Students and Community Members March in Solidarity with International Climate Protests

Downtown Redlands bustled with roughly 500 students and community activists participating in last Friday’s Climate Strike, organized in part by the U of R’s Students for Environmental Action (SEA).


Activists came from across the Inland Empire brandishing signs reading “HEAL OUR WORLD,” “YOUR MISTAKE, MY PROBLEM,” and “UNITE BEHIND SCIENCE.” The activists remained on the sidewalks, but often found themselves incurring the honking of irritated commuters when crossing streets.  


“[Some] people don’t think protests matter,” Seattle native and first-year student, Ariel Cook said. “But community organizing is really important in showing solidarity with your fellow community members.”


After marching, protesters gathered in a square where artists and speakers, including eight year old Maritsa Castellanos, addressed the crowd with calls for action.  


Castellanos became a climate activist after she started noticing “what people were talking about” and was inspired to speak at the event by sixteen year Swedish Activist, Greta Thunberg. Saturday’s protests were a part of an international call to action by Thunberg, with “over 2,500 events scheduled in over 163 countries on all seven continents,” according to Vox.


“I went to the beach with my family during the summer,” Castellanos said. “I fell into the ocean and it was all brown and murky and trashy and I got scared.” 


Castellanos speech focused on climate change being “real” and “serious” in reference to those who do not think “it’s been here and happening.”

Tara Peek and Anyela Guzman, seniors at Redlands and co-presidents of SEA, worked with local organization, Redlanders for Climate Action, to increase youth participation in Friday’s protest. 


“[There] has not been significant change [in promoting environmental action] on campus in the time I’ve been here,” Peek said. “But there has always been a core group of people that are really passionate about it, and I think that core group is growing.”


Peek, a Johnston Center student with an emphasis in Communicating Pragmatic Environmental Policy, has been involved in SEA since her freshman year. According to Peek, there have been talks about not just increasing general attendance to environmental activities, but focusing on reaching out to men and minorities. 


“[It’s] something [the members of SEA] have been pushed on, ” Peek said. “[Participation] should be way more diverse than now [among] races, minorities and men. It’s not just a women’s problem, yet more [white] women seem to care about it.”


Also among the protesters was Rancho Cucamonga Resident, Alex Wexelberger. He attended the protest brandishing a large American flag, waving it as activists cheered and chanted, representing what he saw as the “real America.”


“The beautiful thing about America is that it’s not a set thing,” Wexelberger said. “Personally, I love my country and I want my country to proudly be a champion for conservation, and although it hasn’t been [a champion] so far, it can now.” 


Weekly protest will continue to be held Friday on the steps of San Bernardino City Hall.


“Our Voices need to be heard” Julia Potrero said. “People need to be a lot more conscious about their impact [on the environment].”


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All photographs contributed by Frank Cervantes.