Portland students stage walkout against climate change
Hundreds of students walked out of school Friday, May 20, to march through the streets of Portland in a demand for climate justice.
Organized by youth climate activists, the multigenerational climate strike began at 11 a.m. at City Hall, where speakers talked about the threats of the impending climate crisis and called on lawmakers to commit to change.
While students staged a mass school walkout as part of the event, 15-year-old strike organizer Adah Crandall told KOIN 6 News the event was not about skipping class — it was about holding lawmakers accountable.
"Young people see the need for radical, bold climate action in Portland, but that's not what we're seeing our leaders do," Crandall said. "So we are demanding that they take action against the climate crisis."
The youth strike leader said she became compelled to get involved in climate activism after witnessing the impacts firsthand as a student at Harriet Tubman Middle School, which became the center of a climate debate after a planned I-5 expansion in the school's backyard was feared to increase emissions at the campus.
Crandall said that she and the other organizers have called on lawmakers to sign a pledge committing to working with student activists to fight climate change through policy and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
Several local lawmakers attended the event. Among those who chose to sign the pledge was Multnomah County Commissioner Sharon Meieran.
Recalling the heat dome last summer, Meieran, an emergency room nurse, told KOIN 6 News she felt compelled to respond to the students' call to action.
"We face the highest temperatures we've ever had and saw people dying because of the climate change," Meieran said. "This is not some concept; this is real, and it's impacting our communities."
Crandall said that, contrary to the stigma, climate change is not just a youth issue, stating, "Adults need to stop saying that the children will save us and that the children will stop climate change. We cannot. We need the support of all generations; we need everybody out here with us fighting to stop the climate crisis."
City officials estimate nearly 2,000 marchers made the trek from City Hall across the bridge to the Portland Climate Festival at Revolution Hall Friday afternoon — many of them students who skipped their lessons to try and teach the community one.
KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune.
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