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Cambridge City Council Passes Resolution Supporting Harvard-Yale Divestment Protesters

Forty-two protesters were arrested at the demonstration during the Harvard-Yale game Saturday. Hundreds of people participated in the protest, which called on Harvard and Yale to divest their endowments from fossil fuels and Puerto Rican debt.
Forty-two protesters were arrested at the demonstration during the Harvard-Yale game Saturday. Hundreds of people participated in the protest, which called on Harvard and Yale to divest their endowments from fossil fuels and Puerto Rican debt. By Timothy R. O'Meara
By Declan J. Knieriem and Katelyn X. Li, Crimson Staff Writers

The Cambridge City Council passed a resolution Monday evening in support of Harvard and Yale students arrested during a divestment protest at this weekend’s 136th edition of The Game.

The resolution — supported by all eight councilors in attendance — praised the protesters for “bravely taking a stand,” and called for both Harvard and Yale to “ensure” that all charges are dropped against the protesters. Councilors also offered solidarity with the protesters and said they stand with their demands.

“The activists are right to say that #NobodyWins until the universities fully disclose, divest, and reinvest their holdings in the fossil fuel industry and in Puerto Rican debt, putting an end to business as usual and taking meaningful action towards building a more just and stable future,” the resolution says.

Hundreds of spectators ran onto the field during halftime at The Game on Saturday, delaying play for more than half an hour. The protesters — led by both Fossil Free Yale and Divest Harvard — called for their respective universities to divest from fossil fuel industries and to cancel their holdings in Puerto Rican debt.

New Haven and Yale police eventually surrounded the protesters and escorted several students off the field, while officials called on the activists to return to their seats out of courtesy to the players. Following the protest, 42 students were charged with misdemeanor summonses for disorderly conduct.

Harvard spokesperson Jonathan L. Swain declined to comment on the council’s resolution in an email Monday evening. Yale spokesperson Karen N. Peart did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Swain has previously reiterated the University’s position that it does not see divestment as the best means to address climate change issues.

“The University’s position, as it has stated previously, is that it should not use the endowment to achieve political ends, or particular policy ends,” Swain previously wrote.

The Yale University Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday evening.

Councilor Quinton Y. Zondervan — who submitted the resolution along with Vice Mayor Jan Devereux – said the council had been in contact with Fossil Free Yale and other protesters arrested during The Game.

Zondervan also tweeted in support of GoFundMe campaign, organized by Fossil Free Yale, which will cover legal fees for those arrested. As of Monday evening, the fundraiser had garnered nearly $13,000 of its $20,000 goal.

“I hope you will support me on this resolution and support these protesters for their brave actions to bring attention to the climate crisis, and the importance of diverting from fossil fuels,” Zondervan said at Monday’s council meeting.

The Cambridge City Council voted in April to endorse Divest Harvard’s demands and joined the group in calling for the University to “show leadership on climate action” by divesting its endowment from fossil fuels. The resolution coincided with Divest Harvard’s Heat Week, which included a rally attended by Mayor Marc C. McGovern.

Divest Harvard and Fossil Free Yale did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Divest Harvard took to Twitter Monday evening immediately following the resolution’s passage to thank the councilors for their support.

“Huge thank you to Cambridge council member [Zondervan] and vice mayor [Devereux] for supporting our members who were arrested during the Harvard-Yale game this Saturday,” the group tweeted.

Fossil Free Yale also wrote on Twitter that it appreciated the council’s resolution.

“Cambridge City Council resolution expresses ‘complete and unwavering solidarity’ with us and calls for all charges to be dropped,” the tweet reads. “#NobodyWins when you profit off of climate chaos.”

— Declan J. Knieriem can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @DeclanKnieriem.

— Katelyn X. Li can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @katelynxli.

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