Activists Rally for Climate Justice in Manhattan

Members of Rise and Resist hold a banner advocating for state-based climate legislation.
Donna Aceto

Out LGBTQ politicians and activists joined a demonstration at Union Square on April 7 to encourage state lawmakers to take action on legislation aimed at addressing a range of environmental issues in the state.

Rise and Resist, an LGBTQ-driven activist group that formed in response to Donald Trump’s election win in 2016, rallied alongside out gay State Senator Brad Hoylman, Senator John Liu of Queens, and Asssemblymember Harvey Epstein of Manhattan in support of the Climate and Community Investment Act (CCIA), which intends to bolster clean energy, allocate funds to disadvantaged communities, and advance other initiatives aimed at eradicating climate change.

The bill, which was introduced last month, is led by State Senator Kevin Parker of Brooklyn and has more than a dozen co-sponsors, including Hoylman and his out gay colleague in the State Senate, Jabari Brisport of Brooklyn.

Advocates gathered beneath Union Square’s Climate Countdown Clock before marching to Washington Square Park.

Jay W. Walker of Rise and Resist prepares to make some noise at the rally.Donna Aceto

“The CCIA is pragmatic in the way it’s funded and radical in its commitment to climate justice,” Rise and Resist organizer Stu Waldman said in a written statement “It’s practical and visionary and is a model for climate legislation over the next decade.”

The event was one of multiple events statewide aimed at raising visibility for the legislative effort and other environmental issues during a Climate, Jobs, and Justice Action Week of advocacy. While there was a focus on the legislation at the state level, folks also called on Congress to do their part in prioritizing climate reforms.

State lawmakers John Liu, Harvey Epstein, and Brad Hoylman hold signs emphasizing climate justice.Donna Aceto

Advocates touted the CCIA as a way to take on corporate pollution, redirect funding towards efforts to reduce emissions, and ramp up community-based projects in the areas of public transportation, solar power, and energy rebates.

“The CCIA will create green jobs, invest in communities most harmed by pollution and climate change, build a sustainable green economy for New York State, and make polluters pay for all of that,” Cherie Acierno of Rise and Resist said in a written statement. “To solve the twin crises of the climate emergency and pandemic recovery, it is urgent we pass the CCIA.”

Among others on hand included NY Renews, a coalition of hundreds of faith groups, environmental justice organizations, and community groups from across the state.

LGBTQ and Peace activist Leslie Cagan speaks to the crowd.Donna Aceto
Rise and Resist provides the drumbeat.Donna Aceto
Marchers send a clear message that polluters must pay.Donna Aceto
Stu Waldman of Rise and Resist looks on while serving as a marshal.Donna Aceto
Out gay City Council candidate Erik Bottcher of Manhattan with Marilyn Vasta and Ron Kuby.

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