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.

Keya Chatterjee, Executive Director US Climate Action Network speaking at the first Fire Drill ©Karen Ramsey
Jane Fonda leads the speakers and protestors towards the US Capitol steps. ©Karen Ramsey
©Victoria Pickering
©Victoria Pickering
©Karen Ramsey

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.

©Karen Ramsey
Sam Waterston @Karen Ramsey
Jane Fonda and Katherine LaNasa, actor/dancer/choreographer ©Karen Ramsey

Week 3 – October 25

Focus: Oceans

Ted Danson joined Jane Fonda. The arrests were on First Street.

Jerome Foster II, youth climate activist and Founder/Executive Director of OneMillionOfUs, a movement to mobilize youth to vote in 2020, spoke at the first fire drill and then attended subsequent protests to march alongside Fonda and mobilize the crowd. ©Karen Ramsey
The crowd moving along the Capitol grounds shouting “Our house is on fire; Put the fire out”. ©Karen Ramsey
Jane Fonda and Ted Danson. ©Victoria Pickering
©Victoria Pickering
Corry Westbrook, DC resident and environmentalist, and Jane Fonda waiting to be loaded into police vans. ©Karen Ramsey

Week 4 – November 1

Focus: Women

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.

@Victoria Pickering
Sitting down in Hart, waiting to get arrested. @Victoria Pickering
View through a policeman’s legs. @Karen Ramsey
Jane Fonda getting arrested. @Victoria Pickering
Jane Fonda marched out after her arrest. @Victoria Pickering
@Karen Ramsey
Coming out of Hart to go into the police bus after arrest. @Victoria Pickering

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.

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, along with members of the Piscataway tribe. Each week there was recognition of the indigenous peoples who were original inhabitants of the land where protests were taking place.  @Karen Ramsey
©Victoria Pickering
©Victoria Pickering

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.

Jane Fonda with June Diane Raphael and Brooklyn Decker. ©Karen Ramsey
©Victoria Pickering
Yvette Arellano, Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services, spoke passionately about the links between environmental justice and climate. She is holding aloft a bottle of water from Dimock, Pennsylvania. A protestor came to DC each week with this water to show how contaminated their tap water is after fracking in the area. ©Karen Ramsey
Jane Fonda with Brooklyn Decker on her left. ©Victoria Pickering
Police waiting to start arrests. ©Victoria Pickering
@Victoria Pickering
Firas Nasr, founder of WERK for Peace, interviews Jane Fonda. ©Karen Ramsey
Jane Fonda cheering on those being arrested. ©Karen Ramsey

Week 7 – November 22

Focus: Justice

On week 7, there was a large crowd despite the rain. Fonda was joined by Diane Lane, Piper Perabo, and Manny Jacinto.

The Alaska Wilderness League and the Arctic Refuge Defense Campaign. ©Karen Ramsey
Actor Amber Valletta flashes a peace signs as she waits to be processed with Piper Perabo, Diane Lane and other fellow protestors. ©Karen Ramsey
Jane Fonda and Manny Jacinto cheering on those being arrested. @Victoria Pickering
Diane Lane being arrested. ©Victoria Pickering
©Victoria Pickering
Needing to use oxygen but still volunteering to be arrested. ©Victoria Pickering

Week 8 – November 29

Focus: Food and agriculture

On week 8, arrests took place on the steps of the Capitol.

Actors Iain Armitage and Paul Scheer join Jane Fonda and speaker Lindsey Allen, Executive Director, Rainforest Action Network on the Capitol steps to engage in or support those engaging in, civil disobedience. ©Karen Ramsey
Fonda and a crowd looking on as the activists get arrested. ©Victoria Pickering
The Capitol Police give three warnings for people to leave the area or risk arrest. ©Karen Ramsey
@Victoria Pickering

The youth activists from Fridays for Future joined the protest, and held a funeral for the planet.

Youth activist at Funeral For Our Future ©Karen Ramsey
Youth activists, including Fridays for Future organizer Kallan Benson (second from left), dressed in black for the funeral ©Victoria Pickering

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.

The Rev. Kaji Douša from Park Avenue Christian Church was one of the faith-based speakers highlighting connections between climate, migration and human dignity. ©Karen Ramsey
Taylor Schilling, Jane Fonda, Rev. Kaji Douša, Kyra Sedgwick behind the Fire Drill Friday banner as the group marches through downtown Washington, D.C. ©Karen Ramsey
©Victoria Pickering
Photographer Annie Leibovitz. ©Rob Klug
Santa Claus donned a gas mask to highlight the impacts of climate change ©Rob Klug
Media and Photographers on the leading edge of the protest crowd as the group moves through downtown. ©Rob Klug
Members of the Sunrise Movement link arms in front of Wells Fargo Bank. The protests moved from Franklin Square to banks and financial institutions that profit from the climate crisis and immigrant detention ©Karen Ramsey

Week 10 – December 13

Focus: Jobs and communities

Jane Fonda is joined by Sally Fields, with heavy rain and arrests on the Capitol steps.

Sally Field admonishes Congress for failing to act on climate change. ©Karen Ramsey
Despite the heavy rains, many turned out with umbrellas and ponchos to listen to speakers on a transition to green jobs that will benefit workers and the environment. ©Karen Ramsey
Clint Sobratti, a bus driver in Montgomery County, MD and member of UFCW Local 1994 spoke about working in public transit job that directly reduces demand on fossil fuels. ©Karen Ramsey
Students from Hamilton Elementary Middle School in Northeast Baltimore attended the event with their teacher, Kristin Taylor, and shared their views on communities in transition. ©Karen Ramsey
Winona LaDuke, co-founder of Honor The Youth With The Indigo Girls, shared an impassioned speech on her work with environmental justice in indigenous communities. ©Karen Ramsey
Sally Field, Jane Fonda, Clint Sobratti and Winona LaDuke. ©Karen Ramsey
Jane Fonda cheers on the protestors being arrested. ©Karen Ramsey
A U.S. Capitol Police officer stands in the drizzling rain and holds the barrier line while protestors are arrested on the steps of the Capitol ©Karen Ramsey
Sally Field being arrested. ©Karen Ramsey

Week 11 – December 20

Focus: Health

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).

Roshi Joan Halifax, Heather McTeer, Jane Fonda, Gloria Steinem, Anabell Castro Thompson, and Laura Seydel march past the Supreme Court towards the Capitol ©Karen Ramsey
Jane Fonda celebrating her birthday through protest. @Karen Ramsey
Gloria Steinem holding her notes as she spoke to the gathered crowd about the rollback in environmental protections and climate change. ©Karen Ramsey
Annie Leibovitz. ©Karen Ramsey
Rev. William J. Barber II, Roshi Joan Halifax, Jane Fonda, Anabell Castro Thompson, Casey Wilson and Dolores Huerta pose with speakers before they depart the stage for the Hart Building ©Karen Ramsey
Sitting in Hart waiting for arrest. ©Victoria Pickering
Jane Fonda with Roshi Joan Halifax. ©Victoria Pickering
Jane Fonda with Reverend William Barber. ©Victoria Pickering
Jane Fonda being arrested. ©Victoria Pickering
Catherine Keener and Roseanne Arquette talk in handcuffs as they wait to be loaded into police vans and taken to the processing facility at 67 K Street SW. ©Karen Ramsey
Gloria Steinem being arrested. ©Victoria Pickering
Gloria Steinem waiting to be taken to the holding facility after arrest. ©Victoria Pickering
Gloria Steinem released several hours after arrest. ©Karen Ramsey

Week 12 – December 27

Focus: Forests

Lily Tomlin joined Jane Fonda this week. Arrests were on the Capitol steps.

Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin on the way to the rally. ©Karen Ramsey
Jane Fonda leads celebrities and speakers on the forests and climate change towards the Capitol. ©Karen Ramsey
Lily Tomlin speaking. ©Karen Ramsey
Rolando Navarro from the Center for International Environmental Law, Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, and Gaurav Madan from Friends of the Earth with protestors in front of the US Capitol Building. ©Karen Ramsey
Rebeka Ryvola, Jesse Nightwalker, Nicky Sundt and Keya Chatterjee. ©Karen Ramsey
Capturing a quick selfie before moving away from the steps. As the Capitol Police give three warnings before starting arrests, those protestors that had not planned on being arrested that day move behind the police barricade before the area is blocked off.  ©Karen Ramsey
Lily Tomlin being arrested. ©Karen Ramsey
Lily Tomlin being arrested. ©Karen Ramsey

Week 13 – January 3

Focus: Holding fossil fuel corporations accountable

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.

Janene Yazzie, Co-Founder and CEO, Sixth World Solutions, and Jane Fonda prepare to march toward the speaker’s stage. ©Karen Ramsey
While the protests were based in Washington, DC, the cultivate strategies team maintained a live feed and social media content to expand reach and encourage local activism. ©Karen Ramsey
Speakers and media move up East Capitol Street towards the stage. ©Karen Ramsey
Sam Waterston, Janet Redman, Iain Armitage, Jane Fonda, Janene Yazzie, Tamara Toles O’Laughlin, Katie Redord and Donna Chavis. ©Karen Ramsey
Sam Waterston, Janet Redman, Iain Armitage, Jane Fonda, Janene Yazzie, and Tamara Toles O’Laughlin. ©Karen Ramsey
Ellen Dorsey, Janet Redman, Jane Fonda, Donna Chavis, Janene Yazzie, Tamara Toles O’Laighlin, Katie Redford and Josh Fox. ©Karen Ramsey
Tamara Toles O’Laughlin, Janene Yazzie and Sam Waterston listen as Jane Fonda opens the event. ©Karen Ramsey
Josh Fox, writer and director of the award-winning 2010 documentary film, Gasland, about natural gas drilling and fracking in communities in the United States, spoke about holding fossil fuel companies accountable for the damage caused by fracking. ©Karen Ramsey
Ira Arlook of Fenton Communications. ©Karen Ramsey
Iain Armitage’s mother with some environmentally related books for him to read. ©Karen Ramsey
Veronica Coptis (Center for Coalfield Justice), Sam Waterston (actor/director), Tamara Toles O’Laughlin (, Janene Yazzie (Sixth World Solutions), Donna Chavis (Friends of the Earth U.S.), Katie Redford (EarthRights International), Josh Fox (writer/director), Iain Armitage (actor), Jane Fonda (actor/activist), Ellen Dorsey (Wallace Global Fund), and Janet Redman (Greenpeace USA). ©Karen Ramsey
©Karen Ramsey
The police give 3 warnings for people to move out of the way or they will risk arrest for Crowding, Obstructing and Incommoding under DC Code 22-1307. ©Karen Ramsey
Jane Fonda cheers on those being arrested in civil disobedience action. The charge is incommoding public space for blocking the roadway after being asked to move. ©Karen Ramsey
Jane Fonda watching the arrests. ©Victoria Pickering
Iain Armitage. ©Victoria Pickering
Katie Redford of EarthRights International being patted down after being arrested. ©Karen Ramsey
Sam Waterston just after being arrested, standing next to Katie Redford from EarthRights International, who was one of the speakers. ©Victoria Pickering

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.

As those being arrested gathered to prepare, they were fed by organizers as they would not have access to food while in police custody.  ©Karen Ramsey
Jane Fonda with June Diane Raphael. ©Karen Ramsey
Art Laffin and Martin Sheen ©Karen Ramsey
One protestors granddaughter designed her red coat, the signature color for the Fire Drill Friday events, and she had fellow protestors sign it as a souvenir of their climate activism ©Karen Ramsey

Each week, volunteers set up a stage on the Capitol grounds.

Early morning the organizers set up the stage and sound systems in the permitted area for the rally. ©Karen Ramsey

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.

©Karen Ramsey
©Karen Ramsey

After the meeting in the church, the group marched over to the stage and the presentations began.

Joaquin Phoenix, Omekongo Dibinga, Jane Fonda, Eriel Tchekwie Deranger, and Naomi Klein lead protestors forward. ©Karen Ramsey
Chris Soderstrom. ©Rob Klug
Women from Extinction Rebellion. ©Rob Klug
©Rob Klug
Waiting for arrest on the Capitol steps. ©Karen Ramsey
Chants while waiting to be arrested. ©Victoria Pickering
Arrests being processed. ©Karen Ramsey
Released from arrest. ©Karen Ramsey
This police officer was at many of the protests, and handled the events with great patience, humor, and professionalism. Amber Valletta (middle) is being escorted out of the restricted area after being arrested and released. ©Karen Ramsey

Jane Fonda cheered for the activists getting arrested, and greeted and hugged them as they got released.

©Victoria Pickering
©Rob Klug
©Rob Klug
Martin Sheen released from arrest. ©Karen Ramsey
Martin Sheen released from arrest. ©Rob Klug
Martin Sheen and Jane Fonda after he was released from arrest. ©Victoria Pickering
Joaquin Phoenix was one of the last to be released from arrest. ©Victoria Pickering

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.

To see the future actions of Fire Drill Friday, see their Facebook page and website.