April 19, 2011

Cornell Students Nearly Arrested at Power Shift

Print More

Two Cornell students and one Ithaca College student were nearly arrested Monday after they marched into the Department of the Interior during the youth environmental conference Power Shift, a three-day conference that aims to motivate environmental activism. Ben Fish ’14, August William-Eynon ’14 and Ithaca College student sophomore Ren Ostry  were initially marching in Power Shift’s lobbying rally on Monday when Congress was in session.  Fish said that the march began at the White House and passed the B.P. headquarters, the Chamber of Commerce and Genon Energy Company; a subgroup then advanced into the Department of the Interior.Fish explained that a group entered the lobby and stayed until the police issued several warnings.“We got there with a group of friends. We packed the inside of it until the police threatened arrest. At that point, pretty much all but about 70 people left. Me and August stayed.”Fish said he and his friend William-Eynon remained until the police threatened to elevate the charge to felony.  The police went on to arrest 20 people as Fish and William-Eynon watched from outside. When asked why he decided to be part of the march on the office, Fish replied, “Honestly, I think more than anything you never have a voice against the big dudes and it’s just kind of a way to make a statement,” Fish said.Power Shift’s lobbying group set out with four main priorities: defend the clean air act; shift dirty energy subsidies towards investments in clean energy, such as wind and solar power; have the government publicly denounce the undue influence of dirty energy money in politics; and support transition to 100 percent clean energy.The conference drew more than 10,000 people from throughout the country.  On Saturday and Sunday, a number of different collaborative sessions were held to share ideas and on-campus initiatives.Cornell University and surrounding schools, including Ithaca College, New Roots Charter School and high schools across Tompkins County came out in large numbers at the conference sending the largest delegation from New York state.  Of the 160 students from the Ithaca area, 106 were from Cornell.  Power Shift began on Friday evening with a speech from Al Gore. Gore –– whose speech drew several loud cheers from the audience –– commented on how the climate is changing across the country and throughout the world.He asked, “Are we supposed to stick our heads in the sand and pretend this isn’t real?”  Additional speakers came Saturday night, including Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org; Tim Dechristopher, convicted for disrupting an illegitimate BLM oil and gas auction; Josh Fox, director of Gasland; and Lisa P. Jackson, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator.  Throughout Saturday and Sunday, a number of collaborative workshops  met to exchange ideas for their own campuses.

Bill McKibben started his speech by saying, “Listen up.  Very few people can ever say they are in the single most important place they can possibly be doing the single most important thing they could possibly be doing.  That’s you here now.”  He emphasized that students are the ones that have to make the change.  He offered the encouragement, though, that we have the science behind us. McKibben will be speaking at Cornell on Thursday at 4:30 at Call Auditorium in Kennedy Hall.

Original Author: Nicki Button