Climate change 'squad' traps campus leaders

A group of students blocked the University of Michigan Board of Regents from leaving a building while protesting climate change.

On Nov. 5, members of UM’s One University Campaign and Climate Action Movement blocked the exits of the school’s golf course, where executives were voting on a new financial strategy that involves increased investment in fossil fuels. The protesters sought to pressure the board into voting down the new investment, as well as instituting a number of other environmental reforms. 

A joint statement released by the protesting groups explained that they want the University to “immediately freeze all new fossil fuel investments,” to achieve “carbon neutrality by 2030,” as well as to apologize for arresting other climate protests in March, among other demands.

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However, before the students descended on the regents, the board had already voted unanimously against more investment in fossil fuels. One regent even expressed his intent to divest in fossil fuels before the meeting began. 

Despite this, the students managed to sustain their barricade for nearly an hour as the regents attempted to go home, forcing police to divert traffic.

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“The regents have not met our demands so we are blocking the regents from leaving the premises,” the students behind the protest said on Facebook. 

Prior to the event, organizers urged participants to dress in all black. This style of protest garb is called “black bloc” and today is most commonly associated with Antifa. The protesters also described themselves in militant terms. Facebook posts by the Climate Action Movement called groups of protesters “squads,” while those who blocked exits were referred to as “gate guards.” 

“Together, students issued a warning to President Schlissel” the protesters say in their statement. “we will no longer tolerate empty words… the timeline to mitigate and reverse the climate crisis is urgent.”

University of Michigan Assistant Vice President for Public Affairs Rick Fitzgerald declined to comment on whether or not the school plans to address these demands, or if the protesting students will face disciplinary action, telling Campus Reform that the university had handled the matters with the individual groups “directly.”

No arrests were made during the protests, according to Michigan Live.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @KyleHooten2