A 30°C heat makes a great day for a protest. Not only is it just above the long-term average temperature for this month and state (March, Western Australia), but heat brought out the best of the crowd. We yelled until our voices cracked and water bottles ran dry, and only 9 hours prior I was busy embroidering some lyrics by The Coup’s Guillotine in the back of a new button-up: “We got the guillotine / you better run”—unfortunately, I didn’t get to the second line before I fell asleep at the needle.
The chants were rehearsed on St George’s Terrace in between the church and Stirling Gardens. We practised shouts like “Planet, not profit! Scomo, get off it!”, and “What do we want? Climate justice! When do we want it? Now!” Children sang around and to the crowd, and attendees waved brightly-coloured flags between the wind turbines. Then we marched off, stomping down the street and enjoying the shade of tall buildings when we came across them.
At one point I bumped into a man who accepted my apology with the comment that it always happens at these kinds of events, and that he’s been doing this kind of thing since the ’60s.
“It sucks that we still have to march for this stuff.”
“It’s good that so many people showed up,” he smiled.
So much has changed since then but, then again, maybe it hasn’t. The kinds of issues we need to fight for have definitely transformed, but the ways in which we go about affecting change and getting our “leaders” to listen to us has not. We’re still asking the same people to change for us.
They still don’t listen until we knock on their door, shouting and waving cardboard slogans.
Speaking of cardboard, there were some excellent designs floating around during the march, raised high, adding a bold contrast of bright colours against the blue sky.
Eventually, we staged sit-ins near Elizabeth Quay station, shortly following which a moment of silence was held for the victims of climate disasters like flooding and exacerbated natural disasters.
The first sit-in.
A moment of silence.
As I’m writing this, article after article after article is being published on the international youth movement for climate justice. SBS and The West wrote on the international and Perth strikes with some quotes from the children at the event, one 11-year-old telling the latter that “this is a lesson in itself”. The Science Channel published a piece called ‘The Terror of Climate Change is Transforming Young People’s Identities’, wherein they write “the strikes represent more than frustration and resistance. They are evidence of an even bigger process of transformation.” They list the ways in which this global challenge affects us personally, the ideas it challenges:
- “Humans are, or can be, separate from the non-human world;
- individual humans have significant control over the world and their lives;
- if you work hard, you will have a bright future;
- your elected representatives care about you;
- adults generally have children’s best interests at heart and can or will act in accordance with that; [and]
- if you want to be a ‘good person’, you as an individual can simply choose to act ethically.”
Prime Minister Morrison says to stay in school, and I bet these kids would relish the day they could worry about arithmetic instead of the apocalypse.