Sunrise Movement stages climate change art protest in front of Monongalia County Courthouse

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The Morgantown Sunrise Movement chapter, a youth environmental group, held what they called an ‘art protest’ in front of the Monongalia County Courthouse on Wednesday.

Coordinator for the group, Jonah Kone stated that the initial idea was to take part in a national climate strike, for Earth Day, but because of the COVID-19 outbreak, they decided it would be irresponsible to hold any sort of rally, and instead opted for putting up signs that relay the group’s message.

There were more than a dozen signs put up by about four people, including Kone, that stated messages to highlight issues with climate change.

“The crux of the message that we want to get out there is this pandemic is consistent with what is happening with climate change increases global health pandemics and they will only get worse unless we act,” Kone explained.

The idea of an art protest was their own idea, and not passed down from the national organization because each chapter is fairly autonomous, Kone stated. Overall, they are all trying to accomplish the same goal and that is passing the Green New Deal legislation.

Kone said the legislation mirrors the New Deal that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt passed in the 1930’s, but it focuses on environmental justice, climate change and the energy sector.

The primary target audience of their movement, Kone said, are younger generations whose futures will be directly impacted by climate change.

“To any college students paying attention to this, if you’re not focusing on climate change all of your future dreams are moot so please join up with us we are mainly political organization,” Kone explained.

“We focus on demanding accountability from our elected leaders and in West Virginia, we’re particularly focused on ending our economic dependency on natural resources and we believe that a different West Virginia is possible, a West Virginia that is not the second poorest state in the nation, a West Virginia that has a diversified economy and promotes good-paying union job that pays people a livable wage in sectors that do not exploit our planet.”

Jonah Kone

The protest was in collaboration with the Movement for People’s Democracy – Appalachia, a group that focuses on labor rights.

Kone emphasized that anyone who would like to join the Sunrise Movement, can visit their Facebook page to learn more. He explained that they are still having weekly meetings, via Zoom, on Wednesday nights.

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