This article is a participant perspective from the Peoples Climate March, Los Angeles (September 20, 2014) – Editors
The Los Angeles “People’s Climate Change LA: Building Blocks Against Climate Change” was held on Saturday, September 20, 2014 on Wilshire Boulevard. SoCal Climate Action Coalition 350 (www.AgainstClimateChange.org) organized the public event without applying for a permit. The turnout for the event amounted to hundreds of participants and was enthusiastic and interactive: this was a significantly lower turnout than predicted in the thousands.
LA activists were invited to participate via social media announcements using Facebook and Twitter with #ClimateActionLA. The stated purpose of the Climate Action LA was to demonstrate solidarity with the New York City Climate Change March (September 21, 2014), raise awareness using direct action in a public sphere, and to challenge the status quo of climate change inaction in Southern California.
A wide variety of individuals and groups participated in a multi-racial, mostly middle and upper class setting, with some working class people, immigrants, youth, feminist, eco-socialists, workers, artists, leftists, and local independent activists present. There was not a strong union presence at the event, though a few individuals with union ties attended. There was a strong youth presence. Some parents brought their children who made signs at the events denouncing climate change. A few teenage boys made signs and rode their skateboards while verbally encouraging people to use environmentally friendly transportation including: public transit, bikes, skateboarding, walking, carpools, and electric cars.
Activists verbally and visually denounced capitalism and climate change by demanding systemic changes and alternatives. Several signs noted direct connections between climate change and capitalism such as “System Change, Not Climate Change”, “The Earth does not belong to us, we belong to the Earth”, “Water is for the people, not Fracking”. National Nurses United also attended with a large sign, “Our Planet, Our Health,” to connect the systemic crises with health and social justice. They also distributed signs condemning Wall Street that read, “Tax Wall Street, End Climate Change”.
Multiple people holding banners marched around the intersection via the crosswalks to get the attention of cars and commuters. Several conversations centered on denouncing corporations that pursue profits at the expense of the environment. Handmade signs and individual conversations covered a plethora of interconnected concerns including: fracking and wasting water, the California Drought, reproductive justice, feminism, police brutality and the prison system, racial profiling, “not in my backyard” legal phenomena, imperialism, public transportation, and the Keystone Pipeline.
Most of the interactions amongst those present were friendly, and different groups and individuals exchanged information for future collaboration, and less with individuals in the neighborhood. This networking amongst mostly leftists (Eco-Socialists, Eco-Feminists, IMHO, Fight for the Souls of Cities, etc.) was viewed (at least by the author) as productive.
IMHO’s LA chapter had members participate and brought a literature display and distribute fliers. The flyer had excerpts from Peter Hudis’ “Marx’s Humanism and the Fight for a New Ecology” with information on an upcoming IMHO public meeting to discuss Marxism and Ecology on Sunday, October 19, 2014.
Interestingly, there were no direct police or private security present at the event (during the time the author was present). There were a few uniformed LAPD transit officers at the LA Red Metro line Wilshire/Vermont station, which is about 200 feet from the event. LAPD were inspecting metro cards using a digital handheld device to scan them (including that of the author). It was certainly some form of technology surveillance. There were several people (maybe 15-20) people with visible ties to the march via banners/clothing using the metro station at the same time as the author, and almost all of us had our metro cards scanned by LAPD. This was not applied to everyone emerging from the station, and there was not a process to randomly check metro-cards. The LAPD inspection of metro-cards during the same time as the climate march raises some serious questions and concerns about the role of police surveillance and repression of civil rights and liberties.
Overall, the event has helped to demonstrate visible and material solidarity in Los Angeles to encourage action for systemic change. It is important to continue to address some rather absurd and reactionary climate change deniers in the USA. It is also important to maintain continued action to challenge the pitiful political conditions of the status quo in the USA and internationally.