Last week, the U.S. Open was interrupted by a climate protester who took a unique approach to raising awareness about the urgent issue of climate change. Sayak Mukhopadhyay, along with three other activists from Extinction Rebellion NYC, managed to halt the tennis match between Coco Gauff and Karolina Muchova for approximately 50 minutes. The protesters chanted phrases such as "No tennis on a dead planet" and "End fossil fuels" before Mukhopadhyay took his demonstration to the next level by gluing his bare feet to the floor of the Arthur Ashe stadium in Queens.
When asked about the interruption during a post-game press conference, Gauff expressed a mixed reaction. While she acknowledged that the protest was conducted peacefully, she admitted that she would have preferred it not to happen during her match. Gauff, a rising star in the tennis world at just 19 years old, emphasized the need for drastic action to preserve the future of the sport, stating that if measures aren't taken soon, tennis may no longer be playable by the time she retires.
Mukhopadhyay defended his extreme actions as a last resort, explaining that traditional methods used by the climate change movement, such as writing and lobbying for legislation or demonstrating and blockading banks, have proven to be ineffective in conveying the urgency of the climate crisis to the public. He believes that direct communication through protests at public institutions like museums and sporting arenas is a more impactful way to raise awareness.
Following their arrest, Mukhopadhyay and another protester, Gregory Schwedock, were charged with criminal trespass. The Extinction Rebellion NYC group has a series of climate actions planned for the week, including a naked bike ride to protest against fossil fuels and "mass meditations" at various locations, according to their website.
Extinction Rebellion, a global climate activist group, has been associated with past demonstrations involving famous artworks, spray-painting a Walmart heiress's yacht, and blockading the entrance to the Burning Man festival. The group aims to draw attention to the neglect of the climate and ecological breakdown by governments and corporations.
In a bizarre twist, around the same time as the U.S. Open incident, a naked animal rights activist disrupted the Coach fashion show at the New York Public Library's Main branch in Manhattan. The activist stormed onto the catwalk, adding another unexpected element to the city's eventful week of protests.
Meanwhile, Mukhopadhyay shared his personal experience with the New York Police Department (NYPD), claiming that he was taken to a psychiatric ward after his arrest. He expressed frustration with the NYPD's questioning, describing it as leading and stereotypical, suggesting that they viewed him as a "crazy, apocalyptic cult" member. Mukhopadhyay, who immigrated from India to White Plains, New York, 25 years ago, criticized President Biden and accused him of being the true "crazy person" for approving new oil and gas projects despite calls from international energy agencies to halt such developments.
Despite the disruption, Gauff ultimately won the match against Muchova in straight sets and advanced to the final, where she will face Aryna Sabalenka on Saturday. As the tournament continues, the incident serves as a reminder of the pressing need to address climate change and the increasingly creative methods activists are employing to bring attention to the issue.
themes: New York (state)