A group of Utah teens marched to the Utah Capitol on Friday, shouting in an effort to show their concern for global climate change.
Some 80 marchers — mostly teens, with a few adults — walked from Salt Lake City Hall up State Street to the Capitol, in a local version of a “global climate strike.”
Co-organizers Natalie Roberts and Melanie Van Hook, both eighth graders at Salt Lake Arts Academy, led the march, carrying a banner that read “Invest in our future — not climate change.”
More people were waiting for them at the Capitol, creating a crowd of more than 100 people, who listened to speeches and song performances. People pedaled three stationary bikes on the Capitol steps to generate the electricity to run the PA system.
Roberts, 14, and Van Hook, 13, said this was the first “global climate strike” in Utah since the COVID-19 pandemic began last year. The classmates said they were inspired by the weekly school strikes begun by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, and her solitary strikes in front of the Swedish parliament building.
Since August, Roberts said, she has sat in front of the Utah Capitol, along the “State of Utah” facade on 300 North, every Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
She would stream live video on Instagram, and talk with people who walked up and asked her about her cause. “Sometimes I would just sit there and stare out into space,” she said.
In December, a classmate at the Arts Academy, 13-year-old Zoe Barlow, joined her in the “Fridays for Future” strikes. Van Hook started sitting with them in January. Others would join in on occasion, but usually no more than five teens would take part.
“It is pretty sad when you expect a bunch of people to come, and then just sit there by yourself in sleet and snow, and it’s 20 degrees,” Roberts said.