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October 22, 2019

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Turnout is incredible’: Frustrated by climate inaction, young Las Vegans join global protest

Climate Change Student Walkout

Yasmina Chavez

Students protest during a climate change walkout at Advanced Technologies Academy Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. The students joined millions around the globe protesting for urgent action on climate change.

Climate Change Student Walkout

Students protest during a climate change walkout at Advanced Technologies Academy Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. The students joined millions around the globe protesting for urgent action on climate change. Launch slideshow »

Ariana Boorboor would occasionally call for hands to go up if students could hear her. Each time, the youths raised their fists.

The Las Vegas-area students were taking part in a walkout to protest climate change around the world. Seven were scheduled on Friday at Southern Nevada high schools, culminating in a rally in front of the Venetian, where students and activists demanded action on climate change.

At Advanced Technologies Academy, Boorboor’s school, students spilled out of the entrance at around 1:40 p.m., waving signs and banners and climbing on each other’s shoulders. Boorboor hoped the participants continued to push action on climate change going forward.

“I hope they continue to hold that message in their heart, to switch to a more sustainable way of living and to vote for people who care for them,” she said.

Three days before the United Nations convenes an emergency summit on climate change, young people around the world led an effort to bring notoriety to the crisis.

Kamieko Goines, a junior at Advanced Technologies Academy who led chants during the walkout, said that people in power need to effect change on climate action.

“I’ve been in Vegas for 16 years, and it is evident that there is climate change happening,” she said. “No matter how many times people want to ignore it, no matter how many times the president wants to ignore it, it’s evident that it’s happening, especially in such a hot city like Vegas.”

Later in the day, the rally on the Strip brought out more students and other activists. Crowded onto the sidewalk in front of the Venetian, leaders led the group in chants and ran voter registration drives.

Johnny Lincoln, the CEO of an aerospace company, said that Las Vegas may end up with a legacy on climate change “much worse” than the rest of the world.

“Vegas is a young city that’s based largely on discretionary tourism and spending and excess,” he said. “And, so, if we have any hope of influencing our legacy in the right direction, we’re going to unite to confront this and deal with it and manage it as a situation so it doesn’t hurt our economy and hurt our people and hurt our children.”

Lenka Luther, a stay-at-home mom of four, brought her children to the event to see what it’s like to be active, she said.

“It (will) definitely impact them (and) us,” she said. “But especially them, and they need to have a choice in the future, in how things happen in the world.”

Dexter Lim, a senior who led the walkout at Palo Verde High School, said the Strip rally was “fantastic.”

“I knew the community was passionate about this issue,” he said. “I’m so overjoyed that they were able to come out and have their voices heard.”

Activist backers of the events were similarly excited.

Jackie Chiakulas and Matt Piper, with 350.org and the Sunrise Movement Las Vegas respectively, helped organize both the walkouts and the rally on the Strip.

“The turnout is incredible. I grew up in Las Vegas and have been volunteering in environmental justice and conservation for a while, and I’ve never seen a gathering like this,” Chiakulas said. “You have babies, newborns, middle schoolers, high schoolers, adults, retirees. It’s really incredible to see.”

Piper echoed her statements.

“It’s amazing to see so many young people show up with their families,” he said. “So many adults showing up, standing in solidarity with the youth. We all share this planet together and we’re in the fight together.”