Hundreds of Portland youth met in front of city hall this morning to demand a more aggressive response to climate change at all levels of government.
"This is about our future, our children's future, our planet's future," one high school student shouted through a megaphone over the cheering crowd. "If you don't act like adults, we will!"
The event, like the hundreds taking place in cities across the globe today, was completely organized and orchestrated by youth. High schoolers made up the majority of the group, but middle school and elementary students (accompanied by parents) also joined the throngs.
The students leading the rally leant their mic to only one adult speaker, Portland Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, who has supported this movement from the beginning.
"You are exactly what we have been waiting for," Hardesty told the group. "Leadership comes in all ages, it comes in all colors, it comes in all cultures. I have never been prouder to represent the city of Portland than I have today. We hear you, keep it up!"
With handmade signs, synchronized chants, and bright face paint, the crowd of young activists flooded into the street and ignited a march along the Portland waterfront.
Serena, a Wilson High School student, said she joined today's march because she's tired of being ignored by politicians.
"It hurts me that we have solutions and yet we are denying the right to use them," she told the Mercury. "I feel like we can push for a better future. There are things we can do."
Asked why she thinks those solutions aren't being acted on, Serena didn't hesitate.
"Money. Scientists have come up with solutions but corporations have shot them down because they don't make them money."
More photos from the morning protest below: