Why we must support #BlackLivesMatter as environmental journalists

The last few days have been devastating for many of us at Climate Tracker. As a network and a team, we have family and friends who are being brutalised as we speak, and we are in a collective disbelief at the utter disregard for human life, civil rights and journalistic protections that are literally being live-streamed. 

I’m sure in many ways you may feel the same way. 

But the truth is that none of us can truly know this may be impacting you right now. 

What we can say as a group is that we are amazed at the incredible bravery of all those who are risking their lives, fighting for change in a country that has enabled, emboldened and justified racist brutality throughout its history. An Institutionalised, capitalised racism that has been repeated and repeated and repeated, even this week. 

And we cannot accept such an egregious abandonment of democratic respect and human dignity from so many of those in power across the country.

Racism at its very essence is a crime against humanity. Police sanctioned racism is a weaponisation of that crime.

And as environmentalists, who for the entirety of our global movement, have relied on the ability to protest safely, we cannot sit by and stay silent in the face of clear police brutality and an absolute disrespect of those risking their lives for a better America.

The violent suppression of protest of any kind hurts us all.

Only one month ago, we celebrated Earth day, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the day when millions of Americans protested for cleaner air or water. This week, anti-racist protests have continued to push for a better America. 

Without the ability to protest, the environmental movement would simply not be what it is today. And without the ability to collectively organise, we would also not be what we are today. 

The US government’s move to criminalise the global movement of grassroots, neighbourhood and community associations united solely by their rejection of fascism may seem like nothing but one of Trump’s distractions, but is a threat to the rights of assembly in democracies around the world. We at Climate Tracker find no harm in aligning ourselves with those opposed to fascism.

For this and so many other reasons, we absolutely condemn the blatant police violence and weaponised racism on display across the US. It is a threat to us all, and all our common goals of social progress. 

As Arundhati Roy says in her 2004 essay, People vs Empire; “if governments do not do all they can to honour nonviolent resistance, then by default they privilege those who turn to violence. No government’s condemnation of terrorism is credible if it cannot show itself to be open to change by nonviolent dissent.”