United States Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg came to The Baltimore Banner’s iMPACT Maryland conference last week to share innovative ideas with a crowd of local thought leaders. But his interview was stopped by climate protesters who were escorted off of the premise.
A video of the interrupted talk shows members of the Climate Defiance group rising of out their seats and marching toward Buttigieg on the stage as he answers a question about what it’s like to be in a position to award billions of dollars for infrastructure projects.
“I pinch myself all the time that my colleagues and I get to work on these things, because there has not been this level of funding for transportation in America in 50 years,” Buttigieg says about 11 minutes into the video. That’s when protesters began chanting “Stop Petro Pete” and shouting other slogans throughout the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall.
The video shows Buttigieg and Banner reporter Pamela Woodattempting to regain order by addressing concerns from Trevor Carroll, of the organization Better Brazoria.
He said the protesters want the Department of Transportation to reject permits for the Sea Port 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,” Carroll said. “This is about environmental racism, and it’s about the climate impacts this project will have.”
Security officers tried unsuccessfully to clear the stage and eventually asked the audience to leave the room, while simultaneously fending off the youth-led group so Buttigieg could exit the stage.
Singing and chanting continued as the auditorium’s lights dimmed and the room cleared. Thirty minutes later, protestors started leaving after Baltimore Police arrived to remove them. Pushing and shoving were exchanged between protestors and police, the video shows.
Buttigieg and Wood returned to the stage to discuss the oil terminal project, the issue of climate change and what President Joe Biden’s administration has done to address it.