Climate & Social Justice

Youth Climate Strike Hits Rhode Island Statehouse

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Students of all ages skipped school to join the protest. (Tim Faulkner/ecoRI News)

PROVIDENCE — Students from Rhode Island and southeast Massachusetts took the day off from school Friday and gathered at the Statehouse to join a global protest.

The March 15 Youth Climate Strike, part of a surge of protests by young people, was inspired by activists such as Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg. Local students cited Thunberg, 16, and her blunt comments and protests as inspiration. But they also credited their teachers, social media, and classroom studies for motivating them to take action against climate change.

“The youth can’t sit in silence and uncertainly. We must make our voices heard,” said Margaret Cavanaugh, a sophomore at Classical High School. “We should be screaming to the people in power to make changes.”

Some groups, such as eight students from North Kingstown High School, were accompanied by parents for the March 15 protest and received unexcused absences for missing school.

Students also came in groups and on their own from South Kingstown High School, Mount Hope High School in Bristol, Classical High School, and Old Rochester High School in Mattapoisett, Mass. Several local college students and some middle-school students also participated.

Sunrise Rhode Island and Climate Action Rhode Island organized the 90-minute rally. Joelye Land, a junior at North Kingstown High School, was a lead organizer. Similar Climate Strike protests were held in more than 200 countries.

“Spread the word and don’t let it stop here,” Land said through a megaphone to the some 250 attendees.

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