As part of the Global Climate Strike, the student-organized St. Louis Youth Climate Strike attracted more than 200 protestors in front of St. Louis City Hall today. Youth and adults alike walked out of their schools and jobs in support of climate justice. The movement was sparked by 16-year-old Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg.
Fran Smith, sixth grader, poses with her mother, Katie. Fran brought her mother to the protest because of her dissatisfaction with congressional inaction. “I think this is really important,” Fran said. “If people in power aren’t doing enough about [climate change], then we need to. I’m kind of done waiting.”
[Third from left] Diza Verasco, Sister of Mercy, smiles while standing alongside other members of her church. The group of catholic sisters attended the strike to make a statement on taking care of the planet. “This is a critical concern,” Verasco said. “We came to stand for justice for the Earth.”
Claire Stolze, senior at McKinley Classical Leadership Academy High School, shares statistics about the effect of climate injustice on youth who live in poverty. Stolze received applause after discussing the reality of illegal waste disposal in inner-city communities. “The people living in these lower income communities are suffering the most concentrated effects of corporate pollution and greed,” Stolze said. “These companies that are placing industrial sites and dumping pollutants into low income communities are the same ones mass-polluting the oceans and releasing unsustainably enormous amounts of carbon dioxide into the air.”
While the strike was largely student oriented and led, people of all ages met to listen to 14 speakers before marching around the Old St. Louis County Courthouse. The speakers included student activists and representatives from progressive food and energy companies, local officials and religious leaders.
[Left to right] Belden Lane and Maury Boehmer, St. Louis County residents, hold signs that read “Grandfathers For Greta, Skolstrejk für Klimatet.” Skolstrejk für Klimatet is Swedish for “School Strike for the Climate,” a phrase Thunberg used in her own protests that later inspired global school strikes. “We love Greta Thurnberg,” Lane said. “She is amazing. She is a young girl, even with autism, who is telling older people like us what we didn’t do and what we need to do now.”
Between the two of them, Lane and Boehmer have four grandchildren under the age of 17.
“I am concerned for their future,” Boehmer said. “I feel like this is such a crisis. It’s hard to believe that more people aren't aware of it.”
Emilio Rosas-Lindhard, senior at Clayton High School, speaks before student protestors. Rosas-Lindhard urged protestors to continue their support of the Green New Deal and other climate change legislation. “When you’re my age, you’re all but guaranteed to witness the messy destruction of civilization,” Rosas-Lindhard said. “What’s at stake right now is the existence of my generation.”
[Left to right] Alice Kovarik, Abby Leonard, Vera Rosenblum and Corinne Farrill, eighth graders at McKinley Classical Leadership Academy High School, sit to the right of the crowd. They were also inspired by Thunberg to strike. “We skipped school,” Kovarik said. “[Skipping] was a little bit scary. It was kind of weird, but it was good.”