With anger, impatience, and youthful energy, thousands march from Capitol Hill in Seattle Climate Strike

“My name’s Darrius, I’m 17 years old, I attend Rainier Beach, and I love my city and my country.” — Darrius, center

With reporting and photography by Alex Garland

Some 3,000 or so students and supporters rallied in Cal Anderson and marched downtown where they met with thousands more Friday as Seattle joined the global Climate Strike effort.

Dozens of student speakers took a few minutes at the mic in the Capitol Hill park to call for officials to do more — and do more a heck of a lot faster — about climate change.

“I should be stressed about the acne on my face,” one 12-year-old said during their turn at the microphone. “I shouldn’t be stressed about how hot the earth is.”

Organized by Washington Youth Climate Strike, Fridays for Future Seattle, and 350 Seattle, an advocacy group pushing for Green New Deal initiatives in the city, Friday’s strike brought students from around Seattle and the Eastside for a day of advocacy and action.

Many of the young speakers expressed anger and impatience with their elected leaders.

“People like our own president are climate deniers. And I am so. Fucking. Scared,” one student said, dropping the day’s first f-bomb and firing up the crowd.

“There is a reason our politicians do nothing about climate change…,” another speaker said. “It’s all about money.”

“In order for real change to happen, we can’t keep waiting around for government to do something,” another said. “We have to make them do something.”

“We don’t have a vote but we do have a voice,” yet another promised.

Many also spoke about the decision by Seattle Public Schools to not allow students an excused absence to attend the rally and march.

“Like many of you, I am skipping school today,” a student speaker said. “Thank you for skipping with me. Because it is our generation who is going to suffer most from climate change.”

SPS superintendent Denise Juneau, another speaker recalled, said the “best thing that students can do is be in science class.”  “They keep telling us this is an issue for the future — there are people dying right now,” the student said.

Friday’s event was the second climate strike in six months in Seattle with both filling Cal Anderson with students. Organizers have also been holding weekly strikes at City Hall where Friday’s march — joined by thousands who gathered with tech workers near the Amazon spheres — ended with another rally and more speakers.

In total, around eight thousand marched according to unofficial estimates. The marchers from Capitol Hill filled Pine from Cal Anderson to I-5 — though the youth-led march was a little more stretched out than previous big marches thanks to the much faster pace powered by youthful exuberance. A large police presence was on hand but officers mostly busied themselves with keeping streets cleared and directing the large crowd out of traffic’s path as much as possible when it arrived at City Hall.

On a day with the voices of so many young people at the center of the rally and march, impatience may have been the predominant theme of the day back at Cal Anderson.

“This Not In My Backyard approach will not go on any longer,” a speaker said as the crowd prepared to take to the street on E Pine for the march off the Hill. If others in the world are suffering, the student said, “so are we.”

 

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