Saturday’s showers were no match for Kansas City’s version of the People’s Climate Movement march and rally.
Grandparents, parents and children filled the Country Club Plaza sidewalk along 47th Street as midday showers pelted their clothes and wind gusts inverted their umbrellas.
“I’m here because this is what’s important to me. It matters to me, it matters to my children, it matters to my neighborhood and my city. People need to realize this is important,” said Anne O’Leary of Kansas City.
Organizers said about 200 marched in the rain in Kansas City, one of several rallies that coincided with a national rally in Washington, D.C. The events were pegged to coincide with President Donald Trump’s 100th day in office.
The Kansas City troupe organized at the north end of Cancer Survivor’s Park at noon and moved west along 47th Street to Wyandotte Street. They circled back along Nichols Road to arrive at Unity Tempe for the rally, which moved inside because of the weather.
“We are here to stand up and fight back today,” said rally host Manny Abarca, a sustainability advocate and the community affairs liaison for U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver.
Abarca started the rally by recounting environmental actions Trump has taken in his 100 days in office.
Among these, Abarca listed the administration’s approval of the Dakota Access pipeline, Trump’s pledge to cut the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by 31 percent and to roll back carbon pollution standards for vehicles, and Trump’s claim that he would pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord.
Each item stirred derision from a crowd that organizers said exceeded 1,000.
Other speakers addressed evidence of climate change and its impact on the Kansas City area and nearby region.
“We are seeing more and more extremes” in weather, said Stuart Shafer, a sustainable farming practitioner and professor of sociology at Johnson County Community College.
He cited winter-like conditions in April and warm weather in February that can entice normally dormant plants to bloom.
“The trees and plants are just as confused as we are,” Shafer said.
He also said that the answers to the confusion were clearly at hand but being ignored by political actors who deny the evidence.
“We don’t reject the science, we embrace it,” he said, stirring his audience to boisterous applause.
Other speakers addressed topics seemingly off the climate focus of the rally but made their case that environmental justice stood as part of justice in all forms not separately.
Terrence Wise, a fast-food worker who has campaigned for $15 an hour minimum wage and other economic justice issues, said companies that mistreat and under pay their workers treat the environment the same way.
Wise explained his point by telling the audience how he explained to his daughters why he was going to a climate march on a soggy Saturday.
“We march for justice, whether it’s climate justice, whether it’s racial justice, whether it’s economic justice, that’s why we march and that’s where daddy’s going,” Wise said.