Join the rally with Our Children’s Trust youth at the Eugene Federal Building on July 18th, 2018. The crowd cheers the plaintiffs and lawyers as they appear for a hearing in the landmark court case Juliana vs. United States. Youth plaintiffs are suing the federal government for the right to a livable planet and claiming the atmosphere is a public trust. Members of the crowd, and Avery McRae, one of the youth plaintiffs, are interviewed by Karen Rainsong about their thoughts and concerns about this case.
Our Children’s Trust Courthouse Rally 2018
Transcript by Jade Rainsong
(Karen:) The crowd is going wild in the background here. There’s so many signs. It says let the youth be heard. A lot of people are down here and they’re all excited and it looks like you’ve got great support. We’re here at the hearing at the downtown federal courthouse in Eugene. Today is July 18th, 2018. This is a landmark hearing. These plaintiffs that are suing the government for climate change, for a right to a livable planet just got notice five days ago or so that they had to appear for a hearing before a judge. So we raced down here with our equipment and we’re going to talk to some of the folks and some of the plaintiffs if we can and find out how they feel about this what’s going on and how the public feels about this surprise hearing and this court case in general.
All right. I’m here with one of the plaintiffs outside of the courthouse. Tell me your name?
(Avery:) Avery McRae
(Karen:) Avery. So tell me how old you are.
(Avery:) I’m 12
(Karen:) 12. Wow, you must be excited and nervous. How do you feel today with this hearing?
(Avery:) I’m pretty excited. I’m pretty optimistic feeling good. Yeah, mostly excited a little bit nervous, but mostly excited.
(Karen:) So this was sprung on you guys pretty recently like six days ago or something.
(Avery:) Yeah. So yeah, it was pretty recent and you know, Even if it was recent, you know, our lawyers are all prepared and we got this.
(Karen:) That’s awesome. So you feel pretty good that your lawyers are ready to stand for you and stand up I hear that crowd is going wild in the background here. There’s so many signs that says let the youth be heard. Youth versus gov is the hashtag and a lot of people are down here and they’re all excited I think and it looks like you’ve got great support and I know it’s hard to get a big rally together when you just have six days notice and Country Fair in the next right?
(Avery:) Yeah. Yeah. We actually spoke at Country Fair to be able to kind of get people riled up out there.
(Karen:) And I’m so glad you did. That’s how I heard about it. And that’s that’s how come I got to be here. Yeah. It’s an hour long hearing. Is that right?
(Avery:) Yes. That sounds right. Yeah, and then there’s a press conference after.
(Karen:) Yeah. So tell me really quickly why you got involved with this- what called you to be a plaintiff in this case.
(Avery:) Well, basically when I was in kindergarten, I read a book about snow leopards and I learned that they were endangered and I was super sad and I didn’t feel like I could do anything and then my mom was like Hey, you could throw a party for them and raise money for the snow leopard trust. I was like, oh, that’d be really neat. So I did that as a kindergardener. I just asked for donations and by the end I’d raised about $200 for the snow leopard trust, was super exciting. Next year I did the same thing for wolves and raised about $250 for Oregon Wild. Third year the same thing for salmon and raised about $300 for McKenzie River Trust here in town. So that was super cool.
(Karen:) A little bit more every year.
(Avery:) Yeah. Yeah, you know like the more friends I invite and stuff and then I did a few camps with Our Children’s Trust and I was feeling I was feeling pretty empowered and then they asked if I wanted to be part of the federal lawsuit. So I accepted.
(Karen:) It sounds like animals are really your passion.
(Avery:) They are.
(Karen:) That’s great. I’m so glad you’re doing this and I speak for myself, but also so many people out there when we thank you for standing up for all of our rights and the rights of the animals and the planet. It’s exciting what you’re doing.
(Karen:) All right, great. So we’re up here on the steps the Federal Courthouse building and what’s your name sir?
(Paul:) Paul Wilson.
(Karen:) All right Paul. And can you tell me a little bit about why you’re here? I know you’ve got a nice sign and you’re standing with a group of other folks here at the rally.
(Paul:) Well, I’m here because the kids that are here have filed suit against the United States our future leaders and if anybody’s going to be able to bring about positive change, they’re the ones and I’m here to show my support for them.
(Karen:) Awesome. That’s great. I happen to agree with you and think that the youth are doing such a great job and I’m so proud of them for standing up for all of us and for the environment.
(Paul:) Me too.
(Karen:) That’s great. Thanks for being here. One of the lawyers has just walked by the aisle here next to all of the rally participants. They’ve given him a big round of applause. Everything is getting really exciting because it’s almost 2 o’clock when the hearing will start and there are a lot of people with 350.org t-shirts on a lot of beautiful signs. People are coming out in support of these plaintiffs. Hi guys. So can you tell me a little bit about what brings you out to the rally today?
(?:) Yes, I’m with 350 Eugene which is a group that tries to get the word out about environmental issues because we need to keep 350 parts per million. That is the allowable carbon dioxide that scientists have said is allowable for humans to exist like they have for the last thousands and thousands of years. So we’re trying to get there. We’re currently at 410 parts per million. So we’re trying to get that down. Our Children’s Trust is suing the Federal Government because in 1965 the government knew that fossil fuels were polluting.
(Karen:) Sorry to interrupt, it looks like somebody else is coming by that’s got the crowd all riled up. Okay. Continue, please.
(?:) They knew from studies that fossil fuels were polluting the atmosphere which is part of the public trust doctrine. So under the Fifth Amendment the public trust doctrine states that all governments have to protect the environment for future generations and this generation. Future generations are having their natural resources taken away from them and polluted on, air, water, etc. from the fossil fuel industry. And they knew that, the fossil fuel industry. That’s the nature of this suit so 350 Eugene has been following this since its inception when it’s first in the suit started and so that’s why you have so many 350 Eugene people here as well as a bunch of environmentalists.
(Karen:) Right. I see that we got some more plaintiffs heading up the stairs into the courthouse now. Kelsey Juliana there she goes smiling, waving to the crowd, everybody’s cheering her on and supporting. Thank you so much for that explanation. I actually was wondering what the 350 meant.
(?:) Most people don’t know what 350 means so that’s usually our first thing. You know, you start with that and then they go oh that’s what the 350 is all about.
(Karen:) You know, I saw I have on my dining room table a really fabulous color brochure. You guys did like a booklet all about climate change and all about the statistics and it was really enlightening to see on paper facts of how the government knew in advance. They’ve known for you know decades about this problem, this issue. I think that’s like you’re saying the nature of the cases that proving that they knew and didn’t do anything right?
(?:) And the other thing is is what’s really hold true here in Eugene is not only this trial but also our city government our city councilors and mayor have passed a climate recovery ordinance back in 2014 updated in 2016. So we’re they are trying to meet a 50% reduction in fossil fuel use community-wide in the city of Eugene by 2030 which is a huge commitment to do that. So that’s the other chore that 350 Eugene is trying to do is to get awareness to the community along with the city has just started rolling this out. And what we’re trying to do is get awareness to outreach to the community neighborhood associations etc. to let the people know how they can reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and to to meet this goal because I mean, it’s got to start somewhere our federal government under this administration is not going to do that. They’ve actually worked against that they’re the ones that’s the reason why we’re all here is because they don’t want this trial to go through and we should be taking the other approach which is to start heading out of fossil fuels, I mean, it’s been proven that renewables will provide enough energy for the United States.
(Karen:) And and like you said that you know the states and the local governments are the ones that are having to take action and pass their own laws and their their own ordinances to try to control this because as you said we’ve seen there isn’t any leadership from the Federal Government on that.
(?:) Exactly and that’s what that’s why 350 Eugene has gotten so active we have over 2,000 members in the City of Eugene on our website and our website contacts and so that’s our thing is you have to start locally in order for this to go on and I mean there’s there’s thousands of it’s a worldwide organization 350.org. We’re just this local one Portland has a great one. There’s several down in California, and we’re all working together to eliminate fossil fuels on the west coast.
(Karen:) Well, thank you so much for speaking with me today and clarifying some of those points were really excited to see how this turns out and hopefully those plaintiffs will just you know, they’ll win the day in there. So thank you. All right. So tell me your name.
(Michael:) Michael Kerrigan.
(Karen:) And your with calc, C A L C?
(Michael:)Yeah, Community Alliance of Lane County, CALC.
(Karen:) Yeah. All right, great. Can you tell me a little bit about what they do?
(Michael:) Well CALC’s mission is to educate and mobilize folks to work for peace, justice, and human dignity.
(Karen:) We’re so glad you’re here and doing that great work. Thank you. Yeah, so you’re here in support of the plaintiffs at the hearing downtown Eugene.
(Michael:)Yeah. I’m really proud of these young people for taking on the Federal Government. We want a future at just there. They’re young they’re strong. They’re committed here today to support them and say go for it. We have your back.
(Karen:) That’s that’s such a great sentiment. I know I hear you. I feel the same way.
We’ve got your back. So have you been following this case from the beginning?
(Michael:) Yes, I yes I from from from day one. Yeah I’ve been following the case and in addition to being a peace and justice activist. I’m an environmental activist as well. And so I just totally support what they’re doing.
(Karen:) And how long have you been doing this kind of work? Have you been out at your whole life?
(Michael:) I’ve been at it since the late 70s and I moved here and late 1980 and I’ve been an activist in Oregon, Portland and Eugene, Salem.
(Karen:) Fantastic, and so how can people find out more about CALC and how they can get involved?
(Michael:) Well, they could CALC has a Facebook page they can they can go there or calclane.org, which is our website. We got lots of stuff going on. I’m I’m a long time peace activist. We have our annual Hiroshima Nagasaki commemoration come up on August 6, I want folks to turnup for that. And we you know, we’ve had some work in Springfield. We successfully got the Springfield City Council to say no to ICE no to ICE detainees in their jail.
Got some young people working on that her just amazing. So it’s not just we longtime activist in CALC. We got a group of young activists as well that are. I’m going to keep doing this work for decades and decades to come so I’m optimistic because people are taking action now.,
(Karen:) Right right and supporting the next generation of activists is a big part of that. I hear you say.
(Michael:) Yeah as a key part both here and also my experience out of the fair this past weekend what I love about it. I love many things about. But there’s so many young people’s not just the age aging hippies doing it. It’s a multi-generational event that really gives me hope that and all that we can keep doing this work and save the planet for years and years to come.
(Karen:) It’s just so crucial to get the young people involved and I know a couple of these plaintiffs personally through family connections and living here in Eugene.
So some of the Eugeneian’s our family is connected with and so I just know that there are. Strong confident young people and so wise for their young years.
(Michael:) That’s just amazed at that age. I was not doing what they’re doing me want to find went to college. I slowly became a activist.
I was just after the Vietnam War. So things are kind of quiet when I was a young person so it took me a while to get to get moving, but it was the environmental. They’re really got me going. And so that’s why I’m here today because they these kids are saying let’s save the planet and we are going to do that and I want to support them in every way that I can.
(Karen:) Fantastic. Thank you so much Michael. Thank you. Thanks for being here.