By Cameron Crowell /// Staff Writer
Thousands of Portlanders assembled at Tom McCall Waterfront Park on Sept. 21 in support of action against climate change in the PDX People’s Climate March.
The protest was part of an international coalition of marches two days before the UN was addressed by President Barack Obama at an emergency Climate Summit.
“We are here to provide basic non-violent peacekeeping for the event… completely independent of (the police),” Portland Peace Team volunteer Tom Hastings said.
While no violent action was apparent, the march did move from its intended route on the grass, to Front St. blocking traffic in both directions between the Saturday Market and Salmon St. The protest with generally positive and celebratory in their call for action, as people danced and shouted, “No more gas, none shall pass!” accompanied by multiple marching bands in attendance.
“They had a lot of speakers that may have gone on a little too long, but once we started marching people were pretty energized,” LC student Thomas McAulay (‘17), who came to the protest with a few friends, said.
Protesters ranged from the elderly to children, from political promoters of both, Governor John Kitzhaber and Senator Jeff Merkley, to Socialists and Anarchist groups.
“We emphasize, as veterans, that the military is one of the biggest polluters in the world using massive amounts of petroleum,” longtime environmental activist with Veterans for Peace Mel Chaddock said. “We inhabit an area that is geographically similar… it’s a good way to think of ourselves as something other than slaves to the federal government.”
The rally featured speeches by physicians, politicians, and religious leaders who all vocalized their beliefs that climate change and global warming is the most important challenge the world currently faces. The speakers took more moderate positions demanding for environmental legislation, like a Carbon tax, both at the local and federal levels.
“If we don’t take care of climate change all other issues are not going to matter… though I don’t necessarily think a rally like this will change anything, but it’s a start,” Green Peace volunteer Todd Burkholder said. “It is very difficult to get anything passed right now, at least at the national level.”
Interested in getting involved on campus? Join an LC student group like Students Engage Eco Defense (SEED).