Joaquin Phoenix, Susan Sarandon, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Martin Sheen joined Jane Fonda for the final “Fire Drill Friday” rally on Capitol Hill on Friday.
And, yes, some of those celebrities were arrested, namely “Joker” star Phoenix and Fonda’s “Grace & Frankie” costar Sheen, in the latest display of civil disobedience surrounding the protests.
U.S. Capitol Police responded to unlawful demonstration activity on the Rotunda steps of the U.S. Capitol Building and 147 individuals were arrested; all were charged with crowding, obstructing or incommoding, a police spokesperson said.
However, Ira Arlook, a spokesman for the Fire Drill Fridays organization, said that the number was much higher, estimating that at least 300 people — Phoenix and Sheen among them — were arrested and police processed everyone on site. Those who were detained will have to return to police headquarters Saturday to pay a $50 post-and-forfeit fine, he added.
Fonda, who has been arrested five times in recent months, was not detained Friday but walked to the steps with the demonstrators, went to another protest site and then returned to welcome everybody as they were being processed and leaving, Arlook said. About 500 people total were arrested during the months-long course of the protest.
Before being led off by cops, Phoenix addressed the crowd and took aim at the meat and dairy industry, urging the throng gathered on the southeast lawn of the U.S. Capitol building to change their consumption habits. It echoed the Golden Globes acceptance speech centered on climate change that he delivered last Sunday.
“I struggle so much with what I can do [to combat climate change] at times. There are things that I can’t avoid — I flew a plane out here today, or last night rather. But one thing that I can do is change my eating habits.”
Sheen, who called Fonda one of his heroes, passionately recited Rabindranath Tagore’s poem “Where the Mind Is Without Fear.”
Friday’s demonstration marked the 14th and final gathering of the Fire Drill Friday protests. It focused on the major banks and investors that finance fossil-fuel exploration, drilling, refining and export, according to a press release from the group.
Fonda, 82, described the underwriting as “suicide investments” and said their days are numbered. She and demonstrators also occupied a Chase bank branch on Capitol Hill during Friday’s display.
Crowds of demonstrators have been gathering every Friday for the past several months to promote climate change awareness and other environmental issues. The group has demanded a Green New Deal, respect of indigenous land and sovereignty, environmental justice, protection and restoration of biodiversity, and implementation of sustainable agriculture.
Sam Waterston, Ted Danson, Rosanna Arquette, Sally Field, Diane Lane and model Amber Valletta were among the famous faces who have been arrested alongside Fonda over the course of the protests, which began in October.
Longtime political activist Fonda — in her blazing red coat — has become the celebrity face of Fire Drill Fridays after moving to the nation’s capital for four months to advocate on behalf of climate change issues. The Oscar-winning actress, 82, was inspired by the growing movement of young climate strikers and has enthusiastically been arrested several times for civil disobedience during her time there. In November, after her fourth arrest, she spent one night in jail.
The actress will head back to Los Angeles this weekend to begin work on the final season of her Netflix comedy “Grace & Frankie.” The drills are expected to resume in California once a month, with the first planned for Feb. 7 in L.A.