ASHLAND, Ore. — A crowd of adults and families, many of them holding signs, cheered and clapped as students streamed toward Ashland's Downtown Plaza to join them in rallying for climate action. The demonstration was one of hundreds that occurred in cities around the world on Friday, part of a global "climate strike."
"The goal of today is just to keep raising our awareness. Most people aren't aware of what is happening now. And it's now. We need to start addressing these things. It is a crisis and we have to do it now," said Russell Knapp, one of the adult protesters who gathered in Ashland before the students arrived.
To the thousands of Oregonians striking today: I hear you, loud and clear. And I stand with you.— Governor Kate Brown (@OregonGovBrown) September 20, 2019
I am committed to taking bold action on climate change. I am committed to protecting your future. And I won't back down. #ORClimateStrike pic.twitter.com/PzrKVdAa7E
Student activists prepare to deliver chants and speeches after arriving at Medford's Vogel plaza.
Adult activists wait to greet students walking from Ashland High School in the Downtown Plaza.
After walking out of school and streaming into Ashland's Downtown Plaza, students led the crowd in songs, gave speeches, and shared poetry about climate change and the need for action.
"Let's just say it was very energetic . . . because there was huge mob of highschoolers that were all chanting with signs and stuff. It was all a lot of energy," said Griffin, a student who came to join the rally.
A similar scene unfolded in Medford's Vogel Plaza, with adult demonstrators greeting a group of student activists as they arrived. The students then delivered speeches through a megaphone and led the crowd in a series of chants.
Even larger crowds — numbering in the hundreds and thousands — gathered in Eugene and Portland. In Eugene, events took on something of a festival atmosphere with live music and booths.
In Portland, a great mass of demonstrators took to the streets, marching across the Hawthorne Bridge from a rally in the city's downtown area to a second location at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI).
Back in Ashland, as in many other locations around the world on Friday, the focus was on getting politicians and world leaders to take notice — and take action. Many signs pointed toward a "Green New Deal" for Oregon, if not the ambitious federal plan first proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
"It is going to be a different world and a very ugly world because our species, we're just destroying too many critters as we destroy our atmosphere," said Knapp, who attended the Ashland rally with his family. "Especially for the younger people. They need a future."