Through a Photographer's Lens: The People's Climate March in Pictures

On April 29, I was one of over 200,000 people in Washington, D.C., to attend the People’s Climate March. I was connected with Cherri Foytlin, a representative of indigenous people, to take photographs to support her article for AlterNet. One of dozens of distinguished speakers who opened the rally, Foytlin delivered an impassioned speech about defending indigenous lands and respecting the rights of the people.


The march stretched from the capitol to a fully surrounded White House sit-in. Members from a broad span of indigenous tribes gathered in traditional dress, performing sacred tribal customs, such a sage burning and a rite for welcoming the day.

Punctuating the urgency of global warming, the weather on that Saturday was unseasonably hot and took a toll on the marchers. Many speakers cited that the past three years were the warmest on record, each year warmer than the last.

Children found a way of beating the heat by running under huge canopies, while spectators marveled at the innovative structures, puppets and displays along the route. Some of these structures were over 30 feet long, requiring teams of marchers to support them while impressive cartoonesque likenesses of Donald Trump could be found, one swinging a golf club at planet Earth on a tee.

As amusing and well-crafted as these messages were, the seriousness of Trump's anti-environment policies was impossible to escape. Several scientists at the march presented teach-ins to demonstrate the impact of global warming; in particular, the catastrophe awaiting the planet if society doesn't soon shift away from fossil fuels and toward a system based on renewable energy like solar and wind.

“Remember Standing Rock” was echoed throughout the day as a variety of advocates connected the climate crisis to social injustice, recognizing that the people most affected by the impacts of climate change are the poor and disenfranchised. The fact that climate change is a human rights issue as well as an environmental issue, was repeated in multiple speeches and interviews throughout the day.

Here are some of the photographs I took during the People's Climate March:

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With the Capitol Building as a backdrop on an unseasonably hot Saturday, an empty podium awaited speakers to deliver their message to the massive crowds gathering for the People’s Climate March.

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Speakers representing numerous political, social and environmental organizations rallied the crowd at the opening press conference. 

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Mildred McClain of the Environmental Justice Leadership Forum on Climate Change held a banner in front of Capitol Hill.

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Protesters had some blunt messages for the president and his administration.

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Before the march, indigenous Americans performed ceremonial rituals.

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The day was filled with the sound of drums as indigenous leaders performed sacred rituals.

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A protester in a King Trump costume demonstrated one of the president's favorite pastimes—with the planet as his target.

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On Pennsylvania Avenue, over 200,000 marchers took to the street with flags, puppets, banners, canopies and costumes.

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“Keep it in the Ground” was a theme repeated by the Standing Rock Water Protectors fighting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

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“The frontlines of the crisis are the forefront of change.“ Indigenous Americans and climate justice protesters led the march to the White House.

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Beating the heat, kids helped carry colorful protest canopies that later became part of an art installation laid out at the DC Mall.

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A banner held in front of Capitol Hill broadcast the major themes of the day. 

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Protesters chanted, "Can you hear us, President Trump? When our planet’s under attack what do we do? Stand up, fight back!”

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Surrounding the White House, demonstrators participated in a sit-in beating their chests to represent solidarity and a united heartbeat.

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A massive "mobile sculpture" overlooked a group of protesters at the DC Mall.

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A protester animating a puppet of President Trump worked the crowd in front of Washington Monument.

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Repurposed protest signs were used to create an art installation on the lawn between the Washington Monument and the White House as a message to Trump to be seen from the air. 

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Trump was aboard Marine One as it flew above protesters at the end of the march, on his way to his rally in Harrisburg, PA.

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