Protesters use live street theater in Northampton

By Abigail Charpentier

(Jessica Picard / Daily Collegian)

The Sugar Shack Alliance performed “The People vs. Polluters and Climate Change Deniers” outside of the First Churches of Northampton on Saturday morning to non-violently protest fossil fuel expansion and climate disruption.

According to their website, the Sugar Shack Alliance’s main mission is to act upon “the urgent need to protect the earth and all its inhabitants from climate change and environmental injustice, actively working toward a vision of a just, sustainable and equitable world for all.”

The 20-minute skit was performed multiple times by Aarti Lamberg, Ben van Arnam, David Arbeitman, Howie Faerstein, Irvine Sobelman, John Cohen, Kevin Young and Lundy Bancoft.

The skit takes place in 2025 at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands. The CEO of Fox News, “ex” President Donald Trump, and Fracking, Inc. are the defendants who are being tried for species extinction, crimes against humanity and climate disruption.

Witnesses to the trial include an author and doctor of philosophy, a United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees and the chair of the zoology department at Columbia University. Each of the witnesses use scientific data and facts to show how the defendants put “profits over people” and in doing so, damaged the planet.

In each of the four performances, the audience, who served the role of the jury, decided that Trump, Fox News and Fracking, Inc. were all guilty and needed to be held accountable for their actions.

Before the men were sentenced, Hope, a young girl representing future generations, shared her fears of the future and expressed her disappointment in the actions of the adults in her life. Her monologue was from a speech that Canadian environmental activist Severn Cullis- Suzuki presented at the United Nations when she was a young girl.

The three defendants were sentenced to lose all of their assets, publically apologize for their actions and participate in community service projects to help better the environment.

Rachael Naismith, a member of the Sugar Shack Alliance, hoped audience members walked away with the message that “this planet is in trouble, but it is not too late to go out there and do something to heal the planet.”

Kevin Young, a member of the alliance and an assistant professor of history at the University of Massachusetts, warned of the issue of environmental injustice: “We need to be cognizant of just how severe and urgent this crisis is, and take immediate action on a national and international level.”

He explained a few ways people could start to take immediate action to help the planet.

“We need to rapidly convert our economy to clean energy, we need to leave fossil fuels reserves in the ground and we need to take meaningful action to prevent and limit the actual devastation that is already happening and already impacting the most vulnerable people in the U.S. and throughout the world,” Young said.

Kathy Daly, a member of the Sugar Shack Alliance media team, reflected on the event with the hope that the group could perform the piece to more audiences. She said it was not only a fun way to spread their message, but “one of the more effective ways of capturing peoples’ attention.”

Abigail Charpentier can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @abigailcharp.