The steps of the Ohio Statehouse were flooded with over 400 students, teachers and protestors of all ages at the Youth Climate Strike Friday.
In the middle of a school day, protestors listened to speeches, poetry and songs before marching to the offices of Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman demanding action on climate change. The protest was part of the Global Climate Strike, featuring millions of people in marches around the world, according to the Global Climate Strike website.
“It’s specifically the Youth Climate Strike because we are the ones that are supposed to be inheriting this earth and we can’t inherit something that’s barren and thats destroyed by climate change,” Mitchell Foster, a second-year in political science and chief of staff for the Ohio State College Democrats, said.
The protesters marched to the offices of the two Ohio senators to deliver written demands. They requested a strong commitment to the Green New Deal, divestment from fossil fuels and encouraged the support of government programs that help disenfranchised people affected by climate change, Elizabeth Hixon, strike organizer, said.
The protestors were turned away from the Sen. Portman’s office but were able to deliver their demands to Sen. Brown’s office.
Despite being turned away, Sophie Roome, strike mentor, said she thinks they still had an impact on the Columbus community and met their goals.
“I think having a big event like this really does start a conversation because we marched down the street and cars saw what we were doing and people just kinda walk by and gather to see what’s happening” Roome said. “I think people are going to leave feeling really energized and talk to their friends and their co-workers about it and that is also one of the goals, to make it a household topic.”
Before the march, protesters heard a series of speeches from organizers and guest speakers on the Statehouse steps.
Michael Charles, protest speaker, Ohio State Ph.D. student in chemical engineering and a member of the Navajo nation, spoke about how climate change specifically affects indigenous people.
“Our identities are tied to the land and through our languages and through the ecological knowledge, which informs our daily lifestyles, so as the climate changes, our identities change,” Charles said during the speech. “Back home we are experiencing unprecedented drought impacting our traditional way of farming and herding, and we’re still fighting against the injustice of toxic water from the Gold King mine spill, which leaked lead and arsenic into the Navajo Watershed.”
Multiple speakers demanded the repeal of House Bill 6, a bill passed July 23 that reduced clean energy regulations in Ohio and bailed out FirstEnergy Solutions’ nuclear power plants.