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Appleton, WI: Community rallies for climate justice to honor Earth Day

By Mary Bogen |
April 27, 2021
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Appleton, WI rally demands climate justice.
Appleton, WI rally demands climate justice. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Appleton, WI - On April 24, a coalition of seven local environmental and social justice groups assembled with more than 100 members of local communities to make demands for a livable future. The event was led by Sunrise Appleton, a youth-led movement that works to advocate the adoption of Green New Deal policies, reducing carbon emissions by building new sustainable sources of energy and infrastructure, and putting a stop to climate change.

The energy of the crowd was one of fervent anti-capitalism. At one point a speaking representative from Sunrise stated, “We are no longer asking, we are demanding” as they shift away from passive attempts at changing the system and call directly on elected officials from local governments and all the way to President Biden to begin to address climate change with a sense of urgency.

Another youth-led organization in the coalition, Youth Climate Action Team (YCAT), stated that they are “a statewide alliance of climate activists working to end environmental injustice and the exploitative systems that created it. YCAT advocates for state and local climate action while standing against resource extraction and disaster capitalism.”

Members of YCAT also brought large hand-painted banners on tall poles with statements like “Keep it In the ground,” “No pipelines,” “Stop Line 3,” and “Renewable energy by 2035.” Other signs were focused on resource extraction and its direct causal relationship to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women crisis; “Violence to our land is violence to our bodies” and “No more man camps, no more MMIW.”

Kirsten Welch, a member from ESTHER Fox Valley and a Menominee woman, gave a powerful speech about the irreversible pollution of our waters and the violence, rape and murder of indigenous people that stem directly from the temporary housing, the ‘man camps’ built by oil and drilling companies. She stated that this is not just a crisis in Wisconsin or the U.S., but all over the world in areas where indigenous people have lived harmoniously with the land and seek to protect the sacred. Nearing the end of her speech she said that we need to “cut off the head of the black snake.” The black snake is what water protectors and indigenous people commonly call pipelines.

Other groups in the coalition were the Fox Valley Sierra Group, Citizen Action Northeast Wisconsin, PopEarth, and Our Wisconsin Revolution. But other groups like Food Not Bombs Fox Valley and the Wisconsin Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression mobilized to support this action. Many of these same groups will be attending the upcoming May Day rally in Appleton on May 1.