UPDATES: NYC Students Go On Strike To Demand Action On Climate Crisis
Thousands of New York City’s young people are once again taking to the streets to demand meaningful action in the face of a global climate crisis poised to devastate the world for younger generations.
The event is part of a worldwide climate strike, with similar demonstrations planned across 150 countries; already, millions of climate strikers have swarmed the streets of Australia, India, Germany, the U.K and elsewhere.
Students in NYC have been given permission to take the day off school, and are set to march en masse from Foley Square to Battery Park beginning at noon. They’ll be joined by 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg and the growing group of students who have been staging weekly sit-ins outside the United Nations, as well as several of the young plaintiffs behind a landmark lawsuit accusing the U.S. government of failing to protect them from climate change.
We’ll have reporters and photographers out in the field throughout the day, so check back regularly for updates.
UPDATE 11:30 a.m.: Student activists are currently gathering inside Foley Square, preparing their signs and discussing the message they intend to send to politicians in power.
“We know that there are back-end deals, we know that people have been prioritizing capitalism and private industries over our actual well-being,” said Olivia Payne, a 17-year-old senior at Beacon High School in Manhattan, “so it’s a message to them that we’re watching them and we, even though we’re not of voting age yet, we will be soon.”
Also on hand: Painted signs and Sustaina Clause:
UPDATE 12:30 p.m.: Thousands of people are now pouring into Foley Square for a pre-march rally. Among the speakers is Marisol Rivera, a 13-year-old climate activist whose home was destroyed during Hurricane Sandy.
“I know there are people around the world who are suffering and are going through what I went through seven years ago,” said Rivera. “We can’t leave people suffering, we all deserve to live free of fossil fuels and have a better life. This can happen to the people we know and care for. We all need to fight before it’s too late.”
Jordan Black, a 16-year-old student from Garden City High School in Long Island, told Gothamist that she’d attended the march because “we have to reverse what our parents did.”
“They screwed it up by letting all these things slide that they thought would help us in the future, but really it’s not helping us in the future at all,” she added. “We’re suffering, our earth is suffering, and we need to do something about it.”
UPDATE 12:45 p.m.: And they’re off. Hordes of protesters are now marching toward Battery Park, chanting “we are unstoppable/a better world is possible.” Reporters on scene say the dense crowd has now expanded well beyond Foley Square. Several outlets are reporting that the cumulative global actions may already qualify as the largest environmental protest in history.
“I think it shows that people actually care and that they’re willing to make a change if someone can just help them,” said Vivian Hailey, a 17-year-old student at Hudson High School of Learning Technologies. “We’re not in school for a very good reason—this is probably going to be way more impactful on our lives than school would ever be.”
UPDATE 1:10 p.m.: Over in Brooklyn, some activists are holding their own Frontline Climate Strike, focused on low-income communities who stand to be most impacted by environmental injustice and the climate crisis. The march is separate from the action happening in downtown Manhattan.
“We’re not joining up with the UN Climate Strike because often the face of green environmentalism is very white, and we’re not included in the solutions,” said Chelsea Turner, an organizer with Uprose. “We’re not at the table when solutions are being made for our communities, so we built our own table.”
The group will be staging a direct action for Puerto Rico and the Global South this afternoon.
UPDATE 2:15 p.m.: Marchers are filtering into Battery Park now, where another rally is expected to kick off at 3 p.m., concluding with a speech from Greta Thunberg slated for 5 p.m. The mood is ebullient, with young people leading throngs of protesters in chants and dancing.
“We believe that age doesn’t matter,” Isabella Gironza, 12, told Gothamist. “Sure, we can’t vote, but we can fight for what we believe in.”
Also in attendance is Mayor Bill de Blasio, who earlier this morning suspended his presidential campaign. He did not drive to the march.
Additional reporting by Gwynne Hogan, Jessica Gould, and Emily Suzanne Lever.