Climate Strike Returns to Boston with Urgency

For the past two years, youths around the world have protested for action against Climate Change.  Sparked by the climate strikes done by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg in 2018; an international movement has risen to combat the increasing global temperatures and the disasters associated with it.  This is known as the School Strike for Climate.  On Friday, September 24, 2021, Bostonian Youths held a Climate Strike in Boston Common along with millions of others around the world.

“People don’t want to think about the fact that we could’ve worked on the Climate issue decades ago” explained Reggi Alkiewicz, the Civic Engagement Coordinator for the North American Indian Center of Boston.  “People don’t want to think about the fact that we’ve been dealing with an ongoing climate crisis.”  Calling out to the inactive adults in power, Alkiewicz explains that “we, the youth.  The young adults.  The ones coming into power do think” about climate change.  

“I remember running through our old living room right when I came back home and the building began to shake” said TEDtalk speaker and Syrian refugee Dania Hallak as she recounts the Syrian Revolution.  “It wasn’t until several years after fleeing Syria that one of the factors that caused the instability in Syria was Climate Change.”  The Climate Crisis continues to haunt Hallak as “[she] can’t seem to escape the effects of climate change.”  As a Revere resident, Hallak explains that “A few years ago, [she] saw students that go to [her] school evacuating their houses in the winter to avoid floods.  This winter, [she] will be one of those students.”

Organized by the Fridays for Future MA. and the Massachusetts Youth Climate Coalition, the Massachusetts Youth Climate Coalition have five demands.  According to the Fridays for Future MA. Instagram, the first is to “create, fight for, and execute climate justice policy inclusively and transparently.”  This means involving youth in all aspects of the political process regarding climate justice policies, “delivering consistent messages to youth activists and allies” and transparency regarding the process behind passing these bills. 

Climate Strike Organizer directing the Climate Strike protesters into Boston Common. Photo by Brandon Wong

The second demand is to “ center environmental justice” around dismantling racism, classism and other systems of oppression.  This means defunding and dismantling those systems that create and enforce climate and social crises, banning dangerous or polluting energy infrastructures and providing “housing protections, renovations, mitigations and adaptation projects.”  

The third demand is to set and enforce “bold science-based renewable energy targets” such as reducing economy-wide climate pollution by 60% by 2030 and set “interim emission targets every 5 years” with severe financial and legal penalties to both the government and “industry players” who do not comply.  

The fourth demand is to fund a “just transition with progressive taxation and corporate polluter fees.”  This means making all taxes “highly progressive” and redistributing them and reinvesting the wealth in “critical public projects, especially for climate mitigation” and implement an economy-wide corporate polluter fee within one year.  

The last demand is to reform climate and civics education to encourage “youth participation.”  This means teaching students about fair labor law and unions to “build a just transition” and provide classes that focus on real-world problems such as climate change.

Starting at 3:00 pm, protesters organized themselves at the intersection of Charles and Beacon Street entrance to the Boston Gardens.  Bearing bright neon jackets, organizers taught the protesters several chants, including “What do we want?  Climate Justice!  When do we want it?  Now!” and asked protesters to keep their masks on to ensure the event is covid safe.  Despite this, anti-vaccine protesters merged themselves with the climate strike protesters.    

Moving up Beacon Street, the climate strike protesters marched up to the State House.  Disconnecting themselves with the Climate Strike protesters, anti-vaccine protesters led the crowd up the State House.  Chanting “Hey Hey!  Ho-Ho!  The MTA has got to go!”, a parody of the Climate Strike protesters chant “Hey Hey!  Ho-Ho!  Fossil Fuels has got to go!”, the Anti-Vaccine protesters were criticising the teachers union.

Quickly taking up the foot of the State House, the Anti-Vaccine protesters urged the Climate Strike protesters to leave as they stood on the street protesting, maintaining a clear distinction between the Climate Strike protesters and the Anti-Vaccine Protesters.  Climate Strike organizer Divya Nandan found it “incredibly frustrating how deeply people believe misinformation” but was proud of the Climate Strike protesters for “being calm and continuing what they were there to do.”  Despite this, there was some conflict between the Climate Strike protesters.  Nandan states that the “[Massachusetts Youth Climate Coalition] and [Fridays for Future MA] did not encourage anyone to engage with the [Anti-Vaccine protesters].”

The march continued as Climate Strike protesters made a right down Park Street followed by another right down Tremont Street before entering Boston Common on the Tremont Street entrance.  The march concluded at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, where the demonstration was held.

Climate Strike protesters from the North American Indian Center of Boston leading a chant. Photo by Brandon Wong.

In a statement made by the Fridays for Future MA, the Climate Strike march and demonstration were not permitted.  It is “[a] symbolically important signal that police are not welcome to join the event”.  Fridays for Future Ma explained that “[they] take the intersection of climate and racial justice very seriously, including the long history of police and military protecting the fossil fuel industry against activists.”

Edit: The final destination was falsely attributed to the Parkman Bandstand.  The 5 demands were falsely attributed to the Fridays For Future MA.

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