On Friday, March 15, over a hundred King’s students joined the worldwide movement #YouthStrike4Climate. Roar tagged along.
The young people’s protest for climate change justice took place in over 100 countries across the globe, with strikes recorded in 107 locations across the UK. UCL, LSE, SOAS, and King’s joined the march.
The Summoning Stone
King’s students started gathering in front of the Strand reception at 11am. Participants came prepared with colourful posters with various slogans, including:
“The time is ticking”
“There’s no planet B”
“Climate is changing, why aren’t we?”
Others specifically attacked the government:
“My neck, my back, climate change is happening and the government is whack!”
“Lobbying our way to extinction is not mitigating global change”
“Respect existence or expect resistance”
Other attention-seeking tactics included students waving branches and leaves. Perhaps most impressive was a large banner which read “KCL STRIKE FOR GLOBAL JUSTICE”.
Leading students summoned fellow classmates with various chants shouted through a microphone, including:
“What do we want?
When do we want it?
Some chants were more specific:
“Climate change and inflation were not caused by immigration: that’s bullshit, come off it, the enemy is profit!”
“Capitalism/Tory government/UK government shame on you ….we deserve a future too!”
“What do we want?
How do we get it?
Tax the rich!”
Not everyone shared the excitement. Some irritated passers-by tried to break through the wall of students, many trying to get to work. “This campus makes me really annoyed”, a hurried King’s student was overheard saying. Others wondered aloud, “why aren’t these kids in lectures”.
Despite the negative comments, protesters screamed in front of Strand for the next hour, when students from the other three universities marched towards King’s. The moment they appeared on the horizon, the leaders gave out face masks (a symbol of air pollution) and everyone rushed towards the already enormous group. Once united, the wave of students headed toward Parliament Square, with King’s taking the lead.
Marching out of time
Police were on standby throughout the march. Tourists enjoyed it as if it was the newest exhibition at the British Museum, and numerous people came out of the cafes to see the action. As traffic was blocked, some drivers beeped in rhythm in support (without turning off their engines though), while others were angry for being stuck. One side of Fleet St. was closed, with protesters marching down the other side, forcing cars to come to a halt.
As the students marched toward Parliament, other young people joined in, accompanied by drums, trombones, vuvuzelas, and even bagpipes.
Parkour and Leftovers
Climbing also proved to be a popular tactic. One group of small children stood on the plinth of the recent Millicent Fawcett Statue chanting “We’re On Strike for Climate Justice”. Older students climbed onto bus shelters, while others threw smoke bombs, causing the police to intervene. This was met with booing.
At one point, the crowd become riled up when a few college-aged students began to climb some scaffolding and dangle freely from a bar. No one was injured.
Some protesters entered McDonald’s and other franchises seen as counterproductive to climate change action.
“But why are people protesting? Climate change is a political game and people here are crazy,” one bystander commented to Roar.
At one point, NWA’s Fuck The Police & Skepta’s It Ain’t Safe were blasted from speakers amidst a brief clash with mounted police.
Some protesters, under encouragement from the climate activist group Extinction Rebellion, sat in the road, blocking each junction around Trafalgar Square as well as Westminster Bridge. Extinction Rebellion reports that at least four of their protestors were arrested for civil disobedience.
Reported by: Jared Phanco and Virjinia Vassileva
Photography: Jared Phanco and Virjinia Vassileva