“It’s not enough to ride my bike everywhere, stop using plastic straws or eating meat, though it’s important to do what you can for the planet. What we’re gathered here today to fight for is climate justice… Climate justice is about seeing where, what and who is most impacted by the climate crisis and it’s about helping those communities on the front lines.“
Just over three dozen people gathered at the Rhode Island State House on Sunday afternoon as part of the Rally for Racial and Climate Justice. Organized by Youth Climate Strike Rhode Island (RIYCS) and Gen Z: We Want to Live, the rally began with a march from Burnside Park to the State House.
“Fighting for the environment like my grandfather taught me to is no longer enough,” said high school student Ella Boyan. “It’s not enough to ride my bike everywhere, stop using plastic straws or eating meat, though it’s important to do what you can for the planet. What we’re gathered here today to fight for is climate justice.
“Climate justice is about seeing where, what and who is most impacted by the climate crisis and it’s about helping those communities on the front lines.”
“Our votes matter now more than ever,” said Adamaris Villar, who is running for City Council in Central Falls. “We can effect the change we want to see. We’re here today to make sure that everyone is aware that we demand racial and climate justice… Racial justice and climate justice go hand in hand… We cannot have one without the other.”
“The leadership of every other generation before us has failed to right this course, has failed to treat the climate emergency like what it is, which is a crisis of nothing less than existential proportions,” said former state representative Aaron Regunberg. “So that leaves us. We are the last generations that have the capacity to preserve human civilization on this planet…”
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Rhode Island State Representative Rebecca Kislak (Democrat, District 4, Providence) began by noting that the Rhode Island General Assembly has done nothing to address the climate catastrophe in the two years she’s been an elected official. “We have to do a better job,” she said.
“One of the most important things that we do in this building is that we pass a budget,” continued Kislak. “That budget, every year, should reflect our values of racial and economic justice… Especially right now, in this time of a global pandemic that we see impacting our communities disparately, and at a time of national and international calls for racial justice, we must make sure that our budget reflects our values of racial and economic justice…”
Eugenie, with a poem:
“It wasn’t until recent years that I learned about environmental justice and how that impacts poor people and people of color first,” said Central Falls City Councilmember Jessica Vega. “This isn’t a progressive versus Republican [issue]. This is a human rights issue. We shouldn’t be cozying up to corporate greed…”