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Home / Sunrise LA Youth

Pasadena Youth Take Climate Protest Virtual & Target Senator Feinstein

virtual climate strike against Feinstein
Students in Pasadena continue their fight for climate change amid COVID-19 restrictions and take their movement virtual to target government officials, like Senator Feinstein, outside local level. – Photo by Alex Cordero / Beacon Media News

Local youth activists did not let the global pandemic discourage their plans to demand that government leaders support the Green New Deal (GND) and other policies regarding the environmental welfare of humanity during Earth Day 2020.

Ozzie Simpson, student lead coordinator of Sunrise Sequoyah and founding member of Sunrise LA Youth, kicked off the week last Monday by being on the front lines of his organization’s first virtual protest titled #GetGreenFeinstein.

Due to COVID-19 many people are turning to new avenuesto hold events and still follow preventative guidelines such as socialdistancing and staying home.

In the past, local youth have advocated for a greener future on the streets of Pasadena — engaging large crowds in climate strikes and getting the attention of local government leaders through rallies and protests.

I asked Simpson how he was able to come up with a virtual strategy to target U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein.   

“In February, a few friends and I attendedSunrise’s high school summit in D.C. where we got trained to take action onEarth Day. While we couldn’t go to the streets for our action (which was theoriginal plan), the idea for a virtual office takeover came out of a group of Californiastudents who went to the summit who still wanted to target an elected officialon a larger-than-local level. After getting the idea from that group, we workedwith the new Sunrise LA Youth hub to put together #GetGreenFeinstein.”

The virtual call to action strategy consisted ofseveral techniques to capture Feinstein’s attention: flooding her office withgood old fashioned phone calls from across the nation, hitting her social mediaaccounts with a storm of tweets and responding to Feinstein’s latest posts viasocial media.

Any last minute changes to a plan can bedifficult for anybody at any age, I asked Simpson to identify the mostchallenging part about planning a protest this year.

“The biggest challenge was putting togethersomething so quickly. We originally started to plan our week of action forEarth Day in late February, and had to pivot our plans in the last month. Weactually weren’t really sure if we would do anything for Earth Day, besidesparticipating in national actions, when the stay-at-home orders started to takeplace, but over the past couple of weeks students from around L.A. wereinterested in taking action on a more local level.”

Simpson continued, “Another challenge was gettingpeople to participate. When doing a physical action, it’s a lot easier to getpeople engaged and wanting to join, mostly because the action is very visibleto the public. With a digital action, it’s very hard for it to get seen withoutsignificant exposure on social media (which we luckily got a little bit of).”

Per Simpson, about 60 people signed up to participatewith him last Monday and although there was more participation on a campaignfrom Northern California, their virtual protest reached over 20,000 people viasocial media. 

Besides the normal green policy demands localyouth have been advocating for, this time they also included healthcare for all,investing in a plan to be prepared for the next crisis and direct relief foreveryone impacted by COVID-19 as part of their demands to Senator Feinstein.  

“We incorporated the People’s Bailout as a demandbecause we felt like just asking for a Green New Deal or for the Senator torecommit to the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge would be tone-deaf during a timewhen millions of people are experiencing hardship and unemployment due to thecoronavirus pandemic.”

Simpson expounded, “The government’s stimuluspackages are doing the opposite of what they should be by bailing out largecorporations instead of ordinary people who need help the most — which is whatthe People’s Bailout calls for. While we definitely think that the Green NewDeal could help solve some of the current problems — such as providing millionsof good paying jobs, universal healthcare, and more — it’s often seen as only asolution to the climate crisis, and the COVID-19 crisis is just as important ifnot more important right now.”

The official demand to Senator Feinstein for a People’sBail Out read as follows:

“We need a People’s Bailout, short-term economicrelief and support for people and community health. People are struggling nowand need immediate government support. COVID-19 is the biggest disruption toour society that we have faced in a generation, and the American people arelooking for answers. We know what needs to happen: a stimulus package in linewith the five principles of a People’s Bailout and a longer-term recovery tocreate a society that works for everyone. It is the role of our movement andhubs to bring the vision of this post-pandemic future to the public.”

Local young activists are still waiting for anyformal response from Senator Feinstein’s office but Simpson stays fairlyoptimistic and expects one soon.

Simpson’s next focus is to aid the Sunrise LAYouth attract as many middle and high school students to join the climatemovement and be ready to take their protests back to the streets when it issafe to do so again.

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