December 12, 2019
By: Sabrina Patlan

People United Will Never Be Divided

Today there was a CAN- (Climate Action Network) and SustainUS-led demonstration before a high-level negotiation segment.

A demonstration which I somehow managed to find myself in the middle of. The protest began with demonstrators banging drums, cowbells, and blowing whistles. The demonstrators gathered, then transitioned to standing in circles. Demonstrators held banners and signs that said, “Keep your dirty hands out of our planet,” and chanted, “The people united will never be divided.”

As the media began to surround the circle around the demonstration, I was pushed into the middle. I felt the wave of passion, urgency, and frustration from the participants. To me, these movements appeal to all but especially to the youth, who feel lied to and defrauded by our ruling political classes. In fact, when I spoke to several of the demonstrators they stated that they had come to protest in order to reclaim a right to exist.

“At the moment, we are being denied a right to exist due to inefficient and toothless policies which unjustly emphasize financial and industrial growth above all else,” described a youth activist. Much attention was also focused on the question of climate justice because as described in my last blog, it is the ones who contribute the most who are the ones who feel the impacts the least.

While the chants continued to grow, police officers began making their way through the crowd, ripping badges from peoples lanyards, mine included.

It’s been incredibly encouraging to see firsthand how so many young people are united and engaged with what is happening politically. Being immersed in this particular protest gave me immense hope that change is indeed on the horizon. People in power want a “business as usual” model to continue and they are afraid of change.

However, the urgency of change is what these demonstrations and what these young activists are bringing to the limelight. To me, this experience of having the officer rip off my badge is a testament to the fact that we as demonstrators are having a huge impact. It is proof that our voices are being heard.

And it is proof that in light of that impact, those in power are trying desperately to silence.