Photograph by Bella Nathan
Crowds gathered in the Mission District of San Francisco last Saturday, September 8, in order to protest what they felt was a lack of environmental action from the Trump administration, as well as state Governors. Tens of thousands of people took part in marches, rallies, and voter registrations throughout the course of the day. The protest was organized in anticipation of Governor Jerry Brown’s climate change summit, which occurred in San Francisco from September 12-14.
A group of around thirty thousand people from the Bay Area took part in Saturday’s march, supporting the “Rise for Climate, Jobs, and Justice” movement, that has reached cities across the country such as New York, Miami, Boston, and Portland. Among this crowd were numerous of Berkeley High School’s (BHS) student activists, working to make their voices heard. Since President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, a consensus reached in 2015 to hold world leaders accountable for their pledges to reduce the carbon footprints of their respective countries. Many people have been upset with Trump’s approach to climate change.
One of these people is Rafael Kadaris, who attended the march as a part of the Revolution Club Bay Area. He said he was outraged by what he believed to be President Trump’s general doubt and lack of interest when it comes to climate change. “The seas are rising, the forests are being cut down, the bees are dying, the coral reefs are getting bleached, whole species are being wiped out, and people in poor countries are being ravaged by the effects of global warming,” said Kadaris. “The Paris Climate Agreement was totally insufficient to begin with, but Trump pulling out of it will only make things much worse,” said Kadaris when asked about Trump’s withdrawal from the aforementioned agreement.
“If we don’t fight for the planet there will be no future [for] any of us,” said Xochitl Johnson, a member of the Revolution Club Bay Area.
Throughout the protest, marchers held signs and chanted slogans, such as, “There is no planet B!”
While the main topic of the protest was climate change, subtopics included the disproportionate effects that environmental pollution can have on minorities, and Native Americans in particular. “The first ones who will suffer will be poor and oppressed communities,” said Johnson. This idea was a big part of the protest, with many Native American groups leading the march, having come as far as from the Ecuadorian Amazon. It was a significant aspect of the protest to attendees such as Mia Rahman, a member of Bishop O’Dowd’s senior leadership group, Solidarity in Action, as she had been studying environmental racism for quite some time.
“The march for climate, racial, and economic justice was a great way for me to show my support for these issues I care about, as well as inspire members of my community to get involved with what they believe in,” stated Rahman in regards to what had initially inspired her to join the protest.
The over arching goal of the protest was clear. “The march today was held to show… leaders that the people want, demand, and expect positive change to be made to increase renewable energy and protect our planet while we still can,” said Rahman.
Organizers have stated that this march was most likely the biggest climate protest to have ever been organized on the west coast. Protesters are hopeful that their efforts will give rise to a greater movement. “Every generation has a social and political movement, and this is ours,” said Sam Kaplan-Pettus, a freshman at BHS who attended the march.