By Crescenzo Vellucci
Vanguard Sacramento Bureau
DAVIS/SACRAMENTO – Skipping class used to be something that got you in hot water. But this past Friday, to millions of students around the world – including those in Davis and Sacramento – skipping class was a matter of life and death.
Good defense lawyers could argue the students were not guilty because of a “defense of necessity” – that is, being truant was necessary to prevent a greater harm: the destruction of the planet.
Friday, millions of people, most of them young, rallied as part of a Climate Strike Friday in cities across the planet, and Davis and Sacramento were no different with more than a 1,000 people in each city – most of them students – striking.
In Davis, according to environmental organizer Nick Buxton, a Climate Strike March stretched for blocks from the Central Library to Central Park. Marlen Garcia, one of the key organizers of the action, shouted out the names of different schools with students who skipped class, including the schools of Cesar Chavez, Patwin, Holmes, DHS and De Vinci.
The throng honored the land on which they marched, that of the Patwin people, with Celia Murillo leading. And then a moment of silence to remember the victims of climate change – those in Texas, Puerto Rico, and Paradise.
Loud chants filled the air along the march route, including “Hey, hey, ho, ho, fossil fuels have got to go,” and “Our planet, our future” and “No Planet B,” while there was a block of animals that face extinction because of climate change, a giant extinction puppet and a block of solutions, including solar power, wind, people power.
The march stopped just outside the offices of the DJUSD and City Council where Emma Larson and Sumaya Buxton presented a letter to both councils as well as a marked rock so that they remember the climate strike and act on it.
(NOTE: SEE THE TEXT OF THE LETTER AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS STORY)
And there was street theatre, a play performed by schoolkids where animals went extinct, but protestors pushed back extinction to save planet and animals.
“We all here have a heartbeat that we share with each other. We share a heartbeat with communities in Texas suffering from intense flooding, with those suffering from Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas. We share a heartbeat with California wildfire victims who have been California’s climate refugees. We share a heartbeat with the trees and animals burning in the Amazon. We share a heartbeat with the indigenous and marginalized communities who fought so hard, and have often been the most affected,” said sixteen-year-old DHS student Amber Crenna-Armstrong.
She noted that “All these issues affect every single person, no matter where you live or who you are. We are all here today because we recognize the importance of life on this planet, we see the danger it is in and we have each chosen to take responsibility to protect and celebrate human, animal and plant life on Earth. Our Earth is 4.5 billion years old and in just the past 200 years we have sickened the Earth to the point of extinction
“We as youth are all too aware of the 10 year deadline our Earth has placed for a possibility to halt climate change. In 10 years, I will be 26. Many children here will be 15, 16, 20… it is devastating to see our future so threatened by such an addressable issue.
“We are calling to you – our parents, our community members, our government officials and especially corporations (who are most responsible for climate change) – for immediate recognition and action and against climate change. Until our local, national and global leaders address these demands, they should know that we are waiting and watching your actions. And know that here today, as a collective we are taking responsibility for our actions in order to protect our future,” she said.
AT THE STATE CAPITOL IN SACRAMENTO, about 1,000 people rallied, and politicians made the usual promises. But it was the youth who stole the show. And out-and-out challenged politicos.
“Dear politicians, I am terrified,” said Supriya Patel, 13, outside the Capitol’s West Steps. She’s the founder of the Sacramento chapter of Fridays For Future
“The climate crisis is right here and right now. The clock is ticking on the climate emergency. There is still time…(We) demand systemic change and transition away from fossil fuels. One way or another our movement will win,” she said, and quoting Swedish youth activist Greta Thunberg, 16 (a year ago she began skipping school Fridays to protest the government’s lack of action on climate crisis: “Change is coming whether you like it or not.”
“The decision is yours,” said Patel, speaking directly to the members of the legislature and Governor at the Capitol. “Will you speak up and protect your constituents, or will you choose bowing down to corporate interests, being spineless, and scolded by a 13-year-old girl,” Patel asked.
California officials did offer something, announcing Friday they had taken steps to help fighting the climate emergency. But it wasn’t nearly enough for the youth, and older, activists at the Capitol.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Friday he had signed an executive order directing the nearly $400 billion California Public Employees’ Retirement System and the $237 billion California State Teachers’ Retirement System to “shift” investments away from fossil fuels, he stopped far short of doing what climate activists are clamoring for – pure and complete divestment from all fossil fuels.
TEXT OF LETTER SENT TO DJUSD, CITY COUNCIL AND YOLO COUNTY BOARD
20 September 2019
Dear Davis Joint Unified Leadership, Superintendent Bowles and Trustees Poppenga, Pickett, Adams, DiNunzio and Fernandes,
The youth of Davis, following the lead of people all over the world, are declaring that we have a climate emergency on our hands. Our precious planet is dying, and everyone is being affected by it. We are writing this letter to you, the leaders of our community, demanding that you lead the change. Davis is a very environmentally aware city and we are grateful for that. However, we are not talking enough about these issues in school and some kids don’t even know what’s going on in our world. Not enough is getting done in our country and our world about these catastrophes and so we need cities, districts, states and countries to start doing more to lead the change.
This crisis is making animals go into extinction and they can never be regained. People in frontline communities are dying and losing their homes and, most importantly, we are killing ourselves and our Mother Earth! Citizens hear about these catastrophes as they happen and then they forget about them, so we need a way to remember! We need reminders, memorials, a physical memory of each disaster and each extinction so that we do not forget!
This is really frightening for us; we constantly hear about the impacts of climate change, we feel the earth changing, we breathe the smoke, and we cannot understand why the adults and the leaders are not stepping in and making changes. This climate crisis robs us of our childhoods. Instead of being able to enjoy this precious time, when we are relatively free of responsibilities, we now have to step into adult positions. As a matter of fact, we are standing up to adults. It is both hugely unfair and wrong that the children of the world feel forced to take a stand due to the neglect and irresponsible behavior of the adults in power and those leading our communities worldwide.
The leaders of the world are not taking the climate crisis seriously and some refuse to even acknowledge its existence. We need the caring and responsible adults in our community to hold these leaders accountable to take vital steps to save our planet. The change we so desperately need is not happening fast enough! So, we, the youth of Davis, CA, the parents, and our Mother Earth, demand that the adults running our community, our state, and our country, step up and face the greatest challenge of our time; climate destruction.
The City of Davis has made the commitment to Net Zero Emissions by 2030. We now demand that the district do the same. We also want the City to find new ways to reduce CO2 emissions now! We want to see steps being taken as soon as possible!
We must change the mental focus from “me” to “we”. We all live here together; we have to care for each other and for our Mother Earth. The sacrifice, if any, is worth it! We need to have a healthy home when we grow up and when our children grow up. Please help us make this possible! As Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “The time is always right to do the right thing.”
With that said, we have provided an “asks” list. This list is very specific about the expectations of our Davis community members. In accomplishing what is on the list, we will be taking vital steps towards becoming Net Zero. We need you to step up and do the right thing, for us and for the future children to come. If not for your own – then for the animals, plants, and people dying in our hands.
List of Asks for Davis Joint Unified School District
- Make our school district run on 100% clean and renewable energy through Valley Clean Energy ASAP.
- Currently the plans to build two new $9.2 million Multi-Purpose rooms at Birch Lane and Cesar Chavez do not include solar panels. Fix this! Consider ways to make the construction of new buildings eco-friendly!
- Upgrade energy inefficient buildings.
- Have tasty and meat-free meals 2 days a week on school campuses.
- Provide energy efficient public transportation to schools and around town.
- Create bus service to pick up kids from Woodland.
- Create bus or van service for charter schools that pull beyond neighborhood schools.
- Implement of bike education programs in every school.
- Improve bicycle paths around the city.
- Commit to Net Zero Emissions by 2030.
- Reduce single use plastics.
- Divest with the few very large financial institutions that underwrite fossil fuel projects.
- Improve bike parking on all campuses so kids bikes don’t get stolen.