Massive crowd gathers for climate protest in downtown Eugene

Students will be joining others in a worldwide demonstration Friday.

Posted: Sep 20, 2019 7:50 AM
Updated: Sep 20, 2019 6:32 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- A massive crowd gathered in downtown Eugene Friday afternoon for a climate protest.

At noon on Friday, students marched from South Eugene High School to participate, walking to the rally at the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza at Oak Street and 8th Avenue.

After the rally there will be a meeting at Harris Hall, where elected officials are invited to question a panel of youth climate advocates.

Climate strike organizers said people in 117 countries worldwide have pledged to walk out of schools, jobs and homes to participate in the climate rally.

Eloise Parish-Mueller is a youth leader in the group Sunrise Movement, a group tasked with fighting global climate change, and she says the time for change is now.

"I think youth can really bring leadership and voice to this," she said. "We didn't really have the chance to create some of the systems that are in place now that are keeping things the way they are, and so we want a voice in changing how things are going forward."

Local school district officials said the students who leave school to participate in the rally will be marked tardy or absent.

Eugene School District 4J posted on Facebook: "4J Schools do not organize or endorse walkouts or other demonstrations that disrupt the learning environment. However, students are not prevented from leaving their high school or middle school."

The Facebook posting also said "students' attendance is recorded accurately with an unexcused absence, as it would be if they chose to be absent for other reasons."

Jenna McCulley of Springfield Public Schools said: “We don’t support any student walkouts for any reason. We want students present for educational time. Any students who elect to participate in any outside activities will be marked absent, consistent with any other absence. We don’t treat walkouts differently from any other absence, because we believe students should be present during class time.“

Pat McGillivray of Bethel School District said: “Students who are not in class will have an unexcused absence unless indicated otherwise. If they leave class in the middle of a class or show up late, they will be marked tardy. They will have an unexcused absence or a tardy.”

But students arent the only ones who participated. 

Matthew Yook is a father and he says he came here with his son because it is important to impart on him the gravity of a situation like this.

"(My son is) getting into fourth grade now and getting excited about chemistry, biology, and other sciences - and so seeing this as a beautiful segue to help kids learn about processes and actual science."

The strike Friday was a kickoff for a full week of events and actions demanding "leaders take bold, transformative action to address the climate crisis."

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