The kids are speaking.
City streets filled with youthful protesters Friday morning, and the world’s eyes turned to New York, as the global youth climate strike arrived in the Big Apple.
Thousands of young people packed Foley Square in Manhattan — so many that Chambers St. and parts of Centre St. surrounding the square were shut down and police closed off the exit from the Brooklyn Bridge.
Teenagers carting handmade signs packed into subways and buses, and stretched all the way across city bridges towards Foley Square, where protesters gathered before winding their way down to Battery Park to hear speakers including celebrity 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, whose weekly school walkouts inspired Friday’s protests.
Mayor de Blasio, newly exited from the 2020 presidential race, met the strikers at Foley Square.
Kids too young to travel alone marched in bands with adult chaperones to join the action, or staged their own protests on school grounds after a recent Education Department announcement prohibiting city teachers from attending the march left many younger children without suitable chaperones.
DOE told our school they couldn't go the the #ClimateStrike today, so the kids brought the strike to their school. The students were transcendent. Parents were crying. Felt like change is possible. #SchoolStrike #globalclimatestrike#fridaysforfuture #PS10SitIn @abarnardnyt pic.twitter.com/TKBwlgh9bf
“DOE told our school they couldn’t go [to] the #ClimateStrike today, so the kids brought the strike to their school,” Elizabeth Meister wrote on Twitter.
Protesters also gathered across the river in DUMBO for a Brooklyn climate strike. The strike falls on the two-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria’s destructive path through Puerto Rico, one of the increasing number of devastating storms scientists have tied to rising temperatures.
Dominique Welsh, a senior at John Adams High School in Queens, said she joined the march because “I wanted to do something to say ‘hey, our worlds is slowly dying and people need to get off their butts.’" Welsh gathered with about 40 other city students at the nonprofit Global Kids on Friday morning to prepare signs and chants for the march.
The fact that the city’s Education Department excused the absence for students didn’t change the fact she was planning to attend, but it did put her at ease. “I didn’t want to miss a school day of work,” she said.
Welsh and her peers turned their creative energy toward sign-making. “Winter isn’t coming - unless we change,” read one sign making tongue-in-cheek reference to the ominous refrain from HBO’s Game of Thrones.
Daniel Torres-Lopez, a senior at William Cullen Bryant High School in Queens with a booming voice, helped lead the group of teens in chants including “the oceans are rising, and so are we!”
After attending an event put on by the Council on Foreign Relations several years ago that laid out the grim environmental prospects as temperatures continue to rise, Torres-Lopez said he was moved to tears.
“Back then it was adults” talking about climate change, he said. “Now we have our generation caring about this issue.”
Police tell me the #Brooklyn #ClimateStrike spans more than the entire length of the 1.5 mile Brooklyn Bridge marching to joins 10s of 1000s of Manhattan kids.
ATTN Fellow Baby Boomers: We owe these kids our apologies & full support. pic.twitter.com/noNh1cdyn5