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Students in the streets demand climate change justice

A global day of climate action had young people take to the streets in San Diego county. Many got support from their schools for a climate strike.

In Chula Vista, high school students joined college and graduate students carrying signs demanding cleaner air and an end to the use of polluting fossil fuels.

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M.G. Perez
Priscilla Lachappa, 22, is the current Miss Kumeyaay Nation. She is also a community college student advocating for climate justice on local reservations, in Chula Vista, Sept. 23, 2022.
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“Our history has been washed and watered down,” said Priscilla Lachappa, 22, who is a community college student and the current reigning Miss Kumeyaay Nation.

She is an advocate for social change and solutions to the climate crisis. Both are issues affecting her community on the Rincon reservation.

“Our riverbed and our mountain plants are not able to survive because it’s too hot in the mountains and it’s too dry down by the riverbeds,” she said.

The protest signs repeated what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported this year: that North America had its warmest summer ever.

That was enough to bring even more students to Waterfront Park in downtown San Diego on Friday afternoon. Their climate strike meeting was also an attempt to get the attention of local and international lawmakers — in other words, the adults who are in charge of making change.

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“We have set up a world that they are going to inherit with the most negative impacts of climate change. So their voices need to center on these issues so we can protect their futures,” said Lexi Rueff, program coordinator for San Diego 350, one of the environmental organizations leading the climate strike.

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M.G. Perez
Matthew Arca, 16, is a senior at Bonita Vista High School. He was an organizer of the San Diego climate strike event Sept. 23, 2022.

Many of these students put their education where their mouths are.

“We have so many youths here that are advocating and making sure this will be what we talk about and that we make sure it is declared as an emergency and that it’s not just seen as a passerby,” Rachal Hamilton told KPBS News. She recently graduated with an associate’s degree in sociology from Southwestern College.

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