Two young girls sat atop the Idaho State Capitol steps the morning of June 1, looking over a field of shoes and banners—a bid to raise awareness about climate change and also giving a nod to the murder of George Floyd.
“This is a protest to show that people care about climate change and the racial issues that are happening right now, even if they can’t physically show up due to COVID,” said 14-year-old activist Neala. “We put shoes out to represent people protesting in spirit.”
The protest was put together by the environmentally oriented youth group Extinction Rebellion, which has staged numerous demonstrations in Boise in the past, including one at Chase Bank in January. The group collected 436 pairs of shoes that it will donate to children in need after the protest.
Neala and her fellow demonstrator, Emma (14), said they had originally planned the display as a form of climate activism, but as the events unfolded about Floyd, they decided to incorporate a voice for that injustice, as well. Neala said some people disagreed with the idea, but they wanted to try to highlight how people can come together over collective issues, weaving in the social justice references.
“My kids and their kids and generations past, they won't get to enjoy the same luxuries that I did,” said Emma. “And it's just an important issue to me.”