Danica Sun helped lead a group of about 50 people, mostly in their teens and early 20s, holding posters and signs through the Loop Friday amid windy and wet snowy weather as they chanted phrases such as, “The planet, the people, always over profit.”
The group, which gathered at Heritage Green Park around 2 p.m. and ended outside Chase Tower shortly before 3 p.m. was participating in a global climate strike against fossil fuel funding hosted by a number of environmental justice organizations locally and across the world, such as Fridays For Future. In their march, they made a pit stop at BP’s Chicago office,
The group ended up outside of the Chase Tower because Sun said Chase Bank is one of the biggest funders of fossil fuels. The protesters’ main demands were fossil fuel divestment and investment in clean energy.
“I want people in power, companies, officials in power, to take action and take responsibility for the consequences they have inflicted on the youth,” she said. “I shouldn’t be out here fighting for my future. The people in power should be using their positions to ensure a safe future for their kids, for kids like me, like my sister, my schoolmates, for all of us in our future.”
Sun, 16, is a junior at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy and co-head of the Chicago chapter of Fridays For Future, an international, youth-led climate movement that started in August 2018 when Greta Thunberg and other younger activists went viral after having sat in front of the Swedish parliament building for three weeks on school days to protest against the lack of action on climate change, according to the website. The movement has made its way to all seven continents in around 7,500 cities with over 14 million participants.
Fridays For Future chapters traditionally try to hold strikes every Friday, Sun said, but the Chicago chapter tries especially hard to participate during global strikes in September and March, when Fridays for Future chapters across the world all organize to strike on the same day.
For Sun, her involvement and concern for the climate movement have been around for years.
“I’ve always cared about it,” she said. “I educated myself more and more, and I realized that the consequences reach us and our future.”
In the seventh grade, Sun said she did a research project on permafrost, which “exploded” her interest in the climate crisis. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she joined the local chapter of the Climate Reality Project and now serves as the head of the youth branch of that organization, which she said is independently called Chicago Climate Youth Coalition, another co-organizer of Friday’s strike in Chicago.
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After that, she learned more about Fridays For Future and found out there was no local chapter of the movement, so she decided to start one herself with the help of her co-head. They planned and participated in their first strike as part of the global effort in September.
“The goal whenever we strike is for everyone around us in this big bustling city to see that we care about the climate crisis and that they should care about it as well,” Sun said.
Clara Copps, 20, and Cosette Ellis, 21, a junior and senior at Loyola University, respectively, came downtown Friday to take part in the strike. Copps is part of the Restoration Club on campus, while Ellis is in the Student Environmental Alliance at Loyola, both environmental student organizations that helped promote and plan Friday’s strike.
“It is always super helpful to build community in the environmental climate action movement,” Ellis said. “All of us coming together. It’s pretty powerful to see everyone caring together.”
Copps said she made an effort to come out on Friday despite the chilly weather because she “cares a lot about the environment in general.” Ellis said she likes to “do what I can outside of the classroom and get involved in the bigger world.”
“I feel like it’s just good to get people thinking about what’s going on,” Copps said. “If we weren’t here, then no one would be thinking about it or be reminded of these issues. Whether it be pedestrians or people in the Chase building watching us, it’s good to just remind people that there’s a problem and something needs to be done.”