Mission activists Nancy Pili Hernandez and Karen Topakian were released from jail on Thursday after being arrested and charged for climbing a construction crane in the nation’s capital to protest President Donald Trump.
“As cold or uncomfortable as it might have been, those things are unimportant when it comes to the risk that democracy is facing,” Topakian said in a phone conversation on Friday. “Being cold for a few hours is a very small price to pay.”
Pili Hernandez, a Mission youth advocate and muralist, and Topakian, a Mission resident and chair of the environmental group Greenpeace, were among seven activists who on Wednesday morning climbed a crane to hoist a 75-foot banner that read “Resist” in plain view of the White House.
Their peaceful protest came at the end of Trump’s first week in office, during which he signed a slew of executive orders that among other things would restart two controversial pipeline project, threaten environmental policy, rollback healthcare and boost deportations.
The group of activists spent a night in jail and were each charged with three misdemeanors for the action. They spent a total of 14 hours in harnesses, dangling from the crane in an act of civil disobedience.
“There’s a lot of messaging coming out from this Administration and in past few days, every executive order that has been signed [has] been pushing us backwards as far as the work that has been done in social and environmental justice,” Pili Hernandez said in a phone conversation today.
At about 10 p.m. on Wednesday, the activists decided to descend the crane, but only after listening to Solange’s “Cranes in the Sky,” said Pili Hernandez, who said the group had been fully aware that they would face police once they reached solid ground.
Pili Hernandez and Topakian spent 18 hours in jail before being processed and released. Before the action, they arrived in the nation’s capital to witness Trump’s January 20 inauguration and to participate in the Women’s March held the following day that drew some 500,000 people.
Topakian said their message was directed at “people who are feeling hopeless and in despair because of this administration,” as well as to the president “to say that we will resist what you are doing and fight back on things we think are going in the wrong direction.”