Providence celebrated, in conjunction with the People’s Climate March in Washington DC, by holding a rally on the Smith Street side of the Rhode Island State House where nearly 400 people gathered to declare their support for the environment and renewable energy and to declare their opposition to Donald Trump’s presidency and global warming. The rally in Providence was organized by the Rhode Island Student Climate Coalition, a “statewide alliance of students and youth working for a clean, safe, and just future for all.”
Organizers wrote that “Donald Trump is a threat to the future of our planet, the safety of our communities, and the health of our families.
“The new administration has attacked the hard-won protections of our climate, health, and communities, and the rights of people of color, workers, indigenous people, immigrants, women, LGBTQIA, young people, and more.
“We’ve fought back with a wave of protests larger than at almost any other point in history — let’s make sure that we mark the 100th day of his presidency with another mass action that stands up for our communities.”
The rally had speakers, chants and signs.
“I believe that the younger generations have strong voices,” said emcee Kaylynn Polley, an 18 year old high school senior from Newport. “especially when we care about things that are going to affect our own futures.” Polley plans to study environmental science next year at the University of Rhode Island.
Emcee Phoebe Roberts, a 14 year old from the Lincoln School in Providence, is in eighth grade. “This is my home and I will not let it be left behind,” said Roberts, “I want Rhode Island to be a place of leaders, a place where we don’t wait until Massachusetts does something to finally pass a bill.”
Priscilla de la Cruz, from People’s Power and Light, said “that it is absolutely crucial that we act on climate now and that we take bold and urgent action. But it’s also just as important we insure that clean energy is accessible and affordable to everyone. That is critical.”
Elizabeth Hoover, Manning Assistant Professor of American Studies and Ethnic Studies, Brown University spoke about her experiences at Standing Rock, and the experiences of frontline communities as the climate changes due to global warming. “If you currently keep your funds in a bank that supports the Dakota Access Pipeline and other dirty infrastructure projects, I encourage you to remove your money from that bank, like Citizens Bank… and also to voice your opposition to dirty infrastructure projects that are crossing over indigenous land, underwater, that’s going to impact anybody who drinks water.”
“It’s not that we don’t have the ideas, we got the ideas,” said RI State Representative Aaron Regunberg (Democrat, District 4, Providence). “There are tons of policy proposals in the General Assembly that could help us get on the track to be at one hundred percent clean energy by 2050… There’s a lot of work to do and not a lot of time to do it, but the path is there. A better future is possible. We didn’t ask for this, we didn’t start this, but mark my words: We can and will finish it.”
“Will we take a step to finally alter the system and actually address the root problem and say, ‘Capitalism has screwed us!'” said Michael Araujo, executive director of RI Jobs with Justice, “And admit it! And not lie about it anymore.”
“Global warming is real. The ocean is rising,” said State Representative Marcia Ranglin-Vassell (Democrat, District 5, Providence), “and as part of the Resistance, we’re going to stand up to Donald Trump’s war on climate and on progressive policies that seek only to save this Mother Earth.”
Adnan Adrian Wood-Smith, Associate University Chaplain for the Muslim Community at Brown University quoted from the Koran, explaining that Muslims and all humanity, has an obligation to be caretakers of the Earth. “This is the message that we were given as Muslims, and I’ve come here to apologize on behalf of all us that I’m sorry, we have failed to carry that forward in its entirety. I’m sorry, on behalf of our community.
“But, I’m here with a promise that we’re waking up. That we, as Muslims in the Rhode Island community, we’re waking up, realizing from all this mobilization, ‘You know what? We let some things slide in terms of our commitment to our tradition… But we’re waking up… We need to be serious about our commitment to all of humanity.”
The People’s Climate March has mobilized for six key items:
- Advance solutions to the climate crisis [that are] rooted in racial, social and economic justice and committed to protecting front-line communities and workers.
- Protect our right to clean air, water, land, healthy communities and a world at peace.
- Immediately stop attacks on immigrants, communities of color, indigenous and tribal people and lands and workers.
- Ensure public funds and investments create good paying jobs that provide a family-sustaining wage and benefits and preserve workers’ rights, including the right to unionize.
- Fund investments in our communities, people and environment to transition to a new clean and renewable energy economy that works for all.
- Protect our basic rights to a free press, protest and free speech.