep his campaign promise to end fossil fuel leasing on federal lands.

by Deja Curtis, Sierra Club

Media A-listers and some of the nation’s most powerful elected officials who were headed to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on Saturday evening in Washington, DC, were met by 100 climate protesters determined to interrupt the event. Attendees in black tie and formal gowns had to dodge a line of demonstrators hoping to seal off all three entrances to the Washington Hilton and to meet President Biden on his arrival to demand an end to fossil fuel leasing on public lands. Climate Defiance, the organization leading the blockade, was joined by fellow climate-action advocates from Third Act, Sunshine Movement, Scientist Rebellion, and other groups that traveled from as far as Chicago.

“[This] action is specifically focused on demanding that Biden end fossil fuel leasing on federal lands, because that’s something he promised to do and has failed to deliver on,” said Rylee Haught, Climate Defiance’s Appalachian recruitment lead. “He explicitly said he would ‘end new drilling on federal lands, period, period, period’ when he was running.”

Climate protestors hold signs while attendees in evening wear push through the crowd

The activists, joined by brass band Too Much Talent, marched up Connecticut Avenue from Dupont Circle carrying signs that read “Biden: End Fossil Fuels” and “Climate Action Now!” Passersby stopped to share their support of the marchers’ climate change message with shouts of solidarity and celebratory dancing.

Once the marchers arrived at the Washington Hilton, a fraction of elder activists from Third Act splintered off and headed to the back entrance of the hotel to set up a line of colorful rocking chairs and wait for Biden’s anticipated arrival. The majority of activists formed a blockade in front of the driveway to the hotel’s main entrance. Shortly afterward, an unmarked police car with flashing dash lights pulled up to the protesters and briefly stepped on the gas in an attempt to break through. The activists held the line, leaving the black Suburban to retreat and park a short distance north of the action.

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