Greta Thunberg Headlines L.A. Youth Climate Strike Urging Newsom to Reject Fossil Fuels
This afternoon Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg joined California youth for a downtown Los Angeles demonstration urging Governor Gavin Newsom to end oil and gas drilling in California.
The Youth Climate Strike event was attended by approximately 4,000-4,500 people. Though there were numerous youth in attendance – mostly high school age – the majority of the crowd was older.
The strike assembled at noon at the west steps of City Hall, spilling into Grand Park. After several speakers, the crowd marched down Broadway and rallied in front of the state office building at 4th and Spring, and then returned to City Hall.
Speakers consisted primarily of youth of color, from various groups including Youth Climate Strike Los Angeles, Youth for Environmental Justice (part of Communities for a Better Environment), Youth vs Apocalypse, STAND-L.A., and others.
Speakers called on Newsom to end fossil fuel infrastructure in California, taking Newsom to task for approving “more than two thousand new [oil] drilling permits” since becoming governor. Kevin Patel, Advocacy Director for Youth Climate Strike Los Angeles, addressed Newsom directly stating, “Your complacency is killing me, killing all of us” and urged the governor to “stop drilling us deeper.”
Specific demands included that he enact a safety buffer to protect frontline communities from oil drilling, stop issuing new fossil fuel permits, and oversee a just transition to clean energy. Speakers urged elected leaders to stand up for clean renewable energy, clean air, and the Green New Deal.
Those frontline communities include many southern California communities of color: South L.A., Southeast L.A. County, and the L.A. City neighborhood of Wilmington. Wilmington resident Nizgui Gomez spoke of her experiences with Youth for Environmental Justice in taking on pollution from the ports, refinery and 710 Freeway. Gomez stated that “she never felt so powerful” as when she and her colleagues won a lawsuit blocking oil refinery expansion in her community. She urged the assembled crowd to fight for healthy communities, free from fossil fuels.
Last on the program was Thunberg, who remarked on her recent trip to wildfire-ravaged Paradise, California. She urged the assembled crowd to fight for tomorrow “as if our lives depended on it – because it does” and called on them to be “the voice that speaks up for future generations, the biosphere” and “for ourselves.”