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'Climate Strike' Rallies In Bay Area, Worldwide Urge Action On Climate Change

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Organizers estimated as many as 40,000 people showed-up to the Climate Strike march in San Francisco on Friday to call on federal leaders to take a bold stance against climate change.

In San Francisco, demonstrators flooded Market Street, where they densely packed the wide street for blocks and blocks. At the University of California at Berkeley, they filled Sproul Plaza with university students joining middle schoolers fearful for their future.

"We're about 10 years behind in terms of the actions that we should be taking to stop climate change," said Sadie Scott, 17, of San Francisco. "And so one day of disruption to change the entire planet feels like not even close to the risk of the price we should be paying for all of our actions and the contributions we have made toward ending it."

San Francisco's rally was the largest in the region and drew crowds from throughout the Bay, including many striking students.

About 300 students walked out of a handful of San Francisco public schools, district spokesperson Laura Dudnik said.

"This is a really powerful experience for me and for the kids," said Steve Spaid of San Francisco who brought three 3rd graders to the parade: Sophia, Leo and Olivia with him. "I'm just glad to see it so big, I know it's going global so we are pretty charged to be here."

Four hundred students walked out of Berkeley High School and took BART to the San Francisco action. Many students from Oakland schools were attending the rally on field trips.

Students participating said that dire forecasts of rising global temperatures made them fearful of the consequences if there is not immediate action.

"I'm scared for our future, if we even have one," said Otto, a 13-year-old student from San Francisco.

Caroline Hench, a high school student from Oakland, said, "I think it's more important to protest against out climate than go to school because we won't even be able to do that soon."

Tracey Cook, also from Oakland said, "I think it's really important the teens' voice gets heard because a lot of times it gets put to the side. So it's important we're here to show we have a voice and be heard."

The protesters gathered Friday morning near House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office at the Federal Building at Seventh and Market streets and took off marching down Market Street at about 10:30 a.m. chanting, "Climate change has got to go" and "Climate justice now."

They marched to U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein's office at 1 Post St.  and then marched on to the waterfront.

Organizers for the San Francisco action said that they are calling on Pelosi and Feinstein to back the Green New Deal, an ambitious climate action plan introduced by U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, D-New York.

They are also calling on corporations like Bank of America, Amazon and PG&E to divest from the fossil fuel industry and improve their own reliance on renewable energy sources.

Marchers protested at the Amazon Go store at 575 Market St. and called on Amazon to decrease its dependence on the fossil fuel industry, allow workers to unionize and to also cut its alleged ties to U.S.  Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"Amazon is one of many climate polluters," said Kung Feng, Executive Director of Jobs with Justice San Francisco. "It's taking away the health of our planet, but it's also taking away the health of its workers."

"Amazon is one of our worst players against the environment, against immigration and against workers rights and we want to see a change from Amazon," said Andrea Lee, who brought her 5-year-old daughter Aria to the march

"I want her to feel powerful and see young people and teenagers leading this movement so that she knows it's up to her next," she said of her daughter.

Walkouts and rallies were also planned in Cupertino, Los Altos, Oakland, Palo Alto, Richmond and in more cities across the region. Students at American High School and Washington High School in Fremont both had rallies planned Friday.

About 1,000 protesters, the majority of them of high school age, descended on San Jose City Hall on Friday for a rally to call for urgent action on climate change.

The local protesters demanded "climate justice now," chanting as they marched from Diridon Station to City Hall and calling on lawmakers to fight for "planet over profit" and adopt a Green New Deal, first proposed by U.S. Rep. Alexadria Ocasio-Cortez.

The students came from throughout Santa Clara County and Silicon Valley, after ditching class at Monta Vista, Harker, Homestead, Lee, Palo Alto and Mountain View high schools, among others.

"It sucks to see all this talk about saving the planet while nothing has been done the whole time I've been alive," said Toby Estrada, an 18-year-old Lincoln High School student in San Jose.

His fellow high school colleagues expressed similar beliefs.

"We're not going to be the apathetic generation that watches as our world collapses," said 15-year-old Helen Deng of San Jose, a Youth Climate Strike organizer who spoke at Friday's rally at city hall.

Some local lawmakers, like San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, attended Friday's rally to support their young constituents.

"This is beautiful," Liccardo said. "Thank you for reminding us what democracy looks like."

He reminded them that the city of San Jose is pushing new standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for all new buildings starting in 2020.

Liccardo also mentioned San Jose's participation in Saturday's "Coastal Cleanup" trash pickup event happening throughout the Bay Area.

State Assemblyman Ash Kalra, D-San Jose, reminded the students that they can get involved in climate-saving efforts by registering to vote and engaging in the upcoming elections.

"The fight that we're up against, as many others have said, is the fight of our lifetimes," Kalra said. "When the people rise up, they can change what's happening within the walls of power."

Striking students in Marin County gathered at 9 a.m. at the San Rafael City Center at 1002 Fourth St. In Mill Valley, students gathered downtown at 11 a.m. at Depot Plaza at 87 Throckmorton Ave.

In Sonoma County, students gathered at the Central Quad Santa Rosa Junior College at 9:30 a.m. and plan to march to a noon rally at Courthouse Square in downtown Santa Rosa.

Other rallies were held across the nation and world, with large rallies in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and South America.

Actions were planned in 150 countries, including 800 in the U.S.  alone. Tens of thousands of people participated in rallies in Berlin, London and New York.

The events were scheduled to continue through next week.


© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

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