Jane Fonda says Swedish teen’s activism inspired her to get arrested at climate change protest | Greta Thunberg

AP Archive

Oct 23, 2019


Inspired by the climate activism of a Swedish teenager, Jane Fonda said Friday (18 OCTOBER 2019) that she is returning to civil disobedience nearly a half-century after she was last arrested at a protest.

Fonda, known for her opposition to the Vietnam War, was one of 17 climate protesters arrested Friday at the U.S. Capitol on charges of unlawful demonstration by what she called “extremely nice and professional” police.

Fellow actor Sam Waterston was also in the group, which included many older demonstrators. Fonda said it was Waterston’s first arrest.

“Next weekend, we’re going to focus on oceans and Ted Danson is going to get arrested and he’s never been arrested before. So I’m bringing my pals along with me,” she said.

Now 81, Fonda said she plans to get arrested every Friday to advocate for urgent reduction in the use of fossil fuels. She hopes to encourage other older people to protest as well.

“I’ve been a climate activist for a long time, and I’ve made the individual lifestyle choices. I drive an electric car. I recycle, I eat less meat. I get rid of plastic and so forth. But I’m aware of the fact that individual choices like that can’t be brought to scale fast enough to get us where we need to be,” Fonda said in an interview. “So I was asking myself, what can I do more? And Greta Thunberg, the young Swedish student who went on the school strike every Friday, she really moved me. And then I read a book by Naomi Klein — her last book called ‘On Fire: The Burning Case For a Green New Deal.’ And those two things made me realize that I had to put myself on the line to join with the things that the students are doing and Greta is doing — to heighten the sense of urgency.”

Getting arrested in 2019, poses some entirely new challenges, Fonda told The Associated Press in an interview.

These days, “they use white plastic things on your wrists instead of metal handcuffs, and that hurts more,” she said.

“The only problem for me is I’m old,” Fonda said. After her first arrest last week, she had trouble getting into the police vehicle because she was handcuffed behind her back and “had nothing to hang on to.”

On Friday, Fonda emerged from a cluster of officers and stepped smartly into the police wagon, her hands cuffed in front of her.

She said her target audience now is people like her who try to cut their plastic use and drive fuel-efficient cars, for instance, but otherwise “don’t know what to do and they feel helpless,” she said. “We’re trying to encourage people to become more active, across the age spectrum.”

“We know from history that people getting arrested, celebrities getting arrested, attracts attention. I’m particularly thinking of Randall Robinson’s actions in the ’80s protesting against apartheid, where every day, week after week, month after month, with thousands of people — including many celebrities — in front of the South African embassy, they would all get arrested and it attracted attention and it eventually worked,” Fonda said. “And I’m hoping that these ‘fire drill Fridays’ will spread across the country. We call them ‘fire drill Fridays’ because Gretta Thunbeg had said, ‘We have to act like our house is on fire, because it is.'”

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