A group of climate activists walked onto a busy highway in Washington, D.C., forcing rush hour traffic to come to a halt and preventing a man from visiting his wife while she gave birth.
The activists, who said they were blocking traffic in an effort to convince President Joe Biden to declare a “climate emergency,” blocked traffic on I-395 Wednesday morning, according to video captured by journalist Ford Fischer. The activists have successfully blocked the highway on two other occasions over the past two weeks, Fischer tweeted.
“We are asking President Biden to declare a climate emergency and to stop all extraction on federal and indigenous land,” Jon, one of the protesters, told Fischer while sitting cross-legged on the highway.
“We have a brief and rapidly closing window to address the climate crisis,” he added. “The government isn’t listening.”
The activist added that the Biden administration is acting counter to its climate rhetoric by recently encouraging new oil drilling. The White House, though, has repeated a debunked argument that energy producers can drill for fossil fuels on 9,000 unused leases, rather than hold new lease sales.
Fischer’s video of the protest Wednesday showed the moment when Jon and his fellow green activists walked onto the highway as cars sped by. The group was met by a chorus of honking horns as drivers realized what was happening.
One of the drivers got out of his car and, after saying he agreed with the activists’ message, said they were preventing him from getting to his wife who was in labor.
“I gotta get to my wife, she’s pregnant. What the fuck?” the man told the protesters, according to the video. “I need to get to her to have my child.”
The man then told the activists to leave the highway and go speak with lawmakers directly. Another activist then said they were blocking traffic on behalf of the man’s unborn child.
“That’s why we are doing this because we care about everybody,” the unnamed protester said. “It’s really a bad situation. We only have a few years.”
Police officers with the Metropolitan Police Department were soon able to wrangle the activists and remove them from the busy highway, according to additional video of the scene. Three officers had to carry one woman off the road.
“This is how women got the vote, this is how civil rights was passed,” one of the protesters told Fischer as his fellow activists were being arrested and put into a police cruiser.