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Protesters prepare for Congressional Baseball Game as Dems seek redemption

Justin Papp, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON — As climate protesters vow to blockade and shut down the Congressional Baseball Game on Wednesday night, at least one lawmaker said he wasn’t worried.

Rep. Roger Williams coached the Republican team to victory last year and is hoping for a repeat. Asked whether the protest was on his radar, the Texan said, “It’s on the stupid radar. I mean, why would an environmentalist not like a baseball game? Baseball is played on grass and dirt. What’s wrong with that?”

The annual game, which raises money for local charities, pits Republican and Democratic members of Congress against one another at Nationals Park.

“The Congressional Baseball Game is a useful symbolic target,” said Evan Drukker-Schardl, an organizer with a group called Climate Defiance, which formed in 2023 and wants to end government support for fossil fuels. “Congress is literally playing games while subsidizing the fossil fuel engine industry.”

Climate Defiance has been planning the action for months, announcing in April, “We will shut it down.” Drukker-Schardl said he expects hundreds of protesters to attend, although he wouldn’t elaborate on what exactly they would do. It’s the same group, composed largely of college students and recent graduates, that interrupted the Congressional Women’s Softball Game last year for more than 10 minutes, to the annoyance of players and commentators.

“It’s a tight-knit club in Washington, and the people left out are all of us who are facing global catastrophe,” Drukker-Schardl said. “It’s unconscionable that most members of Congress are focused more on enriching their corporate lobbyist friends than they are on saving us from rising sea levels and rising temperatures and cataclysmic storms.”

 

A different collection of activists targeted the baseball game in 2022, with some unfurling banners and dropping leaflets in the stands. A few were arrested outside Nationals Park as they tried to stop fans from entering.

A Capitol Police spokesperson said the department is aware of the protest planned for this year and is partnering with the Metropolitan Police and Washington Nationals security for the game. The summer tradition has drawn more scrutiny since 2017, when a gunman opened fire on Republicans who had gathered for an early morning practice.

Ryan Thompson, president of Congressional Sports for Charity, said he’s confident the game will go off without a hitch and more than $2 million has already been raised, up from around $1.8 million last year. The foundation provides grants to local groups that serve families and children, such as the Washington Literacy Center.

“We live in a free country, and they have every right to exercise their First Amendment rights,” Thompson said of the protesters. “But the Capitol Police and federal law enforcement are definitely tracking any threats to the game. It’s a high-profile event … so they’re hyper-diligent.”

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