Young people are literally fighting for their lives when it comes to climate change. And in downtown Portland today, they inspired tens of thousands of people to show up and fight with them.
Portland’s contribution to the global Climate Strike felt like not just a powerful event, but the start of a larger movement that will launch even more teenage organizers into many facets of climate-related politics, policies, and projects. While doom and depression often accompany this topic, today’s event had just as much celebration as seriousness. There was music and dancing before the rally at Terry Schrunk Plaza and plenty of smiles across many faces of the high-schoolers in attendance (not to mention tons of clever signs).
As the speeches started, the smiles turned to shouts, songs, and stories of how a warming planet is already having devastating impacts on many people. The rally had a strong focus on indigenous people and islanders: The former who’ve already lost so much from the systems that have caused our climate crisis; the latter who stand to lose everything if we don’t turn things around.
One group that left a big impression on me was the Pacific Climate Warriors from Roosevelt High School in north Portland. Waving a Tongan flag and representing Pacific Islanders, several dozen of them stood near the microphone as their leader spoke forcefully with a forceful mix of fear, anger, passion and power. “We refuse to let the world see us as victims! We are warriors! We are not drowning, we are fighting! Climate justice is our liberation!” Another one said, “As the seas rise, so do we!”
The speeches and songs were followed by a massive march that went from the plaza across from City Hall and over the Hawthorne Bridge to OMSI. It was inspiring and empowering to be part of such a large mass of people, all focused on the same fight.
I was there mostly to participate (with my mom who’s in town visiting!) and to just soak it all in. Read more reporting on the event via Willamette Week and other outlets. Browse more images below…
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