Tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered in San Francisco for the Climate Strike on Sept. 20, 2019. Nastia Voynovskaya
Tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered in San Francisco for the Climate Strike on Sept. 20, 2019. (Nastia Voynovskaya)

'Green Not Greed': Young Climate Protesters in their Own Words (and Signs)

'Green Not Greed': Young Climate Protesters in their Own Words (and Signs)

On Friday, demonstrators from San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose and other Northern California cities joined the global Climate Strike, demanding a progressive climate policy, accountability from the globe's biggest polluters and asylum for refugees escaping natural disasters.

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In San Francisco, the march started at 10am on Seventh Street in front of the Federal Building, where House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office is located, and continued down Market Street. Marchers stopped at the storefronts and company headquarters of Bank of America, Amazon, BlackRock and PG&E to protest their contributions to the climate crisis through boisterous chants and slogans written in chalk on the sidewalks.

Most of the demonstrators were children and teenagers, some in the company of parents and teachers, others in groups of peers. Their handmade, creative protest signs called out adults in power and advocated for alternative energy, veganism, racial justice and more. Here's what they told us:

Demonstrators at the Climate Strike in San Francisco on Sept. 20, 2019. Teenage girls hold signs that say "You'll die of old age, I'll die of climate change" and "Don't be a fossil fool."
Demonstrators at the Climate Strike in San Francisco on Sept. 20, 2019. (Nastia Voynovskaya)

"I'm here because I care about our planet, and it's going to get to a point where the effects of climate change are going to be irreversible," says Abby Diacumos, 17, of San Mateo (left). "We have to do something now and every voice here has to be heard. ... The greedy corporations are filled with white old men, and the people who care about this are younger millennials and Gen Zs, and we're the ones making a difference."

Demonstrators at the Climate Strike in San Francisco on Sept. 20, 2019.
Demonstrators at the Climate Strike in San Francisco on Sept. 20, 2019. (Nastia Voynovskaya)

"The reason we're here is to support the youth striking across the globe. By bringing puppets, by bringing art, it's a great way to bring people in," says Rico Sisney of Green Peace, whose puppets of fossil fuel CEOs, including Shell's Ben van Beurden and BP's Bob Dudley, could be seen at the march (above). "We know that fossil fuel companies got us into this mess, so we want to put some names and faces of exactly who has helped cause this climate crisis."

Demonstrators at the Climate Strike in San Francisco on Sept. 20, 2019. A teenage girl holds a sign that says "Environmental racial justice issue. Black Lives Matter. Abolish ICE."
Demonstrators at the Climate Strike in San Francisco on Sept. 20, 2019. (Nastia Voynovskaya)

"There are factories being built in low-income communities, and we are being affected the most," says Ana Mendez, 17, of Oakland. "We live in Oakland and there's people living in Piedmont who live 10 years more than us because of the air quality."

Demonstrators at the Climate Strike in San Francisco on Sept. 20, 2019. A teenage boy holds a sign that says "If you did your job we would be in school."
Demonstrators at the Climate Strike in San Francisco on Sept. 20, 2019. (Nastia Voynovskaya)

"We have to miss school for this, and my sister is missing a Spanish test today," says William Floid, 14, of Menlo Park. "We wouldn't have to be doing this if [the adults] were doing things right."

Demonstrators at the Climate Strike in San Francisco on Sept. 20, 2019. A mother holds a baby with the sign "It's my world."
Demonstrators at the Climate Strike in San Francisco on Sept. 20, 2019. (Nastia Voynovskaya)

"She's going to have to have whatever we leave, and I want to make sure we do what we can to leave it good for her," says Cyan Samone of Mill Valley while holding baby Nova.

Demonstrators at the Climate Strike in San Francisco on Sept. 20, 2019. One holds a sign that says "Like the ocean we rise."
Demonstrators at the Climate Strike in San Francisco on Sept. 20, 2019. (Nastia Voynovskaya)

"I'm here because our Earth is in danger. It's clear to see to everybody except our leaders," says Néha Gupta, 16, of San Leandro (right). "The oceans rising disproportionately affects the poor, especially in other countries as well. And I just feel like whole parts of our world are going to be washed away if we don't do something about it."

Demonstrators at the Climate Strike in San Francisco on Sept. 20, 2019. A young man holds a sign that says "Ditch Tesla, invest in trains."
Demonstrators at the Climate Strike in San Francisco on Sept. 20, 2019. (Nastia Voynovskaya)

"Technocratic individualist solutions won't stop a systemic issue," says Kevin Nguyen of Sunnyvale.

Demonstrators at the Climate Strike in San Francisco on Sept. 20, 2019. Three teenage girls hold a sign that says "Global warming is a global warning."
Demonstrators at the Climate Strike in San Francisco on Sept. 20, 2019. (Nastia Voynovskaya)

"I care about my future and I want to be able to have a family where everyone is safe and can grow up in a good environment," says Shima Dixon, 14, of Berkeley (left).

Demonstrators at the Climate Strike in San Francisco on Sept. 20, 2019. A teenage girl holds a sign that says "Our air is as clean as my browser history."
Demonstrators at the Climate Strike in San Francisco on Sept. 20, 2019. (Nastia Voynovskaya)

"I'm here because I'm upset with how the adults have treated our Earth, and I believe if I stand up against what's happening right now we can maybe get some attention and actually get change," says Kate Richardson, 15, of Los Altos. "And the story behind my sign is I recently got grounded for my browser history, so this is me not only standing up to my parents, but also standing up to climate change at the same time."

Demonstrators at the Climate Strike in San Francisco on Sept. 20, 2019.
Demonstrators at the Climate Strike in San Francisco on Sept. 20, 2019. (Nastia Voynovskaya)

"In our school, there are [students from] 40 different countries, so I asked everyone to write down 'help' in their own language," says Ha Tian, 19, of San Francisco (left). "Our climate is dying and it's a global issue."

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