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“This Country Needs to Get Its Priorities Straight”: Voices from NYC School Strike for Climate

Web ExclusiveMarch 16, 2019
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Hundreds of thousands of students in over 100 countries went on a “school strike for climate” demanding immediate, urgent action to curb global warming. When New York City students rallied outside City Hall, Democracy Now! was there and spoke to some of the attendees. Today’s mass protests were sparked by 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who has skipped school every Friday to sit outside the Swedish parliament to demand leaders act on climate. Watch our interview with Greta at the 24th U.N. climate summit in Katowice, Poland.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

PROTESTERS: What do we want? Change! When do we want it? Now! What do we want? Change! When do we want it? Now!

ALYSA CHEN: I am here from Bronx Science. We walked out of our school. We all received cuts. My friends got zeros on their math test. We’ve neglected anything from our school to walk out and come here today from the Bronx. This country needs to get its priorities straight. I demand our mayor to support the declaration of climate change as a national emergency!

PROTESTERS: This is what democracy looks like! Show me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!

DIEGO DELGADO: My name is Diego Delgado. I go to the Bronx Academy for Software Engineering. The reason I came here with my flag of Puerto Rico is because I wanted to show support for my country or the island. I wanted to show support for the rest of the Caribbean, because it’s a very low-lying area that needs to have support put onto it, because the oceans are rising very quickly, and these are very susceptible to that, as well as the fact that Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico and other islands in 2017. Many still haven’t recovered. Three thousand people died in Puerto Rico, including members of my own family. And I think it’s an issue that the United States did not focus enough on, and Puerto Rico did not receive enough aid from the United States. So, it just goes to show that climate change is killing people already, and the U.S. has complete inaction on it.

ZOEY: My name is Zoey, and I go to the Brooklyn Free School. My sign says, “Fracking No!” because fracking is wrong, and there’s nothing good about it. And it like causes earthquakes. It pollutes the water around it, so people and animals can die. It’s horrible!

PROTESTERS: When our planet’s under attack, what we do? Stand up, fight back! When our planet’s under attack, what we do? Stand up, fight back!

AMINA: My name is Amina, and we’re all from the Brooklyn New School P.S. 146. And we’re here because the climate change isn’t just like something that will pass. We have to do something about it. And a lot of people aren’t doing anything about it, so we’re here protesting, so more people will do stuff about it.

PROTESTERS: Fossil fuels have got to go! Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Fossil fuels have got to go! Hey, hey! Ho, ho!

TASNIM EMU: My name is Tasnim Emu, and I’m from Urban Assembly Institute of Math and Science for Young Women. They say that education isn’t worth sacrificing to make a political point. But I think they’re wrong, because we’re all here going to school, and we think that we have this big future for us, but our education will be ignored if we’re too busy trying to survive instead of living. I think they should pass the green new bill. I heard about it, and I’m all for it. I just think it’s such a good idea. And the fact that there are politicians who don’t believe that this should be like passed is just absurd to me, because you know what’s happening, you see what’s happening, and you’re still ignoring it. And I feel like money is such a big part of this. And it’s just like, money is not going to matter when everyone’s dying.

PROTESTERS: Sea levels are rising! And so are we!

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