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Hundreds take to art museum steps to protest climate change

Local rally part of international day of strikes

September 22, 2019

Reuben Schafir
U.S. Senate candidate Betsy Sweet spoke at Bowdoin Climate Action's Global Climate Strike Rally that took place on the steps of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art Friday morning.

“This is what democracy looks like!” chanted the hundreds of Bowdoin students and Brunswick community members gathered at the steps of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art at 10 a.m. last Friday morning. Spilling out across the grass of the quad, the crowd sang songs, waved signs and listened to various speakers at the Global Climate Strike Rally hosted by Bowdoin Climate Action.

The rally at Bowdoin was part of a much wider movement of strikes and rallies that took place across the globe on September 20, as people gathered to protest government inaction against climate change.

“Each of us has something to lose in this climate crisis. We cannot go about business as usual,” said Keaghan Duffy ’23, one of the leaders of the event. “So today, that is why we are joining millions of young people across the world in this global strike in an act of massive non-cooperation to demand that our leaders take radical action to give us a chance for a liveable future. We’re striking for the water that we drink, the air that we breathe and the land that we live on, for the people that we love.”

The event was organized entirely by Bowdoin students, and five of them—Carlos Campos ’22, Sebastian de Lasa ’22, Brendan Murtha ’21, Brianna Cunliffe ’22 and Rene Cisneros ’23—shared stories about their personal experiences with the effects of climate change, and discussed its human rights implications and its role in exacerbating inequality across the globe. They called for immediate awareness and action as they spoke on the various ways climate change impacted their lives.

“The simple principle of inertia does not only pertain to the study of physics. It is also a human condition that we are all cursed with,” said Cisneros. “Momentum in this movement must be built, it must be nurtured and it must be defended at all cost[s]. Our goal here, and in the protests across the nation today, is to pressure those in power to feel the same fear we feel today.”

Murtha shared a similar sentiment.

“The culprits of the crisis don’t want us to put our feet in the soil and treat our planet like the home it is, to know and love the non-human life alongside us,” he said. “The systems they depend on depend on a populace divorced from the land, and we have an obligation to disappoint them.”

U.S. Senate candidate Betsy Sweet also spoke to the crowd, and she emphasized the opportunity students face as “the first generation that is dealing with the immediate consequences of climate change, and … the last generation that can do anything about it.”

“Let today not be an end point, but be a beginning for us,” said Sweet. “A beginning of us standing up and taking action not just today but for every day between now and when the leaders eschew the money that’s being given to them and stand up for Mother Earth, and the people of this state and this planet to make sure that we save it.”

The rally was also attended by members of the broader Brunswick community, including Gerry Clancy and Pat Cannon. Clancy, who spent about 30 years in Alaska, said, “I’ve been aware of this global warming situation, and [it] has been kind of a focal point of my life for 40, 50 years.”

Cannon and Clancy appreciated the opportunity to gather together as a community for the protest.

“I’m here because I wanted to join with others,” said Cannon. “It’s right … and it’s really important that we all relate and make this, the change, happen.”

Following the rally, many students drove down to Portland to join the larger global climate strike taking place there.

Editor’s Note: Sebastian de Lasa and Brianna Cunliffe are members of Orient staff.

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