Through the rain and bitter wind Saturday afternoon, a group of around 28 Galesburg citizens, Knox students and faculty marched through downtown Galesburg in solidarity with the national People’s Climate March in Washington D.C.
The local and national march intended to support efforts to protect the Environmental Protection Agency and develop a green economy. The Galesburg march was spearheaded by March On: Knox County Indivisible group members Professor of English Emily Anderson, Visiting Assistant Professor of English Valerie Billing and Associate Dean of the College Lori Schroeder. The group is not affiliated with Knox College and the faculty organizers are acting in it as private citizens.
“[Climate change] puts various aspect of our health and our future at risk. It’s not something that is an opinion, it’s a fact. It’s sort of maddening to have policy changes made at the shrug of his [Trump’s] shoulder,” Schroeder said. “We teach this stuff in schools and for the administration to act like it’s a matter of jobs and business is sort of ignoring the bigger issue.”
Along with the local march, there was a national march held in Washington, D.C., and over 300 satellite marches across the country that were organized by other indivisible groups, such as the Sierra Club and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. According to the Knox County Indivisible Facebook page, the main goal for the march was to promote advanced solutions to climate crises rooted in racial, social and economic justice, protect the right to clean air, water and land and fund investments in the environment to transition to a new clean and renewable energy economy.
“We wanted to plan a local climate march because it focuses on climate in terms of the environment, but also in terms of social and economic issues and the ways in which environmental racism makes it harder for people to get jobs in more diverse communities,” Anderson said. “It is particularly relevant here because our larger community is based on agriculture and industries that support agriculture.”
Before the march, Anderson, Billing and Walter McAllister, owner of Q’s Cafe, spoke on the issues of climate change and the effect it has on the environment on the courthouse lawn. McAllister also called upon Galesburg citizens to voice their concerns to the local government.
“Now is the time to locally go for the change that we all want globally. Right now the powers that be in this town will have you believe that our goals are impossible. That renewable energy is infeasible, solar power is too expensive, alternative energies are not effective, green spaces are not important — they are lying to us,” McAllister said. “We know they are lying, because we are seeing it work in other communities that are in the same situation we are in. They’re getting away with it, and they will continue to get away with it if we don’t stay informed. That is why we must fight.”
After the rally, the group of protesters marched downtown through the rain, wind and cold, past Innkeepers and through the roundabout, ending at the gazebo in Standish Park. Snacks were available and protesters were provided the opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns regarding the environment.
One family, Mindy Knapp and her daughter, traveled to Galesburg from Avon, Ill. just to have the chance to participate in the march.
“We want clean water and clean air,” Knapp said. “We don’t want to have to move to Mars.”