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Bozeman High School students and Gallatin Valley Sunrise leaders took to the streets Friday afternoon to demand action on climate change.

Before classes ended at the high school on Friday, about 70 students walked out of the building and headed to the steps in front of the Gallatin County Courthouse. There, the students met up with around 50 more protesters of all ages — from small children to older adults.

Signs were held there that included slogans like “No Climate, No Deal” and “The Climate is Changing. Why aren’t We?”

The rally was part of a Global Climate Strike and was in solidarity with the Fridays For Future movement.

The youth-led, international movement started in 2018 after then-15-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg sat in front of the country’s parliament every school day for three weeks to protest a lack of government action on climate change.

At Bozeman’s rally, high school student organizers gave impassioned speeches about how climate change will, and is already, affecting them.

“I feel sad. I feel upset. I feel helpless. I feel like my feet are pulled into the train tracks while I’m watching an oil tanker come barreling down. And I’ve been feeling this way for years,” said student organizer Cady Diamond. “I don’t remember ever not knowing about climate change.”

Diamond said climate change has been hanging over her like a cloud for nearly her entire life, and as long as she’s known it, people in power have been making “the tiniest possible baby steps” to push forward an illusion of progress.

“I wish I could worry about my homecoming outfit or who asked who out or even just my calculus homework. But instead my main worries are how to save humanity from itself — how I’m supposed to solve the impending apocalypse that people don’t even believe is happening,” she said.

Two candidates for the Bozeman City Commission who are running in this November’s municipal election — Joseph Morrison and Christopher Coburn — also spoke at the rally.

“As I’ve been campaigning, I’ve gotten to talk to folks in this community who are afraid for the next summer, or the summer after that,” Morrison said. “They are afraid for us to run out of water. They are afraid for when the forests burn a little too close to our city.”

Climate change is here, and humanity need to figuring out how to take care of people while it’s experiencing it and what to do to prevent it from getting worse, Morrison said. He encouraged young people to get involved, to step into power and to take action.

“We are equipped with the knowledge and the wisdom to lead our world into one where we’re not destroying it every single day,” he said.

Terry Cunningham, Bozeman’s deputy mayor, also spoke at the rally. He is running to become mayor of Bozeman in the election this November.

Cunningham touted Bozeman’s Climate Action Plan, which he said was finalized with help from young climate activists in Bozeman.

“They challenged us to always be better, and the climate action plan that they developed is the most aggressive one of any city in Montana,” he said. “And it’s still not good enough.”

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Helena Dore can be reached at hdore@dailychronicle.com or at 582-2628.

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