climateprotest

Students join together with signs and chants on Wescoe Beach to spread awareness of climate change. 

Multiple students, staff, faculty and Lawrence residents stood on Wescoe Beach Friday afternoon to advocate for climate change awareness.

Activists stood along the staircase in front of Wescoe and on benches on Wescoe Beach with signs reading, “I’d rather burn in hell than on Earth” and “Planet over profit.” It was the first of two events hosted in Lawrence to advocate for climate change awareness.

The protest was done in coordination with climate strikes going on across the the United States. Locally, it was organized by the Sunrise Movement in Lawrence and the Wakarusa Group of the Kansas Sierra Club.

“We only have 12 years to reverse climate change essentially before the tipping point,” said Matt Dunn, president of the KU chapter of the Sunrise Movement. “KU needs to take action and to work to certainly ensure there’s a world for their alumni.”

Melani Keith, a junior studying to be a special education instructor, came to the protest with three friends she invited.

“We have all this evidence that this is happening, and we’re shortening the timeline of our existence on this beautiful Earth,” Keith said. “We honestly have no reason to worry about anything else if we’re literally destroying our future.”

Riley Cole, a junior studying psychology, tagged along with Keith. She said she wanted to come today to help make a difference.

“Why are we in school if we’re not even sure if we’ll make it?” Cole said. “Why am I sitting here busting my ass? I might as well advocate for something that matters.”

Joe Douglas, 79, is an alumnus from the University who visited Friday. He doesn’t teach at the University, but he wanted to come back to protest after beginning to follow climate change activist Greta Thunberg.

“Climate change is the greatest threat to the world and our civilization,” Douglas said.

At the end of the rally, Dunn passed around a petition that pushed for Lawrence to declare a climate emergency. Multiple students at the rally came up to sign it.

A climate change rally will take place at 5 p.m. today in South Park.