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Students Take To Streets In Vermont And Across The Globe For Climate Strike

Two young men hold a banner ahead of a crowd during a rally by climate activists last year. Lawmakers are considering legislation that would allow private citizens to sue the state of Vermont if it doesn't reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Elodie Reed
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VPR File
Montpelier High School seniors Tristan Timpone, right, and Julian Stoller, left, carry a banner down Memorial Drive in Montpelier for Friday's "Empty The Schools" climate strike.

Student protestors carried banners, waved signs and chanted slogans as they led hundreds of climate activists from Montpelier High School to city hall Friday morning.

The "Empty The Schools" March for the Global Climate Strike was one of numerous demonstrations held around Vermont and the world in anticipation of the United Nations' Climate Change Summit.

Two photos of young people holding signs.
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LEFT: Isabelle, 16, Orange County. "It's always been a problem. Though I only recently really felt like I could do something about it." RIGHT: Lena Donofrio, 12, Montpelier Middle School. "Last year is when I really started to realize, like, oh, this is super important."

Montpelier Police estimated about 350 protesters took part in the march, which included a symbolic "die-in." Protesters lay down on Main Street and had their bodies traced in chalk, like crime victim corpses.

Thetford Academy eighth grader Asa Kelleher came to the march with a group of classmates.

"I hope that the people who are in charge of our country will see this and they’ll be like, 'Well maybe it's time that we should start thinking about this too,'" he said.

Two photos of young people holding signs.
Credit Elodie Reed / VPR
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LEFT: Eleanor Andersen, 8, Union Elementary School, left, and Esme Beaudry, 8, homeschooler in Montpelier, right. "The first thing I heard about was the polar bears and that they were going extinct and I wanted to try and help." RIGHT: Oscar Reo, 13, Thetford Academy. "I've always thought that it needs to stop."

Carmen Richardson-Skinder is a sophmore at Montpelier High School and one of the student climate action leaders who organized march.

"We are just making sure everyone knows that we aren’t going to take this lying down," she said. "And we’ve tried to cooperate with the system in the past and tried to just go through the right paths, and that hasn’t resulted in anything. So we’re starting to take it to a more disruptive level."

Two photos of young people, one holding a megaphone and another a sign..
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LEFT: Carmen Richardson-Skinder, 15, Montpelier High School. "It's time for some disruptive action." RIGHT: Fletcher Turner, 13, Montpelier Middle School. "I'm here to stop the climate change and to help our planet."

Student protesters said they were prepared to be arrested as they marched down Memorial Drive and Main Street on Friday, but Montpelier Police Chief Anthony Facos said no arrests were made.

Richardson-Skinder said more disruptive actions are being planned by groups such as the Extinction Rebellion and the Youth Action Alliance, which helped coordinate Friday's demonstrations in Montpelier, Burlington and other Vermont communities.

Two photos of young people holding signs.
Credit Elodie Reed / VPR
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VPR
LEFT: Ijaeda Dube, 14, left, Obediah DeLorey, 14, center, and Bryce Youk, 15, right, all Montpelier High School. "Eventually, if we keep on doing this, something will happen ... Eventually people will notice." RIGHT: Mary Sithavady, 15, Thetford Academy. "I don't like what the fossil fuel industries are doing to the climate and what they're doing to our planet."

The Extinction Rebellion has additional actions planned for next week to coincide with U.N. Climate Change Summit, including hanging banners off Vermont's interstate overpasses.

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