Megaphones and signs are away and protesters are dispersing.
There was no acknowledgment of the rally from the wealth fund meeting.
350 Juneau Co-chair Elaine Schroeder is speaking through a megaphone.
“We’re really very excited to welcome representatives from over 30 nations,” she said. “Thank you for coming all the way to Juneau, so we can show off our beautiful environment.”
Rally-goers are settling in at the courtyard outside Centennial Hall, they’ve made a semicircle with their signs facing the event venue. A Tsimshian song led by SEACC indigenous engagement lead Heather Evoy is marking their arrival.
University of Alaska Southeast professor David Noon joked that if anyone wants their speech to be forgotten, they should speak after Hayes.
He drew parallels between pulling money out of fossil fuels to 19th century nations that divested from slave-made goods.
After the professor, the next speaker is high school student Linnea Lentfer.
Lentfer said the climate change is the most dangerous threat humanity has faced. She cited a projection that predicts a mass die-off event could be possible by 2100 if carbon emissions continue at their current rate.
“I would be 97,” Lentfer said. “If I have children, they would be middle aged.”
“We have gone too far in this crisis for change to be anything other than drastic,” Lentfer said. She said a stable economy that’s not reliant on fossil fuels must be established.
“We must divest now,” she said. “We must act like we truly do care about the future of our children and grandchildren.”
The rally is now marching toward Centennial Hall.
Alaska State Writer Laureate Ernestine Saankalaxt’ Hayes spoke next.
“The gates of colonialism will not prevail against us,” Hayes said. “The gates of end-stage capitalism will not prevail against us.”
She concluded by repeated the word “divest” three times. The crowd joined in.
Zach Brown, executive director for Inian Islands Institute, is the first speaker.
Brown said he chose to leave climate science for climate change education and activism because “the science is mature.”
“We know what’s happening,” he said. “We can see it.”
He said solutions, such as using renewable energy sources, are equally evident.
“We know how to fix it,” he said.
He has lathered up the crowd with a charged speech. Brown labeled fossil fuel companies’ actions as criminal and his mention of “climate-change denying politicians” drew resounding boos. He said university’s pension funds and state-owned funds need to divest from fossils fuels. Brown pointed to a sign that read “Not another penny for dirty energy.”
“Hold up that sign,” Brown said. “That’s what I’m talking about right there.”
SEACC indigenous engagement lead Heather Evoy said Yees Ku Oo will be leading a march “down the hill” to the wealth fund meeting at Centennial Hall after a handful of speeches.
“Maybe it’s a side benefit of the climate catastrophe that we have sun instead of rain,” said 350 Juneau Treasurer Bob Schroeder after testing the mic.
He introduced Yees Ku Oo, a multi-cultural, Alaska Native dance group. Yees Ku Oo is starting off the event with song and dance.
State Rep. Andi Story and Sen. Jesse Kiehl, both Democrats from Juneau, are in the crowd for today’s rally. So is City and Borough of Juneau Assembly hopeful Greg Smith.
Local students are holding signs welcoming members of the International Forum of Sovereign Wealth Fund and urging them to divest from fossil fuels.
Among the countries on the signs are Nigeria, Libya, Turkey, Iran and China. Representatives from those countries are a few blocks south at Centennial Hall for an annual meeting.
Reusing and recycling extends to at least one of the signs at this rally. A fish-shaped cardboard sign made by Shirley Dean for a previous Tongass National Forest rally is being toted by Dean’s friend Debbie Sidlauskus. Dean said she typically keeps her protest signs after rallies.
“I figured there’d be another one,” Dean said.
It also gave her visitor from Long Island, New York something to hold.
“My kids will be impressed,” Sidlauskus said. “‘Oh my gosh, Mom, you go to marches when you visit Alaska.’”
Dean said she’s a frequent participant in environmentally focused events.
“I’ve almost got Juneau protest fatigue,” she said.
The rally at the Capitol will have an atypical background: Scaffolding obscured by plastic. Marble work on the Alaska State Capitol is ongoing. Rally participants are starting to gather across the street from the steps.
This week, Juneau isn’t just the capital of Alaska. It’s the hub of an international investment world, and a local environmental group is scheduling around that.
The International Forum of Sovereign Wealth Funds — a globe-spanning group of state-owned investment funds like the Alaska Permanent Fund — is having its annual meeting in Juneau this week.
So, Juneau 350 is hoping to capitalize on the international audience with a climate change rally today at the Alaska State Capitol. Organizers said they hope to spread a message encouraging decision-makers to stop investing in fossil fuels.
Speakers include Alaska State Writer Laureate Ernestine Saankalaxt’ Hayes, local student climate activist Linnea Lentfer, University of Alaska Southeast professor David Noon, 350 Juneau co-chair Elaine Schroeder and SEACC indigenous engagement lead Heather Evoy.