Jane Fonda's 'Fire Drill Fridays': A Timeline of Her Climate Change Protests and Multiple Arrests
By Meredith B. Kile
JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images
If it's Friday, you're probably reading a headline about Jane Fonda protesting climate change in Washington, D.C. -- and that's exactly what the82-year-old actress wants.
"There is a collective crisis, requires collective action," the Hollywood star told CNN's Christiane Amanpour back in October. "And so I decided to use my celebrity to try to raise the sense of urgency, and I moved to Washington, and I'm going to get arrested every Friday."
The protests, which Fonda refers to as "Fire Drill Friday," are to show support for a Green New Deal and bring awareness to the ways in which climate change affects other parts of human life, such as women's rights, access to drinking water and global militarism.
As if it wasn't enough that the actress -- who first became a controversial political figure for her activism during the Vietnam War, which earned her the nickname "Hanoi Jane" -- continues to get arrested in the name of raising awareness, she's also making bigger headlines by bringing along her famous friends to join in the demonstrations and don her now-signature red.
This video is unavailable because we were unable to load a message from our sponsors.
If you are using ad-blocking software, please disable it and reload the page.
Watch the Tribeca Film Festival Teaser for ‘This Is Climate Change’ (Exclusive)
"The team and I decided at the very beginning that we should all try to wear something red. I racked my brain -- I didn't have anything red. I don't usually wear red. So I decided that the last article of clothing that I will ever buy is a red coat. Sure enough, I found one at Neiman Marcus on sale for $500. And that's the coat," Fonda told THR last fall, explaining that she was following young activist Greta Thunberg -- who inspired Fonda to protest in the first place -- in espousing a more minimalist way of life. "I'm speaking out against consumerism and so I have to walk the talk. And so that's the last thing I'll buy."
See below for an updated timeline of Fonda's arrests -- and the famous friends who have joined her in the important cause.
Jan. 10, 2020
Fresh off his Golden Globes win for Joker-- and an acceptance speech in which he addressed climate change by lauding the Globes' plant-based meal and criticizing fellow stars for taking "private jets to Palm Springs for the awards" -- Joaquin Phoenix was the latest A-lister to join Fonda's cause, protesting on the steps of the Capitol building. He and West Wing Star Martin Sheen were later arrested by D.C. police as part of the protest.
"Something that I think isn't oftentimes talked about in the environmental movement or in the conversation about climate change is that the meat and dairy industry is the third leading cause of climate change," Phoenix said while speaking to the crowd ahead of his arrest. "I struggle so much with what I can do [to combat climate change] at times. There are things that I can't avoid -- I flew a plane out here today, or last night rather. But one thing that I can do is change my eating habits."
Joaquin Phoenix: "I struggle so much with what I can do [to combat climate change] at times. There are things that I can't avoid -- I flew a plane out here today, or last night rather. But one thing that I can do is change my eating habits." pic.twitter.com/RaZILYq0La
For her first protest of the new year, Fonda was joined once again by Grace and Frankie co-star Sam Waterston, who was arrested for the second time, as well as Young Sheldon star Iain Armitage, who has attended several of the demonstrations and took the stage to speak at the podium after wishing Thunberg -- who turned 17 on Friday -- a happy birthday.
"The young climate strikers have been very, very instrumental in making this shift to where we’re talking about fossil fuels," Fonda praised in a social media video. "We should be very grateful to the young people and the students who are sacrificing so much to call our attention to it. You know, you can’t solve a problem if you’re not naming it. And so today we want to name it in a big way. Because to slow down and stop the climate crisis, we must stop burning fossil fuels."
Lily Tomlin joined her Grace and Frankie co-star on the southeast lawn of the Capitol, where she fought for the preservation of the Earth's forests.
"We have got to stop hugging and start saving the trees," Tomlin declared. "These corporations are making oodles of money on the front end, oodles of money on the back end."
While Tomlin was arrested, Fonda was not this time.
Dec. 20, 2019
For the protest one day before her 82nd birthday, Fonda was joined by another longtime advocate, Gloria Steinem, and a large group of fellow protesters, including actress Casey Wilson, who was arrested while demonstrating in the Capitol rotunda.
"Our house is on fire. We must act now to save the planet from irreversible catastrophe and demand our political leaders take action to address this climate emergency," Wilson wrote on Instagram following her arrest. "I joined @janefonda @gloriasteinem (see 👉) for #firedrillfriday. It was powerful beyond belief. And I want to acknowledge my privilege, which allows me to be arrested with minimal consequence. Vote, speak, act like our future depends on it - because it does. (And speaking of Depends, I wore them in jail.) @greenpeace."
Friday the 13th couldn't scare Fonda away. She and the Fire Drill Friday team had umbrellas at the ready for their latest rain-soaked protest, where they were joined by activist pals like environmentalist Winona LaDuke and actress Sally Field, who sent a message on social media before she was arrested by Capitol Police.
"Get out of your comfort zone, folks," Field said. "Time to get out and scream loud, 'cause if you don't do it, nobody else will."
As the weather on the East Coast turns toward winter, Fonda's fire has only kept burning. On Dec. 6, the actress was joined by Kyra Sedgwick, Maura Tierney, and Orange is the New Black Star Taylor Schilling as the Fire Drill Friday protest blocked the entrance of BlackRock, a global investment management corporation which funds oil drilling in the Arctic, coal power plants in India and palm oil plantations in Liberia, "fueling climate chaos around the world."
"What an incredible action today- we stormed Blackrock financial demanding they #divest Grateful to #firedrillfriday @janefonda," Sedgwick posted to her Instagram after the demonstration.
Following in wife June Diane Raphael's footsteps, actor and comedian Paul Scheer was arrested during Fonda's protest on Black Friday, after demonstrating alongside the actress and Young Sheldon star Iain Armitage.
"Still blown away by my experience @firedrillfridays from the climate change rally at the Capitol Bldg to protesting in the streets with an 11yr @iain (Little Sheldon/Big Little Lies) but most importantly meeting the amazing people who are working on solutions and calling attention to the effects of Climate Change," Scheer wrote on Instagram, following his release. "It’s all because of the outrageous tenacity and passion of @janefonda who greeted each one of us post arrest and incarceration."
Fonda had a major group of celebs out for a rainy day protest on Nov. 22. She was joined by Diane Lane, The Good Place star Manny Jacinto, and actresses Piper Perabo and Amber Valletta, among others, for the Fire Drill Friday protest, which focused on clean water initiatives. Lane, Perabo and Valletta were among those arrested outside the D.C. Capitol building, and shared their stories on social media.
Actor and activist @MannyJacinto drawing attention to Filipinos at the front lines of climate emergency. He also reminds the crowd of the critical need for policy reform!
"I was just arrested at @FireDrillFriday because we are in a climate emergency, and we need our government to protect our land, air, and water from big oil's pollution," Perabo tweeted. "Honored to stand with @Janefonda and so many inspiring youth climate activists."
"We must act now to save the planet from irreversible catastrophe and protect communities who are already impacted by the climate crisis," Valletta wrote. "Join @JaneFonda each week for @FireDrillFriday to ring the alarm on the climate emergency. http://FireDrillFridays.com #FireDrillFriday."
Fonda avoided arrest again on Nov. 15 -- as her group staged a sit-in protest in the Senate rotunda -- but she brought along her on-screen daughters, Grace and Frankie co-stars June Diane Raphael and Brooklyn Decker, as well as members of the show's writing staff for the demonstration.
Raphael was arrested at the protest, and later shared a photo to Instagram, writing, "I was arrested for the first time today while demanding a Green New Deal, an end to fossil fuel extraction and the centering of justice in all climate conversations. Thank you to @janefonda for bringing me and to @firedrillfriday for an incredible education and for my dear friend @brooklyndecker for joining me."
Earlier in the week, Fonda spoke with ET at the Glamour Women of the Year Awards in New York City on Monday, where she accepted an award on behalf of Thunberg, the Swedish student and activist whose protests inspired the actress to action.
"It doesn't matter about the arrest," she said of her Fire Drill Friday protests. "What matters is getting the word out to people and engaging in civil disobedience, because this is what's going to be more and more necessary. Everybody's gotta get used to this new normal, getting beyond our comfort zone and not acting as business as usual anymore. Risking a little bit more, because there's so much at stake. "
Nov. 8, 2019
Fonda was not arrested on Nov. 8 -- likely to avoid the longer jail stay, as she explained to THRthe week prior -- however, she was joined at the protest by ice cream icons and longtime environmental activists Ben Cohen and Jerry Epstein.
Nov. 1, 2019
The Nov. 1 arrest -- for which Fonda was joined by pals Catherine Keener and Rosanna Arquette -- was the first time the actress had to spend the night in jail. She admitted in the interview with THR that, while she'll continue to protest, she'll have to stop getting arrested before it starts to interfere with her work schedule.
"After the third arrest, they gave me a court date in November. And because I was arrested again before my court date, that's when they said, 'Well, you're going to have to spend the night in jail,'" Fonda explained. "I have to be careful not to get to a point where they're going to keep me for 90 days, because I have to begin preparing for Grace and Frankie in January. So I'm not going to get arrested every time. They give you three warnings and so I will step away at the third warning."
Oct. 25, 2019
Fonda said she recruited Ted Danson specifically for the Oct. 25 protest, which was focused on oceans, for which The Good Place star has long been an advocate. Both stars were arrested at the protest, Fonda in her now-iconic red trench coat.
"The team and I decided at the very beginning that we should all try to wear something red. I racked my brain -- I didn't have anything red. I don't usually wear red. So I decided that the last article of clothing that I will ever buy is a red coat. Sure enough, I found one at Neiman Marcus on sale for $500. And that's the coat," she told THR, explaining that she was following young activist Greta Thunberg in espousing a more minimalist way of life. "I'm speaking out against consumerism and so I have to walk the talk. And so that's the last thing I'll buy."
Oct. 18, 2019
The actress was joined by her Grace and Frankie co-star, Sam Waterston, for her second protest arrest. Fonda said her activism in the 1970s taught her "the importance of not being alone in your activism, to be part of a movement because then no matter what is thrown your way, you have the cushion of your co-activists in the movement around you."
Oct. 11, 2019
The first of the "Fire Drill Friday" protests where the actress was arrested. Fonda and 16 others were charged with unlawfully demonstrating on the East Front of the Capitol building.