By Organizing a Spirited Rally on Swarthmore on Sunset
By BILL BRUNS
Former Editor, Palisadian-Post
About 200 students and adults joined the worldwide global climate strikes Friday afternoon by demonstrating on the Starbucks corner at Swarthmore and Sunset, and along the crosswalk to the Village Green.
From about 4 to 5:30 p.m., the protesters held up hand-drawn posters and chanted slogans at passing motorists along Sunset. When drivers in larger vehicles (such as a Modelo beer truck and a cement truck) drove by and honked, cheers went up from the youth.
In addition to the large contingent of students from Paul Revere Charter Middle School, this reporter saw many students from Palisades Charter High School and from the local elementary schools, plus three siblings who attend Franklin Elementary in Santa Monica.
The chants from the crowd included “You Die of Old Age, We’ll Die of Climate Change,” “Hey, Hey, Ho Ho, Fossil Fuels Have Got to Go,” “The Earth’s on Fire and So Are We,” “This Is Dire, Planet’s on Fire”.
Poster statements ranged from “Change the System, Not the Climate” to “Respect Your Mother Earth” to “There’s No Planet B” to “Like the Oceans We Rise” and “You Breathe Air, You Should Care.”
The protest’s lead organizer was Eva Milan Engel, an 8th grader at Paul Revere, who obtained a special event permit from the City for the demonstration. Two traffic-control officers kept traffic moving safely past the protestors who stood along Sunset.
Eva, who lives in Pacific Palisades, told CTN afterwards, “I was overwhelmed with today’s turnout. Climate strikers came not only from my neighborhood, but also from Santa Monica, Topanga, Culver City and beyond (according to the RSVPs I received), and together, we participated in the largest youth-led global demonstration in our history! They all gave me hope that that we might have a chance to overcome the climate crisis we’re in.”
Izzy Gill, a junior at PaliHi and co-president of the Human Rights Watch Student Task Force chapter, told CTN: “Today was inspiring: Downtown LA was booming with chants of hope and unity, as was the Palisades. While marching through the streets of downtown and blocking traffic, I felt empowered and a newfound optimism for a bright future propelled me forward.
“I was lucky to continue protesting in my school’s neighborhood. Eva Engel led an accessible and empowering protest. Her passion and drive made this protest the success that it was. People had the opportunity to let their voices be heard and advocate for change through chants and creative posters.”
Gill continued, “Going forward, the advocacy will not stop. At Pali, we hope to continue educating about the climate crisis until it is solved. The HRW Student Task Force will be asking our science teachers to present about climate change at lunch and hopefully educate more students on what is going on with our world.
“I believe our passion for this issue and commitment to educating will inspire others at our school to fight with us,” Gill said.
(In Pacific Palisades, only a few protests like Friday’s rally have occurred in the middle of town: the PaliHi students protesting gun violence in February 2018, the Iraq War protests in 2003, the ‘Don’t Mall the Palisades’ rally to save the Business Block building in 1982; and a No Oil! rally at one point.)