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Greenpeace USA activists scaled a construction crane to unfurl a giant banner reading “Resist” several blocks from the White House Wednesday morning.
Branding acts of protest and dissent as part of a larger “resistance” has become increasingly common in the months since Donald Trump was elected president. The banner is yellow with red rays of stylized sunlight beaming out from the dark horizon.
The 70-by-35-foot banner, 300 feet in the air, appears to dangle above the White House when viewed from the Ellipse of the South Lawn.
Activist Pearl Robinson, of Oakland, Calif., was still sitting on the crane boom above the banner, looking out over the city, when she spoke to Yahoo News by phone about her grievances against the Trump administration.
“I’d like people to focus on why we’re doing this, not the how or [whether] this is the right form [of protest], but really think about what’s happening in this country at this moment and wanting to know if people are going to stand and let our rights, our environment and our mental wellness be in jeopardy,” she said.
Robinson said she’s concerned with the effects Trump’s policies will have on the global climate as well as what she characterized as his inauguration’s “normalization of white supremacy.”
“The real reason we’re here is that we’re resisting what Trump wants to sell America. Already we’ve seen alarming things happen within the few days of his administration,” she said. “Starting with the lies told by his press secretary to executive orders that are taking the rights away from millions of people in this country.”
Robinson said that she felt completely safe because she and the others involved in the protest are experienced climbers.
Environmentalists are outraged over President Trump’s actions on Tuesday to advance the controversial Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. They are also troubled by reports that on Monday the White House ordered the Office of Administration and Resources Management at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stop awarding contracts and grants, pending a review.
Greenpeace spokesperson Cassady Craighill told Yahoo News what her organization was trying to convey with the sun imagery on the banner.
“The sun has really risen on a new country this week, but it is not Donald Trump. It belongs to the millions of people who are dedicated to building a better country every day, despite what Trump is trying to sell us and what he’s already done with less than a week in office,” Craighill said. “We have a man in the White House determined to move America backwards, but there are people who are going to resist every day to move us forwards.”
Karen Topakian, chairman of the board for Greenpeace Inc., said in a statement that people in the U.S. are ready to “resist and rise up” in ways we haven’t seen before.
The Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, D.C., confirmed that “a small group of protesters” was demonstrating near 15th & L streets N.W., describing it as “dangerous and unlawful” behavior that was blocking streets and tying up “multiple government resources.”
Greenpeace activists also fear the impact Trump’s cabinet nominations might have on the environment, particularly ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson for secretary of state and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt for EPA administrator.
Earlier this month, on the eve of Tillerson’s confirmation hearing, activists from Greenpeace and several other environmental organizations projected “Reject Rex” and similar messages on the side of the State Department’s headquarters.
On Monday, a Greenpeace activist literally brought Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a human spine model to protest his vote to confirm Tillerson as secretary of state despite having serious reservations. Rubio had asked pointed and critical questions about the longtime oilman’s ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin during his confirmation hearing.
The Greenpeace protesters join hundreds of thousands of people who have demonstrated against Trump nationwide, most notably during the Women’s March on Jan. 21.
Trump, who lost the popular vote and has the lowest approval rating of any incoming president since Gallup started polling this metric, seems sensitive to any criticism or hint of unpopularity. The White House did not issue a statement in response to the banner.
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