Climate and racial justice activists are protesting in Cleveland Tuesday, demanding “accountability and justice,” organizers say.
The protest, which has been organized by a number of different climate and racial justice organizations, started at 5 p.m. at Wade Lagoon Park in University Circle, Cleveland, which organizers say is less than a 5 minute walk from the debate location.
With wildfires ravaging the West Coast and hurricane season remaining “extremely active,” young activists are angered that plans for the debate don’t include a discussion about climate. Climate activists are demanding that the climate crisis be covered and that the presidential candidates discuss the issue of climate change, they say.
“As young people, climate really matters to us,” Emma DiLavore , 22-year-old senior at Case Western and a member of Sunrise Movement Case Western Reserve University, told CNN.
Tuesday’s protest in Cleveland is a joint action with a coalition of 14 partners including climate organizations such as Sunrise Movement Cleveland Hub, Sunrise Movement Case Western Reserve University, Ohio Youth for Climate Justice as well as racial justice organizations Black Lives Matter Cleveland, Black Spring Cleveland, Defend Black Women and others including New Voices for Reproductive Justice Cleveland.
“Racism upholds the system that allows for environmental destruction,” Sunny Savron, a 23-year-old organizer with Sunrise Movement’s Cleveland hub and a student at Cleveland State University, told CNN. “Everyone’s heard of environmental racism, and poor communities of color see the brunt of environmental destruction. If all people were treated equally, we wouldn’t see as much destruction.”
“Climate justice means racial justice,” organizers of the protest say.
One of the topics at the debate is "race and violence in our cities."
In preparation for Tuesday’s debate, Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine issued a proclamation activating around 300 National Guard members. According to DeWine, the guard members will assist Cleveland police to "ensure a safe and secure environment for those attending Tuesday’s presidential debate," he said in a tweet last week.
Young activists, including students at Case Western Reserve University, say they are uncomfortable with the guard presence.
“The protest is [also] protesting that fact that there are military police descending on our city right now,” DiLavore said.