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DTLA Youth March, Calling on Elected Officials to Fight Climate Change

About 200 people, many of them high school and college age, gathered in downtown Los Angeles on Friday, September 23, to demand that politicians and officials in power take measures to combat environmental injustice they say disproportionately affects the poor and communities of color.

The event outside Los Angels City Hall, described as a strike because students were asked to give up their classes for the day, was organized by Youth Climate Strike Los Angeles. It was part of a youth-led global day of climate action, coinciding with Climate Week in New York City.

“We were the first city to declare a climate emergency, but we are slower when it comes to implementing climate action,” said Sim Bilal, lead organizer of Youth Climate Strike Los Angeles, adding that Los Angeles is one of the largest urban oil companies. drilling sites in the world.

The group is calling on Los Angeles mayoral candidates Karen Bass and Rick Caruso to pledge not to accept campaign money from the fossil fuel industry, and is asking CalPERS and CalSTRS, California’s employee and educator retirement systems, to divest from companies that promote the use of fossil fuels. They are also calling on the Los Angeles Unified School District – the second largest K-12 system in the country – to provide more shade on campus to combat the urban heat.

Marchi Doss, 21, a graduate of Dorsey High School in south-central Los Angeles and a member of the advocacy group Students Deserve, was one of many speakers who spoke out about the role of environmental injustice in their communities.

It’s no accident, she said, that highways and factories that emit air pollution are often set up in black and brown communities. Additionally, blacks have higher rates of obesity because fast food restaurants tend to open in their neighborhoods rather than healthy offerings like farmers’ markets, said Doss, a student at West Los Angeles College.

The former school district advocated to help bring about change.

“The LAUSD may not be able to directly influence city policies, but they can certainly use their efforts and influence the elected city and get them to support us,” Doss said. “LAUSD may not be able to remove these fast food chains, but it can open community parks and give people a choice.”

“The LAUSD may not have control of the sun,” Doss said, but since they are the largest landowners in the greater Los Angeles area, “we require that these sites have nice shaded areas for students to sit and play.”

Among the listeners was 15-year-old Finley Aschenmiller, a 10th grader in the City of Angels Independent Study Program in Los Angeles. Just a few years ago, I attended Eagle Rock Elementary School, a school that underwent a playground renovation in 2016.

“I experienced the benefits of having a green schoolyard,” Aschenmiller said. “I want others to have that, too.”

A Friday rally in Los Angeles attracted only a small part of the crowd that took part in 2019, when thousands of young people poured into the streets to hear the famous young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.

While there was no international buzz for this week’s “strike” headline and the crowd was noticeably slimmer, those who attended the rally said it was worth a visit — and some students said they found it more educational than they had stayed in class for the day.

Lily Snyder, an 18-year-old student at Occidental College, showed up with two of her classmates. Snyder missed three classes Friday to participate in the strike, but she said it was important for politicians and other adults in power to hear from her generation.

“It’s about getting (adults) to understand that they got it wrong. We didn’t do this,” Snyder said explaining why she decided to come to demand immediate action to combat climate change.

But she said that the future of her generation and the future of subsequent generations will be affected.

Lauren Lundquist, a professor who teaches sustainability and other topics in Northern California, told the crowd at the noon rally how nearby residents were hit by a 2015 gas explosion at Aliso Canyon, a natural gas storage facility that was the site of the largest of the gases. Leak in US history.


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