Black Friday is now a global tradition and, for climate activists, a global problem.
Young people worldwide planned to hold thousands of demonstrations Friday to protest overconsumption and draw attention to climate change ahead of a United Nations climate conference Monday.
In Chicago, demonstrators with the Sunrise Movement Chicago, the Illinois Youth Climate Strike, and other organizations planned to occupy Watertower Place, a major downtown shopping mall.
“We will be disrupting business as usual to make sure shoppers cannot ignore the climate emergency,” said coordinator Lillie Schneyer, 23. “Watertower Place is an ideal setting for us to draw attention to the culpability of large corporations and fast fashion who have put profits for a greedy few ahead of the needs of many, contributing to catastrophic impacts on our climate and the rising inequality and poor working conditions that we see as twin crises in our country today.”
Ethyl Ruehman, 20, a freshman at Indiana University and member of the Northwest Indiana Youth Council, planned to join a “Day of Defiance” protest outside a mall in Hobart, Indiana.
“Today is especially important because it’s a massive consumer holiday. Textile consumption is estimated to be the second biggest contributor to climate change. And the tech industry, through planned obsolescence, creates a lot of waste,” she said.
Ruehman said she was moved to protest Friday to bring awareness to “unfair and exploitative business practices” and to advocate for her family living in the Philippines, who she said have suffered birth defects from drinking water contaminated by nearby factories.
Youth activists with in Washington, D.C., planned to hold a ceremonial closed-casket “Black Friday Funeral For Future” outside the Capitol building. Organizers planned to “eulogize and mourn all that has been lost and all that is threatened by the climate crisis,” followed by a funeral procession throughout the city.
“We’re bringing the loss of our future to the steps of the Capitol because they need to prepare to own this death,” organizer Maddie Graham, 17, said on the event page. “We need systemic change. Congress has been feeding our fossil fuel addiction. They know they are killing our future, but they won’t take action to save it.”
In New York City, demonstrators with Extinction Rebellion walked slowly and silently through a store, pushing empty shopping carts in a long chain as an “active meditation on the ravages of overconsumption.” Others in the city staged “die-ins,” lying down motionless in front of store escalators, and celebrated “Buy Nothing Day.”
Thousands join global climate strike
Friday’s demonstrations follow a wave of global protests led by 16-year-old Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg.
In September, millions of people participated in a “Global Climate Strike” school walkout to call on world leaders to step up their efforts against climate change, carbon emissions and other environmental issues in advance of a U.N. Climate Action Summit.
“In September 7.5 million people around the world took to the streets. Tomorrow we’re doing it again. Everyone’s needed. Everyone’s welcome. Join us!” Thunberg said in a Twitter post Thursday.
Is Black Friday an American tradition? Not anymore
Tens of thousands protested in front of Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate. Dozens of Nigerians marched in downtown Lagos. In Paris, demonstrators protested at a shopping mall and in front of Amazon’s headquarters. Others staged a die-in at the Stock Exchange in Johannesburg.
In Madrid, Greenpeace activists stood inside a store window holding a banner that read “Black Day for the Planet”. The United Nations’ 2019 Climate Change Conference, known as COP25, is scheduled to take place in the city on Dec. 2.
Thunberg said that Friday marked week 67 of her school strike for climate action.
Another global action is planned for Dec. 6.