Millennium Square protest: Young people in Leeds stage demonstration against climate and racial injustice

Two Leeds organisations have joined together to stage a demonstration against climate change and racial injustice.

Monday, 27th September 2021, 2:36 pm

Youth4Climate and Black Lives Matter Leeds held a rally in Millennium Square at 3pm today, joined by staff and students from the University of Leeds.

Themed 'wave of change', the demonstration was held to raise awareness of climate and racial justice and highlight how the two issues are intertwined.

It was led by young people, with support from Black Lives Matter Leeds co-founder Marvina Newton.

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Marvina Newton, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Leeds, addresses the crowd

"It's so important for us to look at climate justice," Marvina told the Yorkshire Evening Post.

"Our input from the UK, from Leeds, has a detrimental effect on melanated people who do not contribute to the carbon footprint.

"For us, in the West, we need to think about the practical steps we can take to reduce our carbon footprint. The ecological emergency is happening now."

Marvina is leading a coalition between Black Lives Matter, Youth4Climate and her charity Angel of Youths, which has just been granted five years of funding to launch a climate curriculum.

Woody, 19, who represents Youth4Climate Leeds

"The voice of the youth is so important," she added.

"This is a nice way for us to start that conversation - to tackle racism, tackle inequality and tackle social issues.

"Young people in Leeds are so capable, strong and able. They're phenomenal.

"Their voice and influence is so dynamic and for us, as adults, we've failed them - and now we can fix it. We need to act."

Mia Thomas, 28, (left) and Dr Tess Mattam, 41, with her 10-year-old son Henry.

The demonstration was part of a global day of climate action under the banner of Fridays For Future.

It follows on from Youth4Climate strikes held last year, where young people skipped school to protest against climate change.

19-year-old Woody, of Youth4Climate Leeds, said: “I’m here because I’m terrified about my future and the devastation that the climate crisis is bringing - and is going to continue to bring unless we urgently address the emissions that are being constantly pumped into the atmosphere

“I want to see a huge coming together of people to stand up for climate justice, using the climate emergency to build a better, racially just and socially just future, defeating the problems we have in society.

“They all come from the same root cause.”

The rally included live music performances, Q&A sessions with a climate expert and an open mic call-out where young people were invited to share their views.

Dr Tess Mattam, who works in Leeds, was at the event with her 10-year-old son Henry.

She was representing Medact Leeds, an action group on environmental issues for healthcare professions, and offered mental health support for people at the event.

Dr Mattam, 41, said: “We’re offering people the chance to have a chat about climate issues that might be making them feel anxious or worried.

“We recognise that mental health is an enormous impact of climate change.

“There’s worry - particularly among young people. My son wasn’t able to go on climate demonstrations for so long because it upset him so much.

“We have to recognise that impact on our children - not only that their future will be compromised, but that they’re spending their childhood worrying about it."

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