Alexandria Fletcher-Flynn Herr
This intergenerational justice question is central in the demands of organizers; in England, organizers from Youth Strike 4 Climate are asking, among other things, that the government declare a climate emergency and that the age of voting be lowered to 16 so that youth can have more of a voice in environmental issues. That sense of urgency was reflected in the crowd gathered in Bonn square on Friday. “They’re only focusing on Brexit. It’s not that important,” said one 18-year-old protester named Shamira, “this is a bigger issue. It’s our future.” Another protester, Leo, aged 12, said he was skipping school to show that kids could have an important voice on climate issues: “It’s important to us because we have a future as well. All the adults will be gone by the time it’s a real problem.”
While some kids in the crowd were skipping school without the permission of parents or teachers, others were accompanied by adults. Luca, 11, was there with his father Neil, who said he hoped his decision to let his son skip school to protest would, “send a message to his classmates that it’s something they can all take part in.” His son was more straightforward. “I don’t want to die,” he said, with a weak laugh.
The protests this Friday were only one of many planned future protests; another day of action is planned globally for March 15th. Looking around the crowd, I got the sense that this was the only the tip of the metaphorical iceberg. There was something electric about these teenagers and children, united in their adolescent passion and energy. Near the end of my interviews of protestors, I struck up a conversation with an older protester who was attending with his daughter. We were cut off halfway through when his seven-year-old daughter, noticing the crowd was leaving the square to march down the road, abruptly snatched the sign from her dad’s hands. “You stay here,” she told him, “I’m marching now.”