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IU professor arrested in Washington, D.C. at climate change protest



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Clinical associate professor Marc Lame sits at his desk Jan. 22 in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs. Lame is a 20-year faculty member and holds degrees in agriculture, entomology, and public administration. Alex Deryn

IU clinical associate professor Marc Lame was arrested for civil disobedience Jan. 10 at a climate change protest in Washington.

"Committing an act of civil disobedience, I do not believe, warrants discipline from the university," Lame said. "If it does, bring it on."

Lame said he stayed with several environmentally active IU alumni, who work in the government. He said he went to Washington to be arrested.

The climate protest was part of the Fire Drill Friday movement started by climate strike activist Greta Thunberg in Sweden. Protesters gather on Fridays at Capitol Hill to pressure political leaders to address climate change. These protests came to the U.S. in September 2019.

Lame said he was first inspired to join the Fire Drill Friday protests while watching a TV interview with actress Jane Fonda. Lame said Fonda spoke about how she had been arrested for civil disobedience at one of the earlier Fire Drill Friday protests, and he said he was inspired to join.

“At my age and stage, with my strong beliefs in regard to global climate change, I felt like I needed to do something,” he said. “It's too easy to sit back.”

Lame worked at the University of Arizona for 10 years as an extension integrated pest management specialist and was an administrator for the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. Lame was recognized for his work by the United States Environmental Protection Agency in 2006.

Now, he teaches classes about environmental management in the Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs. Lame said one of the reasons he went to the Capitol to get arrested was to educate his students on civil disobedience. 

“I wanted them to be able to ask questions about civil disobedience from someone who’s been arrested, and see me as an example as someone who has strong feelings to where I would commit an act of civil disobedience,” Lame said. “I tell my students, civil disobedience is when you realize that talking isn’t cutting it, and you start acting,” Lame said.

Advocates for Science at IU and Concerned Scientists are two Bloomington groups supporting action against climate change. They often work together to advocate for science-based policies, said Deidra Miniard, a third-year doctoral student in environmental science. Miniard is one of the student leaders in ASIU.

“The group is for people who are concerned about the gradual loss of science in public policy,” said Michael Hamburger, a founding member of the Concerned Scientists group and professor in the IU Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Neither group has been involved in formal protest activities.Groups in Bloomington that actively participate in and organize protests are the Bloomington branch of Sunrise Movement and Golden Bicycle.

“It's unfortunate Marc Lame was arrested," Miniard said. "I can appreciate that climate change is an issue he cares about so deeply that he would risk arrest.”

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