It went just as she’d planned.
Jane Fonda was arrested Friday in front of the U.S. Capitol as part of her efforts to join the fight against climate change.
“Today, the United States Capitol Police arrested 16 individuals for unlawfully demonstrating on the East Front of the U.S. Capitol,” Eva Malecki, communications director for the Capitol Police, said in an email. They were all charged for crowding, obstructing or “incommoding,” she added.
Mike Valerio, a reporter with the Washington TV outlet WUSA, posted video on Twitter of the 81-year-old, clad all in red, handcuffed and being escorted off the steps of the Capitol by authorities. A small group of protesters stood by, applauding.
Fonda, the Academy Award- and Golden Globe-winning actress, activist and former model, recently moved from her Los Angeles home to D.C. for four months to join the climate change movement. She was inspired by teenage Swedish activist Greta Thunberg and Randall Robinson, the lawyer who protested outside the South African embassy in the 1980s to stop apartheid.
Fonda’s arrest was part of her plan to execute a series of teach-ins and weekly rallies outside the Capitol to urge the government to enact changes to address climate change.
These protests, which Fonda called “Fire Drill Friday,” will happen at 11 a.m. on Fridays in front of the Capitol, she told The Times in a recent interview. Every week, they’ll highlight a different issue. She’ll be joined by groups including Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and Oil Change International, all of which are active against climate change.
In the interview, Fonda detailed the changes her rallies will demand.
She said stopping all new leasing permits for fossil fuel development on waters and public lands was the most important, “because no matter what we do, if that doesn’t stop, we’re doomed.” She’s also calling for a gradual discontinuation of fossil fuel use over 30 years while ensuring that employees can find work in other industries.
“The fossil fuel industry is going to have to leave trillions and trillions of dollars in the ground, and they’re going to be asked to pay for the mess they’ve made,” she said. “And I have not an iota of compunction about the fact that we should insist on that. Because if they had told the truth 30 years ago, the transition could have been moderate, could have been incremental. But because they lied and covered up what they knew, now what we have to do is radical.”
Fonda had hoped to take a year’s hiatus from her Netflix series “Grace and Frankie,” a comedy series she stars in, to live in Washington, but she was contractually unable to. Once the show ends, she intends to return to the Capitol steps, she said.
The actress has a long history of political activism. She participated in the 1960s civil rights movement, was a vocal and controversial opponent of the Vietnam War and supported the Black Panthers.
In the early 1970s, Fonda was arrested at a Cleveland airport on suspicion of drug trafficking. Lab tests later confirmed that the pills she was carrying were vitamins.
And she’s not afraid to be jailed again.
“I’ve been here before,” she said in the interview. “I mean, I can’t be attacked any more than I already have. So what can [Trump] do? I’ve got nothing to lose.”