PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Hundreds of students from about 18 different schools in the Portland metro filled downtown streets Friday as part of the Global Climate Strike to push for action on global warming.
The global protest demanded action from legislators nationally and locally to limit global warming. Protests were expected in more than 130 cities and around 90 countries.
The students gathered in front of Portland City Hall with a crowd so large SW 4th Avenue was blocked off for a time. The rally began at 11 a.m. and was followed by a march to the waterfront. Portland Public Schools estimated about 2,000 students participated in the event.
The crowd began to disperse around 12:30 p.m.
Portland Public Schools sent out a letter to parents on Thursday, saying they expect students to stay in school. They encourage students to express their views through other means and expect them to stay in class on Friday.
Initially, PPS said students who took part in the protest/rally would be marked absent and they also said the district could not guarantee their safety if they left campus.
But during the rally, PPS officials told KOIN 6 News students would be allowed back in their classrooms if they returned to their school.
‘Doing what’s right’
Some students at the protest told KOIN 6 News they believe curbing climate change is important enough to miss a class.
“I think we need to get our priorities straight and not spend time going to PE class, which is what I was going to do,” said Iggy Aldama-Shaw, a student at Wilson High School.
Aldama-Shaw hoped the protest would send a message to the lawmakers who can do something about the issue.
“All of our problems with resources and issues — it’s all connected to climate,” she said. “If we focus on this one big issue, it’ll have a ripple effect for everything else.”
Another Wilson High School student said he almost didn’t go to the rally but changed his mind once he realized how much he cared about global warming.
“It’s something we can control and if we don’t do something important to stop it, everyone will be affected regardless of who you are,” said Logan Sweeney. “Sometimes doing what’s right is more important than what’s easy.”
All of the students I talked to today say they’re impressed with how many people showed up and got organized in such a short time, and they hope they have the support of educators and political leaders going forward. #ClimateActionNow #ClimateChangeStrike #PDX pic.twitter.com/o6LK4k0X34— Emily Burris (@emilyburrisTV) March 15, 2019
Solomon Duke, a senior at Franklin High School and a member of Portland Youth Climate Council, was a speaker at the rally. He questioned why schools weren’t shining a bigger light on the issue of climate change.
“Why are children not learning about climate justice as they would social studies or math?” asked Duke. “It is time to uncover the blindfold, open the door and venture out of the safety of ignorance.”
Duke discussed a climate literacy resolution passed by PPS in 2016.
“PPS Board of EDU unanimously passed a resolution for climate curriculum … it is 2019 and no actions have been taken,” he said. “Does the total collapse of our ecosystem seem unimportant to you?”
Duke concluded his speech with a resounding call to action.
“We have the power, we have the resources, we can mitigate the complete and desolate destruction of or climate but only if we act now and act big,” Duke said.
PPS released a statement on its climate literacy resolution Friday: