8 Arrested After Climate Change Protesters Descend on Ted Cruz's Home

A group of youth climate change activists ended a 400-mile march on Monday from the New Orleans Superdome on the lawn of Senator Ted Cruz in Houston, Texas for a peaceful demonstration that led to several trespassing arrests.

The action outside the Cruz residence was part of Generation on Fire, a campaign by the organization Sunrise Movement. More than 600 members of the initiative set out in two groups along routes that have been devastated by climate change to demonstrate the urgency of the climate and economic crisis, according to Roshi Khosla, a participant and spokesperson.

About 60 to 70 people arrived at the Cruz residence after traveling along a path that Khosla told Newsweek many U.S. climate refugees were forced to traverse after natural disasters, including survivors of Hurricane Katrina. Houston Police said in a media briefing that the group was "extremely peaceful" in exercising its First Amendment rights against climate change.

The eight demonstrators who were arrested were taken into custody for trespassing, said Assistant Police Chief Ben Tien, who added that police provided multiple warnings before the decision was made to arrest the smaller group.

"We took it slow, we worked collectively with the organizers and with the individuals themselves and continued to provide multiple warnings," Tien said. "I just want to take a moment to remind everyone that the Houston Police Department supports First Amendment rights, but it has to be done in a safe manner, and it has to be done within the confines and the scope of the law."

Toad Crust
Activists with MoveOn call on Senator Ted Cruz to increase federal taxes on the wealthy and big corporations with a billboard truck outside Cruz’s Houston office on May 17, 2021, in Houston, Texas. Bob Levey/Getty Images for MoveOn

Khosla confirmed that interactions between demonstrators and police were calm. Organizers frequently make themselves vulnerable to arrest during actions as a strategy to draw attention to their campaigns, as was the case with the Sunrise Movement demonstrators.

"We want to show Biden how serious we are about this, it is unfortunate that this tactic is one that garners a lot of attention. We showed Biden we are willing to put our lives on the line," Khosla said.

Sunrise Movement's campaign, which will convene in Washington, D.C. on Monday, is part of a greater effort to urge Congress and President Joe Biden to pass the Civilian Climate Corps as part of the American Jobs Plan by the end of Summer 2021. Sponsored by Senator Edward Markey and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the CCC proposes a New Deal-style, five-year program that provides American jobs that respond to climate change and transition the U.S. to a "clean economy."

Khosla said Sunrise Movement chose Cruz's home as their stopping point to demand that Biden "stop negotiating with climate change deniers and insurrectionists." Cruz, who has said in the past that climate change isn't supported by science, has come out strongly against renewable energy, which he blamed this past February for statewide power failures during record-breaking freezing temperatures in the Lone Star state. The senator later came under fire for making a trip to Cancun with his family during the freezing temperature and energy crisis, which killed 111 Texans.

As weather-related emergencies increasingly cripple states like Texas, which in the last few years alone has been devastated by a hurricane, a cold snap, floods, and now dangerously high heat, lawmakers on the national and state level are confronted with a growing number of citizens displaced from their homes.

Others are impoverished by storm damage, loss of livelihood, environmental damage and harm to human health. Hurricane Harvey is estimated to have cost Texas alone about $125 billion in 2017, and major disruptions to the global financial system are expected to continue without significant intervention.

Cruz's office did not respond to Newsweek's requests for comment.