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Sierra Club Stands in Solidarity with Occupy Wall Street Protests
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by Sarah Hodgdon, Conservation Director, and Dave Scott, Vice President for Conservation | 2011

For the past several weeks Occupy Wall Street protesters have peacefully held vigil in support of a broad vision for financial, political, and environmental reform in America. From this creative hub of activity, a diverse group of students, members of labor unions, environmentalists, and concerned citizens have helped this grassroots protest spread to more than 1,400 events nationwide. Many Sierra Club staff and volunteer leaders have participated in and/or lent support to these demonstrations standing up for the end to corporate greed. The demands and values of the protesters are very much in line with Sierra Club’s strategic priority of confronting the power of the coal and oil industries.

Volunteer leads and staff around the country have requested that we make clear where the Sierra Club stands on these protests. This memo is designed to provide our initial thinking and guidance.

In a vibrant democracy, peaceful protest and demonstration is among the highest form of citizen engagement in the democratic process. Since the founding of our republic, ordinary citizens have accomplished extraordinary things by joining together to express their convictions. It is our heritage to speak truth to power, and our nation’s historic respect for peaceful dissent has helped the United States enact civil rights legislation, promote human rights internationally, and end unjust wars. Citizen engagement has brought this country out of its darkest hours and helped us fulfill our promises of justice and equality to millions.

The Sierra Club affirms its support for the exercise of political expression through the Occupy Wall Street protests. Corporations that pollute our air, land and water, that put greed ahead of community good, public health and the nation’s economic well-being must be held fully accountable.

In our work around the country, we have seen first-hand how international coal and oil companies have wrecked communities, polluted our environment, and dominated the political process. We stand with Occupy Wall Street protesters in saying “enough.”

Finally, we want to make clear to all Sierra Club staff and volunteers, that you are authorized to participate in lawful and peaceful Occupy Wall Street protests in the name of the Sierra Club.

The corporate accountability message these protests are carrying fits very well with our strategic priority of confronting the power of coal and oil and contribute to our strategic priorities of building a movement and fostering key partnerships. We will shortly be providing further message guidance and support materials to help the Sierra Club add its voice to this powerful choir.

If you have questions regarding our position, please feel free to contact Bob Bingaman at bob.bingaman@sierraclub.org  or 202-977-7904.

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