Members of the community chanted, “When our earth is under attack, what do we do? We stand up, fight back!”
At noon on Friday at the Federal Building in Opelika, Alabama, a crowd protested to demand immediate action be taken on the issue of climate change. The local strike was part of a global protest.
A strike was also held Friday at noon on Auburn University's campus as part of the same global protest.
A crowd of about 140 supporters urged elected officials to agree to the demands posed by the U.S. Climate Strike.
Brandon Sinniger, a member of the East Alabama Climate Coalition, led chants to raise awareness and build community with like-minded folks.
“Whether you’re from Guatemala and the droughts caused by climate change are killing the crops you need to survive or you live in California and the wildfires have decimated your entire community, climate change is something that affects our entire planet,” Sinniger said.
Sinniger found empathy for the people whose names he’s never going to know and whose faces he’s never going to see that are being forced out of their livelihoods for profit.
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“This is why it is so important that we’re here today in solidarity with each other, making these connections, because when we fight climate injustice, we fight the injustice that has been created by climate change,” Sinniger said.
Russell Baggett, owner of 10,000 Hz Records, stood among dozens of others in his community on strike.
Some of the goals from the protest are a Green New Deal that seeks to transition the economy to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2030 and protect and restore 50% of the world’s land and oceans, including a halt to all deforestation by 2030.
“I am here to show support for those who are advocating for climate justice,” Sinniger said. “Hopefully this raises some awareness to show others like-minded that there are more of us.”
Director of Academic Sustainability Programs at Auburn University Nanette Chadwick said she was an official supporter of the event.
“My witness about climate change is that I have been studying coral reefs all around the world for the past 35 years,” Chadwick said. “I have seen coral reefs in the Caribbean bleach and die. [They] become ghost towns because of human-caused climate change.”
The Rev. Chris Rothbauer, the head minister for the Auburn Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, was one of the protesters.
“I am a person of faith, a follower of a path that demanded I be here today to make clear that apathy on this issue is immoral, that failure to act is criminal and that silence is the same as complicity,” Rothbauer said.
Rothbauer also reflected on his experiences in his high school's conservation club.
“While I was doing this, I did not know that politicians and lobbyists behind the scenes were finding every excuse in the book not to enact the systematic change that would actually make a difference,” Rothbauer said. “Recycling is not enough, conservation is not enough.”
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