Students Hold Climate Change Protest on the Downtown Mall
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Hundreds of people in Charlottesville are demanding climate action. They walked out of school and off the job as part of a worldwide protest.
The event is part of the Youth Climate Strike, with rallies taking place across the nation and in more than 150 countries worldwide. People from across the city came together on the Downtown Mall to demand action on climate issues nationwide and closer to home.
That rally was organized by 12-year-old Gudrun Campbell. She says she was inspired by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, the founder of the Youth Climate Strike.
"There shouldn't be such a thing as a youth climate activist. We shouldn't have to be doing this, but we do,” said Campbell. "we're doing this as part of the global school strike for climate movement that Greta started, and we're here because Climate change is a political problem.”
The young students had a lot of support - many coming from the University of Virginia where a climate strike was held earlier in the day, before many of them joined the student’s Downtown.
"We're striking against the lack of political courage and the lack of political will to act on climate in a way that is anywhere near appropriate to the crisis that's unfolding,” said Rosina Snow, Virginia Interfaith Power and Light.
This isn't Charlottesville’s first climate strike, but this one has a local focus. Organizers rallied against the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines. They also protested Dominion Energy's plan for a compressor station in Buckingham County's Union Hill neighborhood, a historically African-American community.
"My great, great grandfather that worked that plantation under a slave master back in the early 1800s was able to purchase this land after the emancipation proclamation for $15. The land has been in our family ever since,” said Richard Walker, Union Hill resident.
The strike culminated in a "die-in," in which students laid down as if they were dead. It aimed to symbolize the burden climate change places on them and their futures.
The event was scheduled on Friday intentionally. Organizers wanted to draw attention to the U.N. Climate Change Summit meeting in New York on Monday.
Climate strikers also hit the streets of Staunton Friday morning. Hundreds of people with signs marched to support the nation's youth in calling for political action on the issue. They marched from the Staunton Innovation Hub to the Sunspots Pavilion. Many of them wore black or green to represent the climate crisis and action, respectively.