“Hey hey, ho ho, fossil fuels have got to go. Hey hey, ho ho, fossil fuels have got to go,” a crowd of nearly 8,000, mostly students, chanted yesterday morning as they marched from the Western Sculpture Park to where they gathered in front of the Capitol.
“I think we’re at the point that it just needs to be known that [climate change is] real and needs to be accepted,” junior Gavin Kimmel said.
“All of the legislators will look out their windows and see the amount of people who actually care about this. How it’s a very important issue to very many people, and this is actually what I feel like democracy is about: people showing what they want to the people in power and hopefully producing some meaningful change from that,” senior Sydney Therien said.
Inspired by leaders like Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old environmental activist from Sweden, approximately 1.2 million youth attended climate strikes across the country on Sept. 20. Isra Hirsi, the daughter of Ilhan Omar, US Representative for Minnesota’s 5th congressional district, is the founder of U.S. Youth Climate Strike, an organization that helped coordinate the protest. Hirsi was one of several speakers at the strike. Other speakers included St. Paul city councilmember Mitra Jalali Nelson and Kandace Montgomery of the Black Visions Collective, as well as some of the student organizers of the march.
“Look at what we’ve been able to do. We’ve been able to change the conversation from metal straws and recycling to fundamental policy changes with an emphasis on climate justice,” co-chair of the MN climate strike Mia DiLorenzo said to the crowd.
DiLorenzo’s fellow co-chair, Juwaria Jama, a sophomore at Spring Lake Park high school, performed a spoken word piece she had written.
“There’s something the whole world should know: we aren’t generation Z. We aren’t the last to live. And we won’t let this crisis be, we won’t let this crisis be the be-it-all for our generation because we are the era of the Green New Deal. We are Gen GND, and we are just getting started,” Jama said in her poem.
After hearing from speakers, protesters headed into the Capitol building to participate in a die-in under the rotunda to mourn lives lost to climate change.
This was the first student walk out of 2019. The last was for the March for Our Lives protest for gun control in April 2018.
This story is featured in Best of SNO.