On September 12, performance artist Reverent Billy Talen and his Stop Shopping Choir walked into a JP Morgan Chase asset management bank in Manhattan. Forty-five minutes later Bill and his musical director, Nehemiah Luckett, were arrested by the NYPD with charges of rioting, menacing, and disorderly conduct, and are now facing a year in prison. The bank’s manager, Robert Bongiorno, said he saw “the defendants, along with approximately eight other people, running about the bank while wearing frog masks” and thought the bank was being robbed. Reverend Billy wanted to clear up that his choir was not wearing masks. Those were toad-shaped hats over the choir’s heads—the Golden Headed Toad of Central America, to be exact, which was last sighted in the cloud forests of Costa Rica in 1989. Climate changes in the toad’s habitat are thought to have led to its extinction, and Chase is a leading investor in greenhouse gas-emitting industries. The bank lent or underwrote more than $8 billion toward coal extraction since 2005. Reverend Billy foresees aclimapocalypse, a doomsday sponsored by the likes of JP Morgan and other backers of fossil-fuels, which are igniting an uptick in heatwaves, droughts, rising oceans, and storms like Haiyan .
Reverent Billy Talen launched a petition drive demanding the charges against him and his colleague, Nehemiah Luckett, be dropped, gathering more than 10,000 endorsements. The Reverend wants us to take climate change seriously, lest the human race go the way of the Golden Headed Toad. But, in the meantime, he’s praying Chase and the DA’s office will learn to a take joke.