The kids are not all right — they’re really angry. At City Hall this morning, over 1000 students showed up carrying homemade signs (who is better with magic markers than kids?) A small child, around 3 years old, had an upside down Ikea Frakta bag with streamers on it that resembled a jellyfish, rendered in plastic. Another sign read, “Mind if I breathe?” A boy held a sign emblazoned with “more grass, less cows” (presumably a nod to the meat industry’s impact on the environment rather than the cows themselves). They’re all part of the Youth Climate Strike, taking place in over 110 countries. The New York City protests culminated in Columbus Circle at 2 p.m., but many started at landmarks like the U.N. and City Hall.
Karina, 9, and Indigo, 10, got to the protest early with signs referencing high CO2 levels. They were particularly inspired by young activist Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize yesterday. They’re 8 and 9 years shy of being able to vote, but they’re keenly aware that climate change will affect their lives, and were at City Hall to urge elected officials to act on their behalf.
“People need to listen, and they’re not listening right now. It’s definitely just easier to say it’s not real or its not happening. But that’s not the solution,” Tucker, 17, said.
A group of fifth-graders were skipping school (with a teacher) to attend the protest. One of them, a 10-year-old with blue beads at the ends of her braids named Madyson, had come to the protest with a speech prepared: “The things we’re doing to the earth is bad for the earth and for ourselves,” she proclaimed. “People and animals are dying, and it’s not good for our environment.” As the protest kicked off, the group of students, ranging from 8 year olds to 18 year olds, lined up single file along the gate surrounding City Hall. A group of girls clad in green climbed up and yelled over the fence chants like, “Stop denying the earth is dying,” and the activist classic, “This is what democracy looks like.” A few were wearing Harry Potter robes — all Gryffindor.
Ask about the Green New Deal, and even the older students shy away from engaging in a policy debate. Not because they don’t believe in it, but because it’s complex. “I’m trying to educate myself on it,” Guy, 18, told me.
“Take this seriously, don’t just add it on as one of your campaign platforms, take it seriously,” Fiki, 17, said. The general consensus is, we can’t change the policies or vote yet, but you can.
This post has been corrected to show that several hundred participants