Loyola students joined activists from across Chicago and the world Friday afternoon to protest climate change inaction.
The protest, organized primarily by youth activists and students of the Global Climate Strike coalition, attracted approximately 6,000 to 10,000 people in downtown Chicago, many of which were students, according to organizers.
Climate change — the man-made warming of the Earth — poses a threat to millions of people around the globe, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s website.
President Donald Trump and his administration have expressed skepticism of climate change, announcing the rollback of several environmental regulations. Polls show 64 percent of Americans say they disapprove of Trump’s views on the issue.
Protesters chanted as the group gathered at Grant Park (337 E. Randolph St.). Protesters then marched down Van Buren Street to Federal Plaza (230 S. Dearborn St.) where environmental activists and local politicians spoke.
Organizations such as the International Indigenous Youth Council, State Senator Robert Peters of the 13th Senate District and Kina Collins, an activist and candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives for Illinois’ 7th District, all gave speeches to the crowds of protesters.
“This is what an organized Chicago looks like!” Peters said to the crowd. “I stand in solidarity … and we will win!”
Dr. Sasha Adkins, an environmental health professor at Loyola who uses they/them pronouns, led a group of about 10-15 of their students to the climate strike.
“I would really love if [students] move from despair to empowerment,” Adkins told The Phoenix. “Being here … will help us feel strong and work together to make a difference.”
Not all their students were able to attend, but those who did marched and held signs chanting phrases such as “Big oil you suck, you sold our future for a buck!” and “Our future, our choice, let’s raise our voice.”
Several campus organizations — including the Student Environmental Alliance and the Loyola branch of Amnesty International — led groups to the protest.
Andrew Taylor, a Loyola junior studying political science, said it’s important to show people in power everyone cares about climate change.
“There are people who care about what’s going on and care enough to actually be here,” the 20-year-old said.
Paola del Rincon Martinez, a sophomore Loyola student, said attending Friday’s protest was “her duty.”
“[Climate change] affects us all,” Martinez, the 19-year-old undecided major said. “Coming out here today was something I knew I had to do.”
She said systematic change must happen from government officials, but the protest is a good start.
Aidan Lane, a senior at New Trier High School in Winnetka and an organizer with the Illinois Youth Climate Strike, implored government officials to take action against climate change.
“I beg of you to do what is necessary to protect our planet,” he said while addressing the audience.
Also among the crowd of students and protestors was a small group of men clad in habits, representing a community of Franciscan brothers — a Catholic religious order — who marched with the strikers.
“As a Catholic and a Franciscan, care of creation is our concern,” said Br. Josh Critchley, OFM, one of the members who marched. Critchley cited Pope Francis’ encyclical and his Franciscan order as reasons for his support of the climate strike.
St. Francis of Assisi, founder of the order, is the Catholic patron saint of animals and ecology, according to the Vatican.