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Youth protesters call for President Biden to halt I-5 expansion, take action on climate

Protesters continued their ongoing push to stop the I-5 expansion, this time with the president's visit in mind.

PORTLAND, Ore. — President Biden’s visit to Portland on Thursday lined up with an ongoing climate action protest led by local teens. Sunrise Movement PDX is fighting to stop ODOT’s planned expansion of Interstate 5. With the president's stated focus on infrastructure and the environment, protesters who attend the bi-monthly rallies hope their message resonates with him.

“We are telling Biden to fulfill his climate promises and telling him to be a climate leader,” said protester Danny Cage.

A New York Times article featuring the efforts of the youth-led Sunrise Movement made it feel to many protestors like they were gaining momentum for their cause.

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“It's really important that the youth are heard on this issue,” said Jacob Glass, who also attended Thursday's demonstration. “We're the ones facing this climate crisis head-on. We're the future of this planet and this freeway expansion is really harmful.”

During his visit, President Biden spoke about roads and bridges and why he's prioritizing making them better and safer, especially in case of a large earthquake. The teens said his concerns should go beyond that, and focus more on public transit and renewable energy.

“Work like this is important, climate change is important, this is our future,” said Glass. “Elected officials need to be bold enough to act on it and also to care.”

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Cassie Wilson, 23, lives in Clackamas County. She co-founded Sunrise Rural Oregon after the 2020 wildfires. She shared her experiences with climate change during the protest.

“The entirety of [Clackamas] County was under some sort of evacuation order and it was terrifying,” said Wilson. “Ever since then we've only seen more and more and more impacts from climate change already happening on a local level.”

It's unclear whether President Biden heard the teens' message, or if he'll advise against moving forward with the I-5 expansion. But for Wilson and others, the climate fight as they see it will last a lifetime.

“It's hard to plan your future when you don't know what that future looks like,” said Wilson.

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