The day’s scorecard:
- Largest anti-coal action yet in the United States: Thousands and thousands of people flooding the streets around the Capitol Hill power plant.
- Largest demonstration in many years where everyone was wearing dress clothes: The point was to stress that there’s nothing radical about shutting down coal-fired power. In fact, there’s everything radical about continuing to pour carbon into the air just to see what happens.
- Smallest counter-protest in world’s history: By my count, the Competitive Enterprise Institute managed to muster four demonstrators for its “celebration of coal” rally, which is about the right size. (But they were kind of sweet; they had signs that said: “Al Gore, Not Evil, Just Wrong.”)
- Number of arrests: None, zip, zilch, nada. The police said so many demonstrators showed up that they had no hope of jailing them all. So we merrily violated the law all afternoon, blocking roads and incommoding sidewalks and other desperate stuff, all without a permit or a say so. We shut down the power plant for the day. And we’d pre-won our main victory anyhow, when Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid preemptively cried uncle last week and announced they were’nt going to burn coal in their plant any more.
- Quantity of broad smiles afterwards: Almost unlimited. And in the air, there was the strong sense that we can do this. Really. What fun.
Bill McKibben, a Grist board member, is co-founder of 350.org, and author most recently of Deep Economy.