September 20, 2020
Hawkins Says Climate Justice Requires Racial Justice
(New York, NY) Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for President, said that achieving racial justice was essential to the effort for effective climate action.
Hawkins, who participated in the march for Climate Justice Through Racial Justice in Manhattan on Sunday, outlined 7 key initiatives: Green New Deal, Economic Bill of Rights, Medicare for All, Homes for all, Democratic Community Control of the Police, Reparations for African-American rights, and Honor Indigenous Treaty Rights.
“People of color and low-income communities are the principal victims of climate change. We face this existential threat to our future since the leaders of both major parties, in exchange for campaign contributions, allow fossil fuel companies and others to pollute and exploit such communities. We can not solve climate change without system change, including ending racial injustice,” said Hawkins, the first US candidate to campaign for a Green New Deal in his 2010 race for Governor of New York.
Hawkins noted that the march included the key demands of zero emissions by 2030 and a halt to new fossil fuel infrastructure, positions opposed by Trump and Democrats, including Biden. Trump and Biden also oppose an immediate ban on fracking, a position Hawkins first campaigned for in 2010.
“We need a socialist economic democracy that empowers the racially oppressed and the economically exploited to receive the full value of their labor and provide for their own communities,” said Hawkins, a retired Teamster from Syracuse. “We need a democratic and ecological socialism, so we have the power to meet the basic needs of all within ecological limits.”
Hawkins, while supporting the Defund the Police demand to reallocate a significant portion of police budgets to needed social services, stated that “we need to go further. Reforms that do not include who controls the police, who they work for, who has the power over policing will not stop the police killings of unarmed Black people or the racism that pervades all our institutions. We need community control of the police to transform policing so that it serves and protects those who are now oppressed instead of the property and privileges of the powerful elites. We need the ability to clean house and rid police departments of racist and sadistic officers.”
Hawkins and his vice presidential running mate, Angela Walker, also want to defund the military by 75% to provide services instead of criminal charges to poor and working-class people of color, including homes for the homeless instead of vagrancy charges, drug treatment for the addicted instead of criminal charges, and counselors instead of cops for people with mental health crises.
Hawkins’ ecosocialist Green New Deal (GND) plan includes a multi-trillion investment in jobs, businesses, housing, schools, health care, and public transit in racially-oppressed communities that have been segregated, discriminated, and exploited for generations. A significant portion of GND funding will bypass governors and mayors who have misused and abused these communities and fund community- and cooperatively-owned businesses, GND factories, and housing and community-controlled schools, health care, public transit, and police.
Hawkins said today’s youth-led anti-racist and divestment demands in the climate justice movement were similar to the youth-led anti-apartheid movement’s divestment demands a generation ago. It was at Hawkins’ initiative that Dartmouth College students built a shantytown on the college green in the fall of 1985 demanding divestment of college funds from companies doing business in apartheid South Africa. That action sparked shantytown protests on campuses across the nation and a swelling of anti-apartheid actions across society over the next year until the US government imposed sanctions on South Africa in the fall of 1986. The apartheid regime responded by freeing Nelson Mandela and negotiating a transition to democracy. 1243 institutions have divested $14.38 trillion from fossil fuel companies to date.
“The anti-apartheid divestment movement aroused a new generation of activists. Zephyr Teachout has said that visiting the Dartmouth shantytown when she was in high school near the college was an inspiration for her activism. We see the same happening today with youth in the climate justice movement today. It is time for New York State to listen to these young people who are fighting for their future and divest,” Hawkins said.