Hundreds of students from around Milwaukee gathered at Zeidler Union Square to rally in support of solutions to the climate crisis, before marching to Wells Fargo and Chase Banks downtown on December 6.

The newly formed People’s Climate Coalition organized the Milwaukee Climate Strike, a continuation of the September climate strike events that took place in Milwaukee and cities around the world that called for action be taken to address climate change.

“Since 2016, Wells Fargo and Chase Banks have loaned more than $347.3 Billion to the fossil fuel industry. It’s time for them to stop,” said the group in a public statement. “We demand that both banks halt financing the fossil fuel industry and reinvest those funds into renewable energy sources and sustainable infrastructure through equitable practices.”

A small group of protesters entered the Wells Fargo Bank at Water Street and Wisconsin Avenue and blocked lines to the teller windows. Police responded when participants refused to leave.

Eleven individuals, including MPS teachers Monica Pallo, Michele Hilbert, and Alex Brower and Rufus King alumni Lauryn Cross were among those arrested for taking part in non-violent civil disobedience blocking an entrance. All eleven were released from custody.

The Milwaukee coalition brought together members from 350 Milwaukee, Youth Climate Action Team, Gaia Coalition Network, Extinction Rebellion Milwaukee, Sunrise Milwaukee and NextGen WI, along with individuals concerned with protecting the environment.

One of the participants of the peaceful sit-n that took place at Wells Fargo released a public statement via social media.

“I’m a person who always thinks critically about their image and messages they convey.

Being arrested for nonviolent civil disobedience isn’t needed to help pass the message of youth frustration with climate inaction, but can send a powerful message.

Being arrested isn’t needed to make the statement that black and brown people living in Milwaukee are facing the impacts of not always having access to clean water , clean air and clean food a lot harder than others, but can help uplift their voices.

Being arrested is not something that black and brown youth activists should welcome first when trying to get their message across.

Sitting in Wells Fargo across from chase bank with refusal to move until corporations who claim to be for the community does send a message.

Sitting amongst community members united for the same cause does send a message.

My message I wanted sent was that I am tired of living in a city where homes on the north and south side of Milwaukee live with higher blood lead levels than the majority of the nation

My message I wanted sent was that I am tired of the city investing more money in police than our health department who could take the necessary actions to help at risk families in Milwaukee.

I continue this fight because I am fully invested in the faces I see everyday, faces that look like me and faces that don’t . I don’t think that I have been given insurance as to a reason to stop and I won’t until the day I do.”

– Lauryn Cross, Organizer at Youth Climate Action Team (YCAT)

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Photos by Joe Brusky and Griffin Larson, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0