- The Washington Times - Friday, January 10, 2020

Sen. Bernard Sanders on Friday defended climate protesters charged with disrupting Colorado Gov. Jared Polis’ State of the State speech, saying the activists “do not deserve to be arrested,” but should be “applauded and heard.”

Denver police arrested 38 protesters who shouted slogans and draped two anti-fracking banners from the balcony, forcing the Democratic governor’s Thursday address to be delayed by about 15 minutes.

Mr. Sanders defended the protesters on Twitter and linked to a tweet by the Sunrise Movement, a day after the youth climate group endorsed the Vermont senator’s bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

“Young people are showing the courage to lead the fight against a climate disaster when many of our leaders won’t lift a finger. They do not deserve to be arrested — they deserve to be applauded and heard,” Mr. Sanders tweeted.

Activists with the Sunrise Movement and Extinction Rebellion held protests inside and outside the state capitol pegged to the governor’s annual address to the state legislature, even though Mr. Polis is no fracking fan and described the “climate emergency” as “the challenge of our generation.”

“That’s why we have taken bold action to put us on the path to achieving 100% renewable energy by 2040,” he said in his speech.

Police arrested 33 adults, at least five of whom were from out of state, and five juveniles on charges including disrupting a lawful assembly and obstructing a police officer.

Mr. Polis later donated $50 on the GoFundMe page posted by Extinction Rebellion Colorado to raise money for legal costs associated with the protest.

Protesters also threw leaflets on the chamber floor with three demands, including “Declare a climate emergency” and “Develop a plan to end fracking and all fossil fuel extraction in Colorado by 2025,” and accused Mr. Polis of falling short on climate action.

Despite promising to tackle climate change, Mr. Polis “has failed to take on Colorado’s biggest contribution to climate change: fossil fuel extraction,” according to Extinction Rebellion Colorado.

As a congressman, Mr. Polis sought to place two measures aimed at restricting hydraulic fracturing on the 2014 state ballot, but he abandoned the effort after reaching a deal with then-Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Asked Thursday whether he supported a fracking ban, Mr. Polis told the Denver Post, “That’s never been my position.”

Founded in October 2018, Extinction Rebellion is known for using civil disobedience and mass arrests to bring attention to climate issues. One of the group’s chief funders is British billionaire Sir Christopher Hohn, the [U.K.] Telegraph reported.

The Sunrise Movement, founded in 2017, receives funding from liberal foundations such as the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, as well as the Rockefeller Family Fund, the Wallace Global Fund and the Winslow Foundation, according to Inside Philanthropy.

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