Students against climate change protest at courthouse

Protesters gather outside of the Westmoreland County Courthouse on Sept. 20. Members of the Seton Hill University and Greensburg community came together to take part in the protest. Photo A.Long/Setonian.

The recent rise in protests around America has garnered lots of attention, both positive and negative. 

Sept. 20 marks the date of a nationwide strike against climate change. Despite the massive turnout, even in our small Greensburg community, there were many people who viewed the protests as a nuisance rather than a Godsend. 

“I was standing next to this lady who was holding a sign about recycling and a woman yelled out of her car, ‘What if it was your kid,'” said Brianna Franzino, one of the speakers from the Voice of Westmoreland who hosted the protest. 

Franzino continued to state, “That woman automatically assumed that we were there for some kind of abortion protest… and that showed the ignorance of some people.” 

Many protesters experience words and acts of hate while they rally, and sometimes assumptions can be made against them. 

“I always get upset that there are so many police officers, and they often stand around counter-protesters. It can be seen as a way to keep people separate, but it also feels like those are the people that they are focused on protecting,” said Chloe Walls, a student at SHU who has been to protest in the past. 

Large organized protests are typically guarded by police officers in order to protect everyone’s safety, but it can be construed as an act against protesters. 

“They usually stand with their backs to the counter-protesters and face the protesters, and that is where I see them showing that they are on their side, not yours,” said Walls.

One of the biggest issues that many people have with protests is what gets left behind. “There is always so much litter and trash,” said Walls, “And that’s really frustrating because we’re here to peacefully protest, so leaving things behind and causing that environmental impact takes away from the idea of the protest being peaceful.”

Amongst these disturbances are troubles from within.

“There were people who were trying to cause a divide when others were trying to give a speech. One woman complained saying, ‘Why are you doing this here when you should be out on the street.'” said Chesianna Havko, a sophomore at Seton Hill University. 

Havko was referring to her experience from the Climate Strike protest outside of the Greensburg Courthouse last Friday.

“It was sad to see people who were fighting for the same goal dividing themselves.” Havko said.

“It’s sad but I don’t know if I’ve noticed a difference in our community since the protest,” said Havko. “People just went about their regular day.” 

The negative side-effects, connotations, and aftermaths can cause a rouse in anger, but protests can only make a difference if we allow them to.

Published by Caitlin Srager

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