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Two of the protesters who held up a semi-final match at the US Open on Thursday night as they protested against fossil fuels were hit with criminal charges.
Gregory Schwedock, 35, of New York City, and Sayak Mukhopadhyay, 50, of White Plains, New York, were charged with criminal trespass after the two were involved in an environmental protest that led to a 50 minute game delay at the US Open. Mukhopadhyay also faces a disorderly conduct charge.
During the second set of the match between American Coco Gauff, 19, and Karolína Muchová, 27, from the Czech Republic, Schwedock, Mukhopadhya, and a woman stood up and started yelling “end fossil fuels.”
The New York City Police told Forbes that they responded to reports of attendants at the match acting “disorderly” and that one “had apparently glued his feet to the floor.”
“Personnel from the Emergency Service Unit responded and were able to safely free the male and take him into custody,” police said.
One of the protesters later claimed that the protest was raising awareness for an existential threat.
“There is no tennis on a dead planet. There is no art on a dead planet, everything that we take for granted as our way of life will cease to exist,” Mukhopadhyay told NBC.
Gauff had won the first set and was leading in the second 1-0 when play was halted; she ultimately won the match 6-4, 7-5. The crowd booed the protesters, and yelled at them as they were taken away by the New York City Police Department. “You suck!” and “F*** you!” people yelled.
While Gauff appeared frustrated during the match with the delay, she later said that she couldn’t be “upset” with the protesters
“I always speak about preaching about what you feel and what you believe in,” Gauff said. “It was done in a peaceful way, so I can’t get too mad at it. Obviously I don’t want it to happen when I’m winning, up 6-4, 1-0, and I wanted the momentum to keep going. But hey, if that’s what they felt they needed to do to get their voices heard, I can’t really get upset at it.”
Extinction Rebellion, a radical environmentalist group, said that it was behind the protest.
“Today’s action highlights the neglect of the climate and ecological breakdown by governments and corporations,” the group said. “The group emphasizes that the present socioeconomic system can’t protect people from the crises to come because its very structure creates these crises and then ignores them.”