Many thousands of people poured out into the streets of downtown Chicago on April 29 to defend the Earth and the very conditions that make life here possible from the destruction of climate change. It was cold and raining but the people’s anger and will to march could not be dampened. A wide range of organizations joined the march. The Party for Socialism and Liberation sent a contingent carrying a banner that read “for the Earth to live, capitalism must end,” and leading people in chanting “Money for the climate, not for wars!”
The march marked the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency, and comes not long after the recent attacks by the Trump administration on funding for environmental programs, including a $2.6 billion cut from the EPA—no doubt part of the effort to make room for his $54 billion increase in military spending. Trump has also made attacks against laws that regulate carbon dioxide emissions and the dumping of waste into rivers and streams.
Trump has tweeted that climate change is a hoax and invented by China. Demonstrators were also infuriated at Trump’s approval and advancing of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL Pipelines and the appointment of Scott Pruitt as the head of the EPA. Pruitt opposes laws that protect air and water quality, including regulations on the amount of mercury that coal corporations can release into the air. Pruitt also opposes abortion and LGBT rights.
At the beginning of the protest, the people gathered in Federal Plaza to hear speakers from many different organizations call for climate justice. Speakers from Chicago’s Southeast side denounced environmental racism; the way corporations store or dump harmful chemicals in and near communities of oppressed nationalities because it is more difficult for them to resist such actions due to their lack of representation in the capitalist political system. Speakers related lessons learned from the struggles in the East Side neighborhood against petcoke and other harmful chemicals being stored near residents, driving up rates for chronic illnesses among poor communities. One speaker denounced the US government’s funding of reactionary terrorists in Latin American countries. All of this was met with fiery cheers and applause from the massive crowd.
Around 1 PM, the crowd began to march, led by the oppressed communities most affected by the destruction of the environment. A speaker from such a community led the beginning of the march with the chant “rise up, get down, there’s revolution in this town.” The march ended just outside of Trump hotel where people began sharing their favorite anti-Trump chants.
We live in a time when climate scientists have proven that humanity is headed for annihilation if climate change is not stopped. Environmental destruction is currently accelerating every day, fueled by capitalism’s never-ending need for growing profits. Much of the damage already done is not reversible.
We should be rebuilding our society to be sustainable and making the crucial preparations for the droughts, floods, and other disasters that are likely already baked into our climate. Instead, we have to march by the thousands just to get our government to even admit that climate change is real. In the end, it is yet another testament to the fact that the U.S. government does not represent us. They do not know the problems we face or how to solve them. We do. It’s no too late. It’s time for us to stop waiting for Trump and the rest of the billionaires to address climate change. They’ve already shown that they are more than happy destroying the whole planet so they can make profit. We have to build our own independent power if we are going to save humanity and most other species on Earth. Join us in this struggle, join the PSL!