Sunrise Movement activists pressure Rep. Davids to get behind Green New Deal

SM East junior Violet Apodaca was among the organizers of the demonstration, and said the Green New Deal offers a way to combat climate change.

The Kansas City chapter of Sunrise Movement, a national group working to address  climate change, demonstrated outside of Rep. Sharice Davids’s Overland Park office on Friday, pressuring the first-term Congresswoman to publicly support the Green New Deal.

Four speakers, including two Shawnee Mission East High School students, spoke at the demonstration, demanding she take action against climate change.

“For much of the eight years I have been fighting for climate justice, there weren’t any opportunities for strong climate action to be easily taken,” SM East junior Violet Apodaca said. “But now, there is: the Green New Deal is right there, Rep. Davids, all you have to do is support it.”

Davids indicated during a town hall moderated by the Shawnee Mission Post in March that she wasn’t ready yet to support the package. Introduced by U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Green New Deal calls for gradually cutting out fossil fuel usage and employing Americans in clean energy industries.

Protestors initially attempted to speak directly to Rep. Davids in her office, but were greeted by Overland Park police officers at the door. They were not allowed to enter the representative’s office because it is private property, but were able to protest in the grassy area in front of her office, a police officer told them.

Kiana Harris, Sunrise Movement KC hub trainer and Wyandotte County native, spoke to the reason behind her frustration with Davids: She voted for Rep. Davids, and said she expected a representative who would fight for Kansas residents.

Additionally, Harris said when Sunrise visited Rep. Davids’ office hours back in August regarding the Green New Deal, the response was a letter with “politician speak.”

“If for some reason you can’t [sign the Green New Deal], Rep. Davids — which I know you can — but if you can’t, then step aside,” Harris said. “We have 11 years. We do not have time to wait for politicians who can’t decide if they want to enter the ring with us and fight.”

Richard Mabion, a representative of both the Kansas City, Kan., chapter of the NAACP and the Kansas Sierra Club, asked Davids to sign the Green New Deal for Public Housing Bill. Mabion said Wyandotte County residents would benefit from not only the environmental improvements to public housing, but would also be employed to make those improvements.

SM East senior Mary McConville closed the demonstration with a speech about how the climate emergency is jeopardizing her and her peers’ futures. McConville said Davids was elected with the expectation that she would fight for environmental justice and the livelihoods of her constituents.

“We demand action,” McConville said. “We demand it now, and we will not stand by and allow our lives to be threatened by this.”

Sunrise also held numerous climate strikes nationwide the same day, including one at the Kansas City, Mo., City Hall.

Davids’ office has not responded to a request for comment on this story.