New York, NY — Over 50 New Yorkers rallied outside the New York County Supreme Court on the first day of the People of New York v. ExxonMobil trial, carrying a 100-foot long banner reading “Climate Crisis // #ExxonKnew // Make Them Pay.”
Participants representing frontline communities, young New Yorkers, scientists, activists, and more gathered in Foley Square, the kick-off location of last month’s 250,000-strong New York City Climate Strike. Speakers spoke to honoring the labor of Black women in the fight for social and climate justice, youth leadership catalyzing the climate movement, and the urgent need for all elected officials and decision-makers to put public interest ahead of fossil fuel interests.
While the lawsuit, led by State Attorney General Letitia James and expected to last for three weeks, focuses on Exxon’s investor fraud, organizers note the significance of this case in the fight to hold fossil fuel executives accountable for decades of climate deception and destruction.
Following the rally, New Yorkers packed the courtroom to hear opening arguments and show solidarity in the fight to hold Exxon liable.
Today’s trial opening comes exactly one week before the seventh anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, and follows the 7.6 million-strong Global Climate Strikes, during which New York City youth escalated the demand to make polluters pay. Tomorrow, October 23, the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties will hold a hearing on Exxon’s climate deception in Washington, DC.
“We’re here today in solidarity with Attorney General James, honoring all the Black women, people of color, and frontline communities fighting relentlessly for climate justice. “The likes of Exxon have put us on a first name with climate chaos: Sandy, Maria, Katrina, Paradise lost. The list goes on and on. It’s time to make them pay for their destruction. If we are going to win this fight we need to divest from fossil fuels and uplift and center the amazing leadership of those communities most affected. It’s the only way!,” said Dominique Thomas, New Yorker and 350.org Northeast Field Organizer.
“This is Big Oil’s Big Tobacco moment. And a warning for Big Polluters across the globe and the industries that continue to enable them in fueling the climate crisis. It’s time for people in the U.S. and around the world to stand with courageous leaders like AG James and demand true climate leadership of all our government officials. It’s time to make Big Polluters pay,” said Sriram Madhusoodanan of Corporate Accountability.
“ExxonMobil pulled out all the stops in an effort to keep this trial from reaching the courtroom, and used its vast legal and financial resources to attempt to intimidate community leaders, elected officials and advocacy groups. Thanks to the leadership and determination of New York State Attorney General Letitia James and her team, investors and the public can learn the truth about ExxonMobil’s deceptive conduct,” said Kathy Mulvey, fossil fuel accountability campaign director at the Union of Concerned Scientists
“Make no mistake: Exxon’s PR attempt at tackling the climate crisis is because the youth climate movement has pushed them to the limits that haven’t been tested before. We’re in a new era where the people are successfully holding our corporations and governments accountable. This trial led by Attorney General James is a direct consequence of our movement, and the accountability needed. We can’t wait to keep going and reclaiming the power for the people,” said Shiv Soin, core organizer with Fridays for Future – NYC.
“Corporate deception regarding the impact of fossil fuels on the planet is a matter of life or death. Harm to investors is one small part of the gross harm being caused, which generations to come will have to pay for. We support Attorney General Letitia James and her efforts to hold Exxon accountable for decades of attacks on the science and deception peddled to the public,” said Adelynne Dadivas, Environmental Coordinator for NYPIRG.
Contact: Lindsay Meiman, [email protected], +1 (347) 460-9082