British-Backed Environmental Group Enters Colorado, Wins Support of Denver City Council Member
A foreign environmental group, recently backed by new donations from wealthy United States billionaires and anti-energy groups, has popped up on the scene in Colorado, seeking to cause mayhem at government meetings and to shut down oil and natural gas production.
In just the past week, the British-based Extinction Rebellion has turned up at three different public, local government meetings attempting to intimidate and disrupt. Last Wednesday, the group repeatedly interrupted a public comment period at a Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) hearing that forced the need for additional security to ensure safety. The next day, the group was at the U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis field hearing in Boulder, posing in clock outfits to signal that time has run out to address climate change.
Yesterday, they hosted a “die-in” at the Denver City Council to support communities effected by “an economy based on insane growth models.” During public comment, one Extinction Rebellion member said that climate change would lead to fascism before the rest of the group caused a brief recess when they began singing in the chambers and laid down in front of the council members. Normal business eventually resumed with the group still laying on the floor.
One council member, the self-described “anarchist” Candi CdeBaca, posed for photos with the group and recorded a video message backing the group’s protest by saying, “I respect, I support it, and I would love to help you guys.”
CdeBaca’s upset victory for city council was supported by Emerge Colorado. Western Wire reached out CdeBaca for comment and the story will be updated if she responds.
Aggressive campaigns have become a hallmark of Extinction Rebellion not just in Colorado, but also nationally and globally. Members in Washington, D.C. superglued themselves to hallways in the capitol building in an attempt to disrupt votes in the House of Representatives. In New York, 70 protestors were arrested in June for blocking traffic and hanging banners from the New York Times building, where a group spokesman called for “more radical responses.”
In the UK, the group caused traffic disruption in five different cities last month demanding action from the British government including net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. The group is currently developing a plan to withhold their taxes until the UK government enacts stronger environmental policies.
On their website, Extinction Rebellion says, “We are promoting mass ‘above the ground’ civil disobedience – in full public view. This means economic disruption to shake the current political system and civil disruption to raise awareness. We are deeply sorry for any inconvenience that this causes.”
The group was formed by a group of British radicals including a Welsh organic farmer and an English anti-natural gas activist who was previously involved with the Occupy movement and went to Costa Rica for a psychedelic getaway that inspired her creation of the group.
The well-organized international movement has received significant funding for efforts in the United States attributed to the funding it has received from a number of wealthy donors, including Aileen Getty – the granddaughter of the late oil businessman J. Paul Getty.
Getty has supported a number of social causes throughout her adult life but has most recently turned to environmental issues. According to the Washington Post, Getty is a founding member of the Climate Emergency Fund, which has raised $600,000 and committed grant-funding to Extinction Rebellion, with a promise to raise millions more.
The money has been designated for bullhorns and banners as part of the group’s disruptive protests. Well-known activist and 350.org founder Bill McKibben is a board member of the Climate Emergency Fund.
Getty Oil was sold in 1984 and the family’s net worth is $5 billion, but Aileen Getty didn’t specify if she had completely divested her inheritance from all fossil fuel companies. Getty owns a large, 5,255-square foot, six-bedroom mansion in Malibu, Calif. that was initially listed for $14.1 million in 2017.
Getty has partnered up with Trevor Neilson, a former Clinton White House staffer who’s made a career out of consulting for Hollywood celebrities and professional athletes who are looking to become involved in philanthropic causes.
But Neilson’s business has come under scrutiny for using charitable giving as a means to boost the public perception of high-profile individuals facing controversy. In a profile by the New Yorker in 2012, Neilson said that philanthropy should be “acknowledged.”
The New Yorker reported that Neilson’s company charges clients up to $25,000 a month and that Neilson lives in a wealthy neighborhood on the Pacific coast.
Extinction Rebellion plans to hold a “Rebellion Strategy Camp” this weekend where “sadness, desperation, and rage are appropriate responses” to climate change.