Students protest for climate legislation in renewed movement

Students protest for climate legislation in renewed movement
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Building off the momentum from 2019, masses of young activists assembled once more in New York City on Friday demanding leaders do far more to address the worsening climate crisis. Students from Townsend Harris High School joined the protests, chanting for environmental change as the pandemic subsists and public health restrictions loosen. 

The strike made headlines on September 20, 2019 when about 100 students from THHS joined with four million others in a series of international protests to push for legislative action against climate change. Recently, a similar event organized by Friday’s For Future was reproduced on a much smaller scale, gathering at 1:30 pm in Brooklyn Borough Hall and subsequently marching across the Brooklyn Bridge. Contrary to the figures years ago, 40 Harrisites signed up to strike and an estimated 30 showed up.

The youth movement, Friday’s For Future, inspired by famous young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, recently resumed in-person strikes. Last year, to comply with COVID-19 safety protocols, youth climate activists were forced to video call over Zoom. This year, organizers decided to return to the streets, putting back into perspective the scale of the issue at hand as business industries return.

Senior and Co-President of the THHS Green Team Rahma Abdullah promoted the strike within the club. She said, “I think there’s definitely an added factor of fear when it comes to attending large rallies during the COVID era, as social distancing is especially difficult at such events… but I believe that at this point in time it’s relatively safe to attend as long as strikers follow proper COVID protocol, including being vaccinated and properly masking.”

One day before the strike, a poster-making event was held by the THHS Climate Strike Instagram account after school in Room 115. Students were given art supplies and poster paper, creating a message in support of the movement to be brought the day after. Junior Prisha Rao attended both the strike in her Freshman year and the one last week, helping organize the school’s involvement in the rally.

At the rally, protestors advocated for a plethora of relevant environmentalist legislation for the city, including an end to the construction of the North Brooklyn Pipeline, the creation of acts to restrict the construction of all-electric buildings, a new authority funded by corporate polluters, bans on new electric generating facilities powered by fossil fuels, and the increased engagement of students in sustainable activities.

Prisha, who is also the Co-President of the THHS Green Team, said, “just coming to the event and seeing how many other people are invested, seeing how many people are impacted by climate injustice is really important because people will start to realize that it’s an issue that’s bigger than them.”

Reflecting on the event, freshman Joline Tung said, “I was always really mad [about] how people would never really do anything about climate change and how they’d kind of leave it as a side problem. I decided to come because my friend was going and she told me that I should go and said it’d be a really fun experience and [that] I’d learn more from it.” 

Junior Maggie Huang attended the strike held two years prior and said, “[It wasn’t] what I expected. It was organized to the best that it could be, but a lot of people could obviously leave whenever they wanted. I’m not sure if these movements or protests are really effective, but I think they’re effective in just spreading awareness on the issue.”

For students looking to support the protest without leaving the comfort of their homes, Fridays For Future’s Global Citizen campaign said, “You can change your social media profile picture, striking indoors with a sign posting on social media (using hashtags such as #FridaysForFuture; #ClimateStrikeonline, and #Digitalstrike). You could also get creative with a performative piece, sign online petitions, or take action urging world and business leaders to take climate action now with Global Citizen.”

To keep pressure on lawmakers and the NYC administration, the movement will take place annually as efforts to limit global warming increase.

Prisha said, “I think it’s also important for people to realize that even if they don’t come, just knowing that there’s a climate strike going on out there can help them stay informed about what’s going on in the world, like what bills are trying to get passed right now, especially the ones that [young people] are fighting for.”

Photo by Jackie Chen