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Massachusetts climate activists mooned senators, disrupted Massachusetts Senate



Climate activists in the Senate Chamber's public gallery moon senators and staff during Thursday's tax relief session, with "stop passing gas" written on their nude behinds. [Sam Doran/SHNS]

By Michael P. Norton and Sam Doran

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, JUNE 15, 2023…..Thong-wearing climate activists intent on stopping fossil fuel infrastructure mooned senators and disrupted Thursday’s tax relief debate in the Massachusetts Senate. About an hour later, they were arrested and escorted out of the chamber.

About eight local members of the international group Extinction Rebellion started shouting from the chamber’s public gallery just after 1 p.m. while Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr was speaking on the Senate floor below about the $590 million tax relief bill.

Amid the disruption, Senate President Pro Tempore William Brownsberger banged the gavel at about 1:05 p.m. At that point, someone in the gallery said to the senators and staff gathered in the chamber, “We are going to be mooning you … You can look away if you wish.”

The protesters in the balcony above turned around to reveal the words “stop passing gas” written on their nude behinds.

More chants ensued, including “You’re a senator, not an ass, why are you still passing gas?” and “Butts out for climate.”

By 1:10 p.m., Brownsberger declared a recess and senators and staff filed out of the chamber and packed into the Senate lobby.

Shortly afterwards, Brownsberger went up to the fourth floor and talked with the protesters in the gallery, in an unsuccessful bid to convince them to leave the gallery so that the session could resume.

At around 1:50 p.m., Senate President Karen Spilka gaveled the session back to order and told the protesters still in the gallery with the police that they could stay and observe the proceedings if they would do so without disruption. With the protesters chanting over her, she then instructed the Senate court officers to “clear and close the gallery.”

Just after 2 p.m., the protesters were escorted out of the fourth floor gallery by police. As they were walked away chanting “no new fossil fuels,” a State Police official confirmed that they were being placed under arrest.

By 2:25 p.m., senators had returned to the chamber and resumed their debate on the tax relief bill.

Massachusetts has an assortment of laws in place requiring the state to gradually move away from fossil fuels and reduce carbon emissions, but climate activists have consistently pressed policymakers to expedite the shift toward clean energy.

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