Budding environmental activists from across the five boroughs of New York City gathered in Midtown Thursday to plan what they hope will be the largest climate change march in history.
“The Women’s March On Washington has been dubbed potentially the largest protest in US history, but I’m committed to making the People’s March the largest,” said Linda Sarsour, one of the four national co-chairs of the Women’s March, who addressed the meeting.
“I care about racial justice and immigrant rights and reproductive rights and I want justice, but if I get justice and I don’t have a planet to enjoy my justice on? That doesn’t make sense,” she added.
Over 200 New Yorkers heard from Sarsour and climate justice activists Elizabeth Yeampierre, executive director of Uprose, a Puerto Rican community-based organization in Brooklyn, Paul Getsos, national coordinator of PCM, Samuel Blackwood, of Our Climate, and Roberto Borrero, of the International Indian Treaty Council.
Yeampierre urged activists to create a “leaderful” movement where power is shared across groups and at-risk people are placed at the forefront.
“The people least responsible for climate change are the ones who are going to be most impacted. We know who [Hurricane] Katrina disparately impacted, and who [Hurricane] Sandy disparately impacted. It’s people of color everywhere…that are most at risk. I’m not here to promote a march, I’m here to build a movement,” she said.
Following these speeches, activists split into groups to discuss how they could build for the march and what resources they’d need to impress the importance of climate justice on their local communities.
Activist Sarah, 50, from East Harlem, said of the meeting: “I think there are so many issues to fight under this administration, but this is one I’ve been involved in for many years, so it’s one I understand more deeply than some of the others and I feel there is something I can contribute. The environmental group needs to communicate better with a larger group of people.”