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Miami Youth Climate Strikers: 'We're Starting A Revolution"

Gabriela Camacho WLRN
More than 300 protesters attended a climate rally outside Miami Beach City Hall Friday.

Miami youths frustrated with the pace of efforts to address climate change have a message for adults: We're starting a revolution.

At a rally outside Miami Beach City Hall on Friday — one of dozens around the state and hundreds across the nation — protesters waved signs, chanted and expressed outrage at the lack of action. The rally was organized by local students and adults and part of the strikewithus.org effort sponsored by about 300 organizations.

"Today is monumental," said Delaney Reynolds, a University of Miami student who started the Sink Or Swim project to draw attention to climate change in middle school. "Kids understand now more than ever their voice actually matters."

With a pep rally feel, protesters chanted and came armed with signs. Two quoted Dr. Seuss's Lorax. One said simply: "It's f---ing hot." 

In other parts of the world, crowds were far larger. Organizers in Australia estimated 300,000 participated in rallies. In Berlin and London, numbers reached 200,000, according to the New York Times. Police in New York estimated 60,000 protesters showed up, the paper said.

The protests coincided with a visit by teen activist Greta Thunberg, the Swedish student who has attracted widespread attention after she walked out of school to protest outside her country's parliament a year ago. Thunberg arrived in the U.S. last week — sailing from Europe to reduce her carbon footprint — and has made appearanes in New York and Washington. This week she testified before Congress.

Students who rallied Friday complained adults are too complacent about climate change.
Credit Gabriela Camacho WLRN

At Friday's Miami Beach protest, admiration for the teen was evident. 

"This generaation is very educated and very impowered," said Matthew Ramos, 16, who attends iMater Academy. "If we unite we can definitely change the world."

Adult organizers, including the Cleo Institute and the Sierra Club, helped pull together Friday's events. But organizers said the students played a lead role. 

"They're going to be the ones that create future conversations, future awareness," said Jamal Wilson, a marketing coordinator for the University of Miami's business school who attended to see the teens in action. "They're going to be the ones that deal with what actually happens."

The message they had was one of urgency.

"For starters, at least we need to declare a climate emergency," said Valentina Carrion.

Many protesters came armed with their own signs.
Credit Gabriela Camacho WLRN

While South Florida schools did not excuse students to attend the event — a Broward teen was suspended for a day after he distributed fliers saying the district signed off on attending — students said their parents were happy for them to skip classes. 

"My mom in fact said I'm so happy you're doing this," said Daniel Lara, a freshman at the Cushman School. "She would prefer me to protest instead of going to school because she thinks that's the best thing to do."

Jenny Staletovich is WLRN's Environment Editor. She has been a journalist working in Florida for nearly 20 years. Contact Jenny at jstaletovich@wlrnnews.org
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