‘We Won't Sit Back Any Longer’: Thousands Of Teens, Activists Rally In NYC For Climate Change Action

WCBS 880 Newsroom
September 20, 2019 - 4:15 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) —Young people fighting for the future of the planet held signs and chanted as they gathered in Lower Manhattan, joining millions around the world to demand urgent action on climate change.

Thousands of students, who were given the green light by the city to skip class, crammed into Foley Square for the second "Global Climate Strike" on Friday before marching down the Canyon of Heroes to Battery Park.

“It’s really about strength in numbers, which will make our voice louder and the voice of people who can’t vote yet louder," Julie McGruder, student organizer, said, adding world leaders shouldn't underestimate the power of young people. "We won't sit back any longer."

Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish climate activist who sparked the global climate strike movement, said she was overwhelmed by the turnout.

"This could only be a fantasy, I would never have predicted or believed that this was going to happen someday and so fast in only a few months," said Thunberg, who joined the youth-led climate strike in New York City, which comes just days before the UN's climate summit. Thunberg arrived in New York last month, sailing across the Atlantic on a carbon-neutral yacht.

One of the lead organizers for the New York rally, Shiv Soin, said the protesters have three main demands, “One: no more fossil fuels. Two: adjust transition in a green economy for all people, especially for frontline communities. And, three, holding fossil fuel executives and polluters accountable."

Soin said world leaders are paying attention.

"We're seeing a lot of progress but at the same time we're seeing a lot of issues still happening right here in the United States, especially. We are cautiously optimistic about what we're doing and we won't stop fighting until we get what we need," Soin said.

The protest was organized to coincide with the upcoming UN General Assembly. Students are hoping to draw attention to the global issue when leaders from all over the world congregate in Lower Manhattan. Event organizers say at least 250,000 turned out for Friday's rally in Lower Manhattan.

"It shows that our generation is really pressuring the people currently in office to do something about climate change," one student said.

High schoolers needed a permission slip to skip classes, while younger students had to be checked out of school and accompanied by a guardian. The Department of Education did not allow teachers to bring their students, saying it would violate rules ensuring a politically neutral learning environment.

Climate strikes were held in more than 1,000 locations across the United States alone.