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Sunrise Movement LA member Amir, 14, outside of Sen. Dianne Feinstein's Los Angeles office on July, 13, 2021. (Photo: Jenna McGuire/Common Dreams/CC 3.0)

Youth Activists Rally Outside Feinstein's LA Office Demanding Civilian Climate Corps

"Change only dies the day that the people meant to fight for us stay silent."

Jenna McGuire

Dozens of climate activists from the youth-led Sunrise Movement rallied outside of Sen. Dianne Feinstein's Los Angeles office Tuesday afternoon to demand the inclusion of a key climate measure in federal infrastructure legislation.

"Any bill without a fully funded CCC is a bill that fuels the fires burning away our futures."
—Amir, Sunrise Movement LA

The climate group's most pressing demand was that Feinstein (D-Calif.) publicly champion the Civilian Climate Corps for Jobs and Justice Act, co-sponsored by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), which the Sunrise Movement says will "put over 1.5 million Americans to work in good-paying jobs all while combating climate change and building a sustainable future for our generation and many more to come."

Just hours before the Tuesday rally took place Feinstein expressed support for the Civilian Climate Corps (CCC) in a tweet:

Sunrise Movement member Josiah Edwards, 21, responded to the news at the rally.

"Now I'm hella excited to hear that Sen. Feinstein is finally stepping up to some degree. That being said, we know Sen. Feinstein and politicians like her love to play politics," said Edwards. "A tweet isn't gonna do it. What we need to hear from you is that you are willing to co-sponsor the AOC-Ed Markey vision of the Civilian Climate Corps which is funded by over $80 billion, as opposed to [President] Joe Biden's $10 billion."

Josiah

Josiah Edwards, 21, speaks at a Tuesday rally outside Feinstein's Los Angeles office.

The climate activists are requesting Feinstein hold a meeting with them, while also calling on her to vote "no" on any infrastructure bill that does not include significant climate provisions.

Many of the activists spent Tuesday night sleeping outside of Feinstein's office building and have vowed not to leave until the senator commits to their demands.

"We're asking Sen. Feinstein to meet with us. Meet with us so we can share our stories and why we so desperately need a fully funded CCC in this reconciliation bill," said 14-year-old Sunrise Movement member Amir. "You can make up excuses all day about how we cannot pay for this, but the truth is that we have no choice. It's the decades and decades of inaction that has brought us to this point."

California's current extreme weather was not lost on the climate activists. The area is currently experiencing an extreme drought and is on pace to see its worst wildfire season in history. The entire Northwest is suffering from a deadly heatwave that scientists are calling the "most extreme in world weather records."

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Miriam, 16, speaks at a Tuesday rally outside Feinstein's Los Angeles office.

"We are rallying here today, above all else, to fight for the future. A future where we can look back to today and say that we did everything in our power to end climate change," said 16-year-old Sunrise Movement member Miriam.

Her speech continued:

Every year our summers grow hotter, the threat of wildfires more imminent, hurricanes more frequent, and the need for change more desperate. The truth is that change doesn't die when Republicans, or climate deniers, or the bearers of the Confederate flag shout us down. Change only dies the day that the people meant to fight for us stay silent. It dies the very moment that our leaders choose to compromise with the GOP in the name of moderation, rather than stand firm in the name of justice. And with that, we will lose our one chance at a livable future.

Sylvester Ani Jr., a progressive candidate running to represent California's 38th Congressional District also attended the rally, where he called out politicians and corporations who prioritize money over people.

"You are the oppressor or you're the oppressed," said Ani, who's endorsed by Sunrise OC. "We're undergoing class warfare with people who put money over people. That's what we're going through right now and the youth understand that."

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Sylvester Ani Jr. speaks at a Tuesday rally outside Feinstein's Los Angeles office.

"We will not surrender our futures to a rich and entrenched politician who fails to fundamentally understand what is at stake. That's why we fight—for our futures," said Edwards in a statement to Common Dreams. "Sen. Feinstein you have a choice: You can either choose to stand with us or you can make way for someone who will."

Edwards addressed Feinstein in his speech, saying: "You have no right to enable our suffering. You have no right to make money off the backs of our futures. You have no right to moderation. You have no right to mediocrity. You have no right to mild politics."

Watch:

The Sunrise Movement has criticized Biden's $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan as grossly inadequate and continued to push lawmakers to go bold with climate action measures, calling for at least $10 trillion in spending over the next decade to tackle the crisis.

On Wednesday, the Sunrise Movement also rejected Senate Democrats' newly unveiled $3.5 trillion proposal—a spending framework that sets the limits of a forthcoming reconciliation package—and is urging the House to put forth a much bolder package.

The Washington Post's Jeff Stein reported Wednesday afternoon that some money for a CCC is in Senate Democrats' reconciliation proposal, but it's unclear how much.

"Our leaders must take this crisis seriously," Lauren Maunus, Sunrise's advocacy director, said in a statement. "This is the first time since 2009 that Democrats have control of both chambers of Congress and the White House. They cannot afford to waste this opportunity."

The activists say the protests will continue outside Feinstein's LA office through Thursday, with additional protests taking place in San Francisco and San Diego.

"Any bill without a fully funded CCC is a bill that fuels the fires burning away our futures," said Amir. "We need you to fight like hell to make sure that our bill with the CCC is passed into law. Do that, and you've not only stepped up for us, but you've secured our futures and a habitable planet for not just us, but your grandchildren as well."

This story has been updated with new reporting on the inclusion of CCC funds in the Senate's $3.5 trillion reconciliation proposal.


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