Organizers estimated as many as 40,000 people showed-up to the recent Climate Strike march in San Francisco to call on federal leaders to take a bold stance against climate change.
Thousands of elementary, middle and high school students from around the Bay Area took the day off from classes to take part in the event, one of many happening worldwide as part of the Climate Change Week.
San Francisco’s rally, organized by the Youth vs. Apocalypse, was the largest in the region and drew crowds from throughout the Bay.
The demonstration began outside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office at the Federal Building at Seventh and Market streets and took off marching down Market Street, shutting it down by about 10:30 a.m. with crowds chanting, “Climate change has got to go” and “Climate justice now.”
The crowd marched to Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office at 1 Post St. and then on to the waterfront.
The young demonstrators are calling specifically on Pelosi and Feinstein to back the Green New Deal, an ambitious climate action plan introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, D-New York.
“I’m scared for our future, if we even have one,” said Otto, a 13-year-old student from San Francisco.
Caroline Hench, a high school student from Oakland, said, “I think it’s more important to protest against our climate than go to school because we won’t even be able to do that soon.”
Tracey Cook, also from Oakland said, “I think it’s really important the teens’ voice gets heard because a lot of times it gets put to the side. So it’s important we’re here to show we have a voice and be heard.”
About 300 students walked out of a handful of San Francisco public schools, district spokeswoman Laura Dudnik said.
Four hundred students walked out of Berkeley High School and took BART to the San Francisco action. Many students from Oakland schools were attending the rally on field trips.
The demonstrators also called on corporations like Bank of America and PG&E to divest from the fossil fuel industry and improve their own reliance on renewable energy sources.
Marchers protested at the Amazon Go store at 575 Market St. and called on online retail giant Amazon to decrease its dependence on the fossil fuel industry, allow workers to unionize and to also cut its alleged ties to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“Amazon is one of many climate polluters,” said Kung Feng, executive director of Jobs with Justice San Francisco. “It’s taking away the health of our planet, but it’s also taking away the health of its workers.”
“Amazon is one of our worst players against the environment, against immigration and against workers rights and we want to see a change from Amazon,” said Andrea Lee, who brought her 5-year-old daughter Aria to the march.
“I want her to feel powerful and see young people and teenagers leading this movement so that she knows it’s up to her next,” she said of her daughter.
The march also made a stop by the PG&E headquarters at 77 Beale St. to call on PG&E to move toward renewable energy and to choose safety over corporate profits, which the group Mask Oakland said is what caused a series of devastating wildfires in Northern California in 2018 and 2017.
“We’re stuck houseless and we can’t breathe,” said Quinn J. Redwoods, founder of Mask Oakland. “We’re sick of PG&E’s greed.”
As part of the demonstration outside PG&E, Mask Oakland distributed more than 1,000 masks to help demonstrators prepare for “future corporate-driven disasters,” Redwoods said.
The event-filled day culminated in a rally at Embarcadero Plaza with music and entertainment.
The group Youth Vs Apocalypse estimated between 30,000 and 40,000 people showed up to the mass event.
“I feel so hopeful for the future after today,” 16-year-old Isha Clarke, an organizer with Youth Vs Apocalypse said. “I believe we will win!”
The day included rallies throughout the region and worldwide, including at the University of California at Berkeley, where protesters packed Sproul Plaza. In the South Bay, students held a walkout at Diridon station in the afternoon.
Other walkouts and rallies were held in Cupertino, Fremont, Los Altos, Mill Valley, Oakland, Palo Alto, Richmond, Santa Rosa and in more cities across the region. There were rallies in 163 countries in all seven continents, including 800 in the U.S. alone. Tens of thousands of people participated in rallies in Berlin, London and New York.