PARAMUS, N.J. — Carrying signs and chanting, some two dozen anti-fracking activists left Paramus Sunday morning to join 10,000 others at the March for a Clean Energy Revolution in Philadelphia .
They are members and friends of Food and Water Watch New Jersey, 350NJ, GreenFaith, the Coalition to Ban Unsafe Oil Trains, and labor groups.
The Bergen contingent joined those from dozens of other buses from this region at Philadephia City Hall at noon on the eve of the Democratic National Convention (DNC).
The Ramapough Lunaape Nation also sent a contingent from Ringwood. Turtle Clan Chief Vincent Mann of West Milford delivered an impassioned speech to a Native American crowd from all over the country.
“The Ramapough are the ones who stood up in front of the pipelines that have come to town,” he said, to cheers and the beating of drums. “We’re standing up against Pilgrim Pipeline. We’re standing up against PennEast.
“The little tribe of Ramapough is 39 miles out of New York City. Nobody has ever heard of us,” he added. “Well, I’ve got some news for you: we’re here.”
Convened by Americans Against Fracking, the gathering was endorsed by more than 900 environmental, health, labor, political, faith, justice, indigenous, and student organizations in every state, according to Food and Water Watch.
Rosemary Dreger Carey of River Vale, an organizer of the Paramus bus, said New Jerseyans understand the urgency of climate change and refuse to continue to serve as “the sacrifice zone” for the fracking industry.
The rally expresses anger at the Democratic Party for not including a fracking ban in its official platform, according to a statement by local grassroots groups.
The local protesters are drawing attention to how the issue hits home.
They demand not only a fracking ban but an immediate stop to creating fracking infrastructure, including oil and gas pipelines such as the Pilgrim Pipeline proposed to cut through the New Jersey Highlands, including parts of Northwest Bergen County.
The Bergen groups also oppose freight trains carrying explosive Bakken crude oil through communities in the eastern part of the county.
The Coalition to Ban Unsafe Oil Trains started with six people in August 2014, according to Paula Rogovin of Teaneck, its cofounder.
“Now we’re part of a huge movement,” she said, calling for a rapid transition to clean, renewable energy. “We want to be heard by our elected officials and candidates. It’s time for the DNC to take a stand and put this in their program.”