Here are the top five most disruptive climate protests of 2023

Climate activists in the U.S. and across the world increased the intensity and number of disruptive protests staged in public places as they repeatedly called for governments to phase out fossil fuels in an effort to combat global warming.

Protesters calling for climate action frequently blocked busy roads, interrupted sporting events and concerts, forced government officials to cut events short and vandalized public buildings, storefronts and famous artwork in museums. 

Many of the activists engaging in those activities have received funding from groups like the California-based Climate Emergency Fund (CEF) which has, in turn, raised millions of dollars.

“Climate Emergency Fund is proud to support some of the boldest, bravest climate activists in the world who are not just fighting but are winning,” Margaret Klein Salamon, CEF’s executive director, told Fox News Digital last month. “Throughout history, organized, passionate and dedicated people have awakened the public’s conscience to injustice and achieved change that was once considered impossible.”

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“That’s why the Climate Emergency Fund supports activist organizations that engage in nonviolent protest and civil disobedience worldwide,” she said. “We are experiencing global catastrophic climate events, and they are accelerating – from the months-long summer heat waves in Europe to record-low levels of Antarctic sea ice to ocean temperatures that topped 100 degrees off the coast of Florida.”

Here are five of the most disruptive protests staged by activists in 2023.

1. Music festival protest dispersed at gunpoint

In August, police officers in northern Nevada were filmed dispersing a group of climate protesters who were causing a massive traffic jam on the road leading into the Burning Man festival. The chaotic scene escalated when an officer drew his gun in an effort to get the activists to move away from the road.

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“We are not violent! Please … we have no weapons at all, we are environmental protesters!” a woman yelled as another activist was handcuffed.

The activists staged their protest in front of a sign that said “Burners of the World Unite.” Some members of the protest chained themselves to a trailer parked on the road.

“People are getting hurt because of climate change. Look at what happened in Maui, look at what is happening right now in Canada,” an activist told frustrated bystanders.

“Get out of the way!” a woman responded. 

“We got to get through, help us, we got s— to do!” a man in a cowboy hat added as he tried to dismantle the trailer. 

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2. U.S. government officials face string of protests: ‘Close the f—ing door’

President Biden, multiple cabinet officials and other senior government officials all attended events that climate protesters attempted to — and in some cases successfully did — shut down.

In September, Biden was heckled during a speech in Arizona honoring the late Sen. John McCain. The president told the protesters to “shush up” and added “democracy’s never easy as we just demonstrated.”

Weeks later, in October, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was chased from an event in Baltimore after more than a dozen activists stormed the stage where he was speaking, yelling slogans.

“Your DOT just approved the Seaport Oil Terminal, a project that will have 80 coal plants’ worth of greenhouse gas emissions and will worsen air quality in areas that already live in cancer clusters,” one of the activists told Buttigieg on stage. 

“This is about environmental racism, and it’s about climate impacts this project will have. Will you commit to stopping these projects?”

“I get the urgency. By the time my kids are old enough to ask, we’re going to have a really good answer to get out of climate change,” he responded.

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Activists also disrupted events earlier in the year hosting Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and senior White House climate adviser John Podesta. And Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has been interrupted on multiple occasions by protests.

“Close the f‑‑‑ing door,” Powell appeared to mutter during a November protest in which activists stormed a room where he was delivering remarks.

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3. U.S. Open semifinal disrupted, delayed

Protesters in September forced the U.S. Open semifinals match in New York between Coco Gauff and Karolina Muchova to be briefly delayed. The activists caused a disturbance from their seats by chanting for policies that “end fossil fuels.”

One of the protesters even glued himself to the ground.

New York Police Department officers soon responded and forcibly removed the activists. However, the match delay lasted about 49 minutes.

New York Police officers remove an environmental protester who had glued his feet to the floor, delaying a match between Coco Gauff and Karolina Muchová during the U.S. Open in New York City Sept. 7, 2023. (Corey Sipkin/AFP via Getty Images)

“Following the first game of the second set in the Gauff-Muchová match, play was halted due to a protest conducted by four spectators,” the United States Tennis Association said in a statement.

“Three of the four protesters were escorted out of the stadium without further incident. The fourth protester affixed their bare feet to the floor of the seating bowl. Due to the nature of this action, NYPD and medical personnel were needed in order to safely remove this individual from the stadium,” the statement added. “The four protesters were taken into NYPD custody.”

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4. Civil War memorial honoring African American soldiers defaced

In November, a climate activist with a far-left advocacy group smeared red paint on an exhibit honoring an African American regiment that fought during the Civil War during a protest at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

The member of Declare Emergency, a group that calls for an immediate end to fossil fuel production and reliance, vandalized a wall in the West Building gallery of the Washington, D.C., museum that houses the Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial, officials told Fox News Digital. Using red paint, the activist wrote, “Honor Them,” and explained President Biden could honor Black Civil War soldiers by declaring a climate emergency.

“We should honor them by carrying on their work,” the activist said in a statement. “So, I say, ‘Joe Biden must declare a climate emergency’ in their honor because the great majority of the people who are being harmed by the climate emergency now and who will be harmed in the future are people who look like the soldiers of the Massachusetts 54th.”

“The 54th fought in the Civil War. In the war being waged on humanity now the effects are coming down first and hardest on the most vulnerable people,” he added. “In this undeclared war, the weapon is greenhouse gasses. Children dying of dehydration and starvation in parts of Africa today are being killed by carbon put into the earth’s atmosphere by oil and gas executives in order to make money.”

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The activist was removed from the gallery by law enforcement minutes after he vandalized the exhibit, according to video of the protest captured by independent filmmaker Ford Fischer of the independent media outlet News2Share. A spokesperson for the National Gallery of Art later confirmed the protester was arrested and that an investigation into the matter was underway. 

A climate activist with the group Declare Emergency vandalized a Civil War memorial at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

A climate activist with Declare Emergency vandalized a Civil War memorial at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., in November. (Ford Fischer/News2Share/X Screenshot | Declare Emergency)

5. Washington, D.C., drivers become irate as their commute is blocked 

And one of many roadway disruptions quickly became heated in late August in Washington, D.C., when commuters began screaming at activists, according to video captured by News2Share.

“I want to go to work! I want to go to work!” one of the commuters screamed.

“You don’t give a f—!” another commuter added.

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“Get the f— out of here! We have to go to f—ing work! We’ve got kids to feed!” a third person yelled.

The protesters, who were calling for President Biden to declare a “climate emergency,” were eventually taken away by police officers who handcuffed them.

Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos and Greg Norman contributed to this report.

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