A Silver Spring mother made waves Monday by denouncing Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt to his face in the middle of a bustling D.C. restaurant.
Balancing her 2-year-old son on her hip, Kristin Mink walked up to Pruitt’s table in Teaism at Penn Quarter and urged him to resign for the sake of the next generation.
“We deserve to have somebody at the EPA who actually does protect our environment, someone who believes in climate change and takes it seriously, for the benefit of all of us, including our children,” Mink was recorded saying on a video she shared on Facebook. “So I would urge you to resign before your scandals push you out.”
Mink, a sixth-grade teacher at Sidwell Friends, told The Washington Post her husband pointed out the embattled EPA administrator sitting a few tables away from them at the eatery. She immediately knew she had to say something.
“There are so many red-alert-type laws being passed, legislation being passed, moves being made by the Trump administration right now,” Mink said in a Tuesday phone interview. “The environment is one that literally affects all of us. It affects the future of humanity. None of the other things matter if we can’t get the environment taken care of.”
So Mink jotted down a few talking points on a scrap of paper and headed over to the table, where Pruitt was sitting across from another man. Pruitt initially looked up at Mink and her son with a slight smile, but his demeanor quickly changed as she delivered her remarks.
Pruitt remained silent while Mink spoke, according to the cellphone video shot by Mink’s husband. The Post reported that Pruitt’s office says the EPA administrator thanked Mink after the recording stopped.
The roughly one-minute video posted on Facebook had more than 300,000 views as of about 2 p.m. Tuesday. In the post, Mink encourages people to support the Sierra Club’s online campaign aimed at pressuring senators to call for Pruitt’s resignation.
National news outlets quickly jumped on the story about her encounter with Pruitt, and Mink said she hopes the coverage inspires others to action.
“I would like for people to see the video and feel empowered to speak up, as well,” she said.
Pruitt has been dogged by scandals during his tenure as EPA administrator and is the subject of about 12 separate investigations. Among the accusations are claims that he ordered his aides to perform personal jobs for him and paid below-market rates to stay in a room in a lobbyist’s Capitol Hill condo.
Monday wasn’t the first time Mink, a lifelong Silver Spring resident, has spoken out. After learning in 2016 that a vandal had scrawled racist messages oustide a Silver Spring church, she led an effort to buy the congregation a new banner that read, “Silver Spring Loves and Welcomes Immigrants!” The Post covered the story at the time.
Mink said she also participated in last week’s protest at the Senate office building, where nearly 600 were arrested while demanding that lawmakers abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
Bethany Rodgers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.