Roughly 1,000 young activists are marching through the streets of Washington, D.C. on Monday in what they hope will be the largest-ever planned civil disobedience action to demand racial, immigration, and climate justice reform for a "broken" political system.
Under the banner Our Generation, Our Choice, millenials from a range of grassroots advocacy organizations—including 350.org, Million Hoodies, Working Families, and the Fossil Fuel Student Divestment Network—blocked traffic and shut down intersections as they marched to the White House, risking arrest to "inspire urgency and courage from our elected leaders."
"What do we do when our communities are under attack? Stand up, fight back!" they chanted. "Injustice, we'll stop it. People over profit!"
One contingent marched behind a sign that read, "We are the ones we've been waiting for." Another laid down a blank mural banner in the middle of an intersection as demonstrators used colorful paint to write or draw out their vision for a just world.
At other times, they called out, "No borders, no nations, stop the deportations!"
"The voices of those that have gone unheard for too long will be heard in this moment," said Dante Barry, executive director of Million Hoodies. "A cross-section of youth activism have come together to say that change is something that we demand, and the time to act upon it is now. From environmental to criminal justice, the country we live in today does not reflect the beliefs of the population it comprises."
"We are here to take a stand, and to make our mark for a better future for the next generation," Barry said. "As we strive to strengthen the democratic process, we aim to empower those that have not yet found their voice while giving power back to people in communities across the nation to show that we are standing together, stronger than ever today. We will continue to work tirelessly and in solidarity until our goals are achieved."
The activists are demanding that Congress takes immediate action to "keep fossil fuels in the ground, protect and respect the dignity and lives of immigrants, and black, brown, and poor communities; reinvest in healthy jobs, renewable energy, and an economy that works for all of us," as organizers Yong Jung Cho, Waleed Shahid, Devontae Torriente, and Sara Blazevic wrote in a piece published last week.
But more than that, they're presenting themselves as the stewards of a just future.
"Politicians aren’t the only voices with power," the young activists state. "We have power, too. And we have more power when we act together. Young people don’t live single-issue lives. We live at the intersection of the most pressing problems today. Our movements are connected and our purpose is huge."