Student protesters march for action against climate change

Santa Barbara High School student Eli Papadopoulous starts the chant “it’s real, it’s now, climate is in our hands now!” on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, at De La Guerra Plaza in Downtown Santa Barbara, Calif. Around the globe masses of young people left school to protest human influence on climate change and hundreds marched down State Street chanting and encouraging others to join them.

Lucy Marx, News Editor

Rallying cries flooded the streets of downtown Santa Barbara Friday as hundreds of local students marched in support of the Global Climate Strike

Students from local schools walked out of their classes as part of a global school strike to stand with Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, 16, in her fight for climate change awareness and action.

City College student and Student Sustainability Coalition member Natalie Blackwelder played a key role in organizing the march, saying she noticed nothing had been planned and “took it upon [herself] to create the event.

“That was more of a turnout than I thought,” Blackwelder said. “It’s a good way to get involved in something that really matters.”

Students from Santa Barbara High School’s Green Club also helped organize the event. 

“We are striking because we demand action today and not tomorrow,” said Santa Barbara High School senior Evan Sherman. “Ultimately it’s our future that we’re fighting for.”

Students from all over the community arrived at De La Guerra Plaza just after 11 a.m. on Friday before the group marched down State Street to Stearns Wharf and back again. 

“It is our turn to be loud, we are not going to be silent,” said Santa Barbara High School student Eli Papadopoulous. “This has to change right here, right now.”

Papadopoulous led many chants as the group marched down State Street, with students shouting, “It’s real. It’s now. Climate change is in our hands now,” and “This is what democracy looks like.”

Onlookers supported the students by honking their horns and yelling encouragement, and students called to passing cars to “throw away their trash,” and assured community members, “[we] can still save it.”

Many of the student demonstrators said they believed it has fallen on them to take action because those in power refuse to. 

“If adults don’t do it then we have to. We have no choice,” said La Cumbre Junior High student Camilla Dorado. 

The strike on Friday was a part of the Fridays for Future movement, led by Greta Thunberg.

The rate of students around the world striking in support of climate change has grown since Summer 2018, when Thunberg protested outside of the Swedish Parliament.  

“We have to decide for ourselves what our world will be,” Papadopoulous said.

The United Nations Climate Action Summit will take place on Monday, Sept. 23. World leaders will meet to discuss the immediate action needed to address the global climate emergency.

The Global Climate Strike will continue next Friday at noon, with Santa Barbara demonstrators meeting once again at De La Guerra Plaza to make their voices heard.