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Brown Sunrise members interrupt Nikki Haley presidential events, protest candidate’s climate policies

Brown chapter of environmental group calls for climate action on campus, nationwide

<p>Sunrise members held signs which read “Haley: Climate Criminal” and criticizing Haley’s relationship with the fossil fuel industry. </p><p>Courtesy of Sunrise Brown</p>

Sunrise members held signs which read “Haley: Climate Criminal” and criticizing Haley’s relationship with the fossil fuel industry.

Courtesy of Sunrise Brown

On Jan. 20, three members of Brown’s chapter of Sunrise — an environmental activist organization — staged a series of interruptions at the New Hampshire Republican primaries to protest the climate policies of Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley. 

The demonstrations, organized by the National Sunrise Movement, included a series of verbal interruptions during a speech by Haley and the use of anti-fossil fuels signage during a meet-and-greet photoshoot. Both events have since amassed social media attention, with a TikTok of the meet-and-greet accumulating roughly 150,000 likes.

A video of the event, posted on Instagram by the Independent, shows Sunrise members holding signs which read “Haley: Climate Criminal,” criticizing Haley’s relationship with the fossil fuel industry.

When asked about climate change in August’s presidential debate, Haley noted that she believes climate change is real and that Republicans care about “clean air (and) clean water.” Haley also stated that emissions from China and India are “what our problem is,” the Washington Post previously reported.

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Virginia He ’27, who arrived earlier that week, was joined by other Brown Sunrise members Caitlyn Carpenter ’26 and Trevor Wilkins ’26. 

On Jan. 22, the group staged an additional interruption against Haley at a meet-and-greet. At the event, Wilkins shook Haley’s hand, then revealed a sign that read “Fossil Fuels Own Haley.” 

Carpenter said that though the interruption itself was brief, social media made it “something much larger,” adding that it “speaks a lot to the strength of young people.”

The events were motivated by concerns about how the upcoming presidential election might affect climate policy, according to the three Brown Sunrise members.

It was important “to get the climate crisis and climate emergency back into the presidential race rhetoric,” Carpenter said. The future of “environmental justice … is fundamentally what's on the line.”

Sunrise members also staged similar interruptions at New Hampshire campaigns for former U.S. President Donald Trump.

“It's really important that we get candidates that actually care about environmental issues and won't prolong or even worsen the problem in some cases,” Wilkins said. 

Although Sunrise has been targeting Republican candidates, Brown Sunrise has not publicly endorsed a presidential candidate, according to Carpenter. “We have been very careful … to not take political stances as of right now,” she said. 

The National Sunrise Movement is organizing a “Climate Emergency Day of Action” on Feb. 19 to call on President Joe Biden to declare a climate emergency. 

“We can still be involved in electoral politics without actively supporting one candidate,” He said. Environmentalism “shouldn’t be a Democrats-versus-Republicans issue,” she added. 

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Brown Sunrise has also focused on climate policy change at the University level: He, Wilkins and Carpenter all highlighted Sunrise Brown’s DIRE campaign launched last March, which calls on the University to dissociate from the fossil fuel industry and increase its investment in the Providence community, The Herald previously reported.

“We need to change the status quo,” He said. “No progress in society has been made by just sitting around and doing nothing.” 

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Sophia Wotman

Sophia Wotman is a Senior Staff Writer covering the Affinity & Activism beat under University News. She is a sophomore from Long Island, New York studying Political Science and Music with an interest in women’s rights. She is a jazz trumpet player, and you’ll often find her performing on campus and around Providence.



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