A funeral procession for the climate crashes Atlantic Antic

September 30, 2019 Paul Stremple
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The 2019 Atlantic Antic was in full swing — there was sun, there were crowds, there was food — when an unexpected group appeared: a funeral procession.

Dressed in black and bearing coffins labeled “Our Future,” some 50 activists from Brooklyn chapters of the climate-crisis advocacy group Extinction Rebellion made their way down Atlantic Avenue, accompanied by musicians playing the bluesy funeral songs of a New Orleans second line.

As onlookers watched and filmed on their phones, activists distributed flyers calling for action against the global climate crisis. Periodically, they fell to the ground “dead” while a member of the group read a poem or short piece relating to climate change.

The procession makes its way through Atlantic Antic. Eagle photo by Paul Stremple

There were sporadic cheers of encouragement and some spontaneous clapping from festival-goers that agreed with the mission. Many on the sidelines were slower to engage, whispering “What are they rebelling against?,” but eventually picked up on the message as the procession made its way through the crowd, police and security clearing a path.

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Nora Almeida, one of the marchers, wore a black mourning veil and carried a bouquet. She said a “performative, direct action” like this one was the best way to reach the community. “It’s fun, it gets people’s attention, and it works.”

Mourners drop “dead.” Eagle photo by Paul Stremple

Extinction Rebellion also focuses on building community outside of their actions, gathering to create signs and props at “art build” events that function to create connections among local activists in Brooklyn.

“Whatever comes in the future, we’re gonna need each other,” said Erica Dagress, a Park Slope resident and public school teacher, who highlighted the “reparative culture” of the group’s community projects.

Eagle photo by Paul Stremple

With the U.N. Climate Summit and the arrival of climate activist Greta Thunberg in New York earlier this month, climate change activism has been at the forefront of many New Yorkers’ minds. Brooklyn students recently walked out of school to demand action during the recent Global Climate Strike.

Extinction Rebellion has increased in numbers since its inaugural action, a march through Prospect Park over the summer, Dagress said. They’ve returned to the streets once again to build momentum for their upcoming “Global Rebellion” action on Monday, Oct. 7, which will “peacefully shut down key parts of New York City to force the government to act,” according to their website.

Paul Stremple is a freelance photographer and journalist based in Brooklyn. You can follow his work on Instagram and Twitter.

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