Chicago climate strike

September 29, 2021

Fridays for Future rally in Chicago on Sept. 24, 2021. Photo by Franklin Dmitryev for News & Letters.

Chicago—A small but determined group marched near Millennium Park (the cops would not let us into the park itself) as part of the international climate strike on Sept. 24. We were demanding climate justice, not separated from rapid, comprehensive action to stem climate change. Many chants called for stopping the Line 3 pipeline that activists led by Indigenous people are resisting in Minnesota. (See “Native Americans challenge Line 3,” July-Aug. 2021 N&L.) Chants also demanded climate justice and an end to the extraction and burning of fossil fuels, as well as: “One solution: no pollution! One solution: revolution!”

The strike was called by Fridays for Future under the rubric of #UprootTheSystem. Participants came out in more than 1,500 locations around the world—for example, young people marched in Freetown, Liberia; thousands gathered in Buenos Aires, Argentina; 100,000 in Berlin, Germany. This was the first non-virtual global climate strike since the pandemic started and social restrictions hindered protest actions. Those restrictions still prevail in many parts of the world—especially in countries discriminated against in vaccine apartheid, like most or all of Africa—so that we have not yet returned to the level of September 2019, when 4 million people participated.

However, the urgency of the situation has only intensified, from the rapid succession of weather disasters to the mounting scientific warnings, and the radicalism of the movement has intensified as well. The message of the call by Fridays for Future for the Sept. 24 climate strike stressed the need for drastic emissions cuts by the Global North, combined with reparations from the colonizers to the oppressed countries, areas and people, together with an equitable “genuinely global recovery from COVID-19” as well as:

“Stop the violence and criminalization against indigenous peoples, small farmers, small fisherfolk, and other environmental and land defenders. Support the work they do.  Respect and listen to our defenders.”

Politicians are trying to deceive the world with fake promises and half-measures full of loopholes, but the young people in this movement are not falling for it. “We must remember that our liberations are tied together,” they declare. They will be satisfied by nothing less than the radical social transformation whose necessity has been demonstrated by both science and history.

–Franklin Dmitryev

The whole “#UprootTheSystem” narrative can be found at

Here is the bullet-point version:

Our message to world leaders:

  1. The Global North needs to cut emissions drastically by divesting from fossil fuels and ending its extraction, burning, and use. We need concrete plans and detailed annual carbon budgets with roadmaps and milestones to ensure we get to net-zero with justice and equity in the time needed to address climate change.
  2. The colonizers of the north have a climate debt to pay for their disproportionate amount of historic emissions and that starts with the increase of climate finance to implement anti-racist climate reparations, the cancellation of debts especially for damage caused by extreme weather events, and providing adaptation funds that serve the communities.
  3. Work towards a genuinely global recovery from COVID-19 by ensuring equitable vaccine distribution worldwide and suspending intellectual property restrictions on COVID-19 technologies. This is an essential step towards a global, green, and just recovery.
  4. Recognize the tangibility of the climate crisis as a risk to human safety and secure the rights of climate refugees in international law.
  5. Recognize the invaluable impact of biodiversity on indigenous communities’ lives and culture, and commit to make ecocide an international punishable crime.
  6. Stop the violence and criminalization against indigenous peoples, small farmers, small fisherfolk, and other environmental and land defenders. Support the work they do.  Respect and listen to our defenders.

Our message to everyone:

  1. MAPA (Most Affected Peoples and Areas) are unheard, not voiceless. They’ve been fighting for their present, not just their future. No one should be a prisoner of injustice. Don’t fight FOR MAPA, fight ALONGSIDE MAPA. MAPA are not just sad experiences, we must highlight their rich stories of resistance.
  2. MAPA countries are not “poor,” they are rich with resources but have been historically and systematically oppressed and kept from developing.  The Global North leaders have a climate debt to pay to humanity. Urgent climate action and assisting with adaptation is not an “honorable duty” or “solidarity” it’s reparations for the injustices high income nations and sectors have caused through their exploitation.
  3. MAPA voices must be amplified and centered in our fight for climate justice, otherwise even if we succeeded in limiting global warming to safe levels for life on Earth, marginalized communities would still be sacrificed and left behind, thus only part of the problem would be solved.
  4. Now more than ever, we have to join the masses and follow the lead of environmental defenders, workers, and those most ignored. Join in their struggle for decolonization, justice and autonomy. We must remember that our liberations are tied together.

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