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Fire Drill Friday
Fire Drill Friday was created by Jane Fonda to address the climate crisis. Her inspiration came after Greta Thunberg told the world “We have to act like our house is on fire, because it is.” Fonda decided to upend her life for a few months by moving to D.C. and creating a series of protests and teach-ins as the start of a movement to galvanize politicians, corporations, and the public to address climate change.
Fonda used her celebrity power to draw together scientists, activists, and other celebrities to build this movement. Each week was focused on a different aspect of the climate crisis (the experts and the teach-ins can be found on the Facebook page).
Getting arrested was a planned part of the weekly protests, as a symbolic act of civil disobedience to draw more attention. Permits to allow First Amendment action on the lawn were secured for each week’s speeches and civil disobedience action followed each rally (falling under DC Code 22-1307 for crowding, obstructing or incommoding public space).
Here’s what we saw each week.
Week 1 – October 11
Week 1 started fairly small, with Fonda and a group of activists speaking about the crisis and getting arrested on the Capitol steps.
Week 2 – October 18
Focus: Green New Deal
In week 2, the crowd had grown significantly. Jane Fonda’s co-star from Grace and Frankie, Sam Waterston, joined her in getting arrested on First Street.
Week 3 – October 25
Ted Danson joined Jane Fonda. The arrests were on First Street.
Week 4 – November 1
After speeches on the Capitol grounds, the protest moved to the Hart Senate Office Building where those wanting to get arrested sat around a large banner.
Week 5 – November 8
Focus: War and climate change
In week 5, Ben and Jerry joined Jane Fonda, with a march down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House (and Ben and Jerry supplied ice cream to the crowd at the end of the march). No one was arrested.
Week 6 – November 15
Focus: Environmental justice
In week 6, Jane was joined by her TV daughters from Grace and Frankie, June Diane Raphael and Brooklyn Decker. After the speeches, the protestors marched to Russell Senate Office Building. Fonda chose to not get arrested this week, because she had reached the maximum number of arrests before she faced being held in jail for a significant period of time.
Week 7 – November 22
On week 7, there was a large crowd despite the rain. Fonda was joined by Diane Lane, Piper Perabo, and Manny Jacinto.
Week 8 – November 29
Focus: Food and agriculture
On week 8, arrests took place on the steps of the Capitol.
The youth activists from Fridays for Future joined the protest, and held a funeral for the planet.
Week 9 – December 6
Focus: Migration, human rights, and climate refugees
This protest began in Franklin Square and marched to nearby financial institutions which are lenders to the fossil fuel industry. Taylor Schilling and Annie Leibovitz came, and Fridays for Future joined in the protest.
Week 10 – December 13
Focus: Jobs and communities
Jane Fonda is joined by Sally Fields, with heavy rain and arrests on the Capitol steps.
Week 11 – December 20
This week’s protest was in celebration of Jane Fonda’s 82nd birthday. She exceeded her goal of having at least 82 people get arrested with her (previous charges had been resolved, so that she could get arrested again without facing jail time).
Week 12 – December 27
Lily Tomlin joined Jane Fonda this week. Arrests were on the Capitol steps.
Sam Waterston came again to the protests and was arrested. Iain Armitage, star of Young Sheldon and Fonda’s grandson in Our Souls at Night, came for his second time at the protests.
Week 14 – January 10
The last protest and the largest. Martin Sheen, June Diane Raphael, Amber Valletta, and Joaquin Phoenix joined Jane Fonda. Arrests were on the Capitol steps.
Before each protest, the speakers and organizers and those intending to get arrested met for a planning session at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation on East Capitol Street.
Each week, volunteers set up a stage on the Capitol grounds.
The police set up for the pending arrests. While in previous weeks, those arrested were taken to an off-site location to be processed and pay their fines or prepare for jail time, the final week there were a larger number of people being arrested. The Capitol Police set up tables to issue tickets instead of completing the process that day. If the $50 ticketed fine was not paid within two weeks of issue, the individuals would have bench warrants for their re-arrest and risk time in jail and a record.
After the meeting in the church, the group marched over to the stage and the presentations began.
Jane Fonda cheered for the activists getting arrested, and greeted and hugged them as they got released.
The series of protests in D.C. is now over, but Fonda is starting them in Los Angeles and her team is helping other cities start a grass-roots movement of Fire Drill Fridays, so this is not the end.