Over 100 protestors gathered at the corner of Church and Chapel Streets Friday afternoon to demand greater city cooperation on environmental justice issues and a Connecticut Green New Deal.
The demonstrators circled New Haven Green along College and Elm Streets before stopping on the steps of City Hall for speeches from local organizers. The march was led by the New Haven Climate Movement (NHCM), in collaboration with the Yale Endowment Justice Coalition (EJC), Sunrise New Haven and the Connecticut Youth Climate Collective. NHCM organizer Adrian Huq kicked off the event by highlighting that the ongoing climate crisis needed to be met with a greater response from city officials.
“We’re striking because it has been a whole year since the passing of the climate emergency revolution in New Haven,” Huq told the crowd. “The city of New Haven has yet to take on any of the key listed steps in the resolution.”
President of the Board of Alders Tyisha Walker-Myers and City Hall Director of Communications Gage Frank did not respond to the News’ request for comment.
The climate resolution referenced by Huq was passed last September but has not yet produced any tangible results, organizers say. Among the key demands of the resolution are the creation of green energy jobs and a city-wide Climate Emergency Task Force. One of the main goals of the protest was to demand immediate action on the resolution.
Young In Kim, a sophomore organizer from Wilbur Cross High School, explained that local officials, such as the Board of Alders, had promised to do better last year but had yet to follow through.
Protestors, including many other local high school students, held streamers and handmade banners with cautionary messages. One read: “THE OCEANS ARE RISING AND SO ARE WE.”
Sea level rise was highlighted as a particularly pressing concern for New Haven and Connecticut residents because of the many coastal communities located along Long Island Sound.
“We care about our homes in Connecticut, and are rightfully anxious about sea level rise,” Huq said.
Despite the significant number of protestors, several bystanders voiced their disagreement with the movement, heckling protestors as they passed. One of them called out “this happens every three months” and implied that climate change was not as important as other problems the city is currently facing.
But in response, Kiana Flores, a co-founder of NHCM’s Youth Action Team and a senior at Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School, underscored that the climate movement does not detract from other issues of social injustice in New Haven. She said that the climate movement is inherently intertwined with many of these issues.
“When your house isn’t energy efficient, not only are you wasting more energy and creating more carbon emissions, you have to pay more, your bills go up,” Flores told the News. “It’s all connected.”
At City Hall, protestors participated in a “die-in” by lying or sitting on the plaza steps while a nearby drum sounded 28 beats. Organizer Huq said the beats represented the 28 years of “governmental inaction” that have passed since the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992.
Chris Schweitzer, a member of New Haven/León Sister City Project and head organizer of NHCM’s protest, told the News that he hoped people in New Haven would “wake up [and realize] that we need serious investment in climate solutions.”
Schweitzer also emphasized the importance of concrete policy change in the city. He and others highlighted an electric future program, climate education and city support for the Connecticut Green New Deal as specific policies organizers were advocating for in the protest.
“It’s the right rhetoric all of the time — all this dialogue about emergency,” said Josie Steuer Ingall ’24, a member of the EJC. “But [we haven’t seen] the infrastructural investment that’s going to be necessary for decarbonizing our economy, for electrifying the city, for moving towards equitable responses to natural disasters, for making sure the actual work is being done.”
The Connecticut Green New Deal, also known as CT House Bill 5002, was passed on June 28, 2019.
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