Nearly 300 people, of all ages, rallied for the environment on President Donald Trump’s 100th day in office. The Southwest Florida People’s Climate March was a sister march in the worldwide Peoples Climate Movement, which hosted marches in more than 300 cities on every continent but Antarctica. Florida hosted 23.
That number is significant to Ariel Hoover, who has been rallying for environmental justice for just as many years. At Saturday’s rally, she was painted green from head to toe, paying no mind to the 90-degree weather.
“I’m green because I want people to understand that every small action we take can either help or hurt the world, and this is one way to get attention,” Hoover said.
Hoover is a part-time resident, who will be moving down permanently next year. Hoover’s husband wasn’t with her at this march, but he was at a sister march in Boston. Environmentalism is something she says she’s passed onto her spouse, children and grandchildren.
“I was an ESL teacher, English as a Second Language, for 30 years almost, and I began to read because I had to sometimes teach science to the ESL students,” Hoover said. “So, that’s what got me started — the thought that this beautiful world would not exist and that all the people I’ve loved throughout my career wouldn’t have what we have.”
As the marchers approached the Edison Bridge, Hoover paused at the sidewalk’s entrance. She said she wasn’t sure her 70-year-old knees could handle the hike, but AJ Amedure passed by with his megaphone once more. And, Hoover suddenly had the energy to make it halfway up the bridge with the rest.
Amedure led the crowd in its two-mile march from Centennial Park downtown to its stop at the banyan tree in front of the Fort Myers courthouse and, eventually, across the southbound Edison Bridge. This route — and the chants that came with it — took Amedure five months to plan.
“I was inspired by Bernie Sanders originally,” Amedure said. “He’s been a big proponent of climate change justice, and unfortunately, a lot of politicians in Washington, especially the Trump administration, flat out deny climate change and its existence and its impact.”
Amedure started the group, Anonymous Movement of Southwest Florida, when he moved to Florida four years ago.
“I’m not so much into hacking or anything like that, but the idea of being able to stand up without necessarily being recognized and persecuted for it because a lot of people are afraid to come out and march because of their employers and things like that.”
The group draws inspiration from the international hacktivist group, Anonymous, best known for sporting Guy Fawkes masks like those made famous by the book and movie, “V for Vendetta.” But, at the march, Amedure’s face was only obstructed by his sunglasses.
J Crean only recently got politically involved, but so far in 2017, he has marched in this and three other social and environmental justice rallies.
“I don’t like the direction the country has been going. There’s too many things that are trying to drag us back to the past when the skies were filled with pollution and the air quality was bad,” Crean said. “It makes me sit around and go, ‘Gee, you know, people aren’t getting it, so I’m going to go do some things that help to inform people and show people that people are serious about improving the world and saving the world.’”
The Peoples Climate Movement’s 2017 march drew hundreds of thousands of rally goers to Washington D.C. Saturday as well as thousands more across the nation and the world.