BOSTON (SHNS) – Ten climate activists from a recently launched advocacy group disrupted a fundraiser for Gov. Maura Healey at a private Nantucket home over the weekend, urging the governor to halt the construction of new fossil fuel projects across the state.
Climate Defiance, a youth-led “disruptive action organization” based in Washington, D.C., targeted Healey with demands similar to those made by Extinction Rebellion, whose members have been arrested at two protests at the State House this year as they’ve called on the administration and Legislature to block new fossil fuel infrastructure.
Members of Climate Defiance, which targets “federal figures,” heckled Vice President Kamala Harris as she spoke during a fundraiser on Martha’s Vineyard this month, said Climate Defiance staffer Martin Gioannetti, who interned for Rep. Denise Garlick and the Department of Public Utilities this summer.
At the Saturday fundraiser, Climate Defiance member Matt Lyon said he interrupted Healey as she stood on the patio to thank donors and asked if she would commit to stopping fossil fuel projects. Lyon, who’s also an Extinction Rebellion member, said he was arrested at the State House in May during the sit-in inside the empty House chamber.
“We knew this was an important event for her so we took the opportunity to bring the reality of the climate crisis and the urgency …” Lyon told the News Service. “The idea was bringing that emergency to them — making them feel the urgency and the responsibility they act.” A Healey spokesperson declined to comment, though the governor has praised the new state budget for making the “largest commitment to climate in Massachusetts history.”
After falling short for many years, 1 percent of the budget is now allocated to energy and environment, Healey shared in a post this month. Lyon said Healey didn’t directly answer his question and instead spoke about her lawsuit, filed during her tenure as attorney general, against ExxonMobil for misleading investors about climate change risks. That deflection, as Lyon described it, prompted activists to begin chanting and unfurling banners that read “end fossil fuels” and “business as usual is a climate disaster.” Fundraiser attendees began screaming at the protestors and telling them to leave, Gioannetti said.
Lyon said Nantucket police officers arrived as Climate Defiance members left “voluntarily and peacefully.” “No one was arrested but we were really harassed. We are really fighting for our future and we don’t want to die,” Gioannetti said of the climate crisis.