Student-led protest targets port project

“If the younger generation could vote, 90% of us would say no.”

Dejea Lyons, 16, addresses the protesters at the waterfront protest Friday. – Photos: James Whittaker

Wielding placards and megaphones, a group of young Caymanian students led several hundred people in a protest demanding action on climate change and calling for a halt to plans for cruise piers in George Town harbour.

Joining millions of young people around the world for global climate strike demonstrations Friday, students from Cayman’s Protect our Future group staged a rally on the waterfront.

They were joined by a colourful array of protesters, many of them using the event to put fresh focus on the controversial plan for a cruise berthing facility.

“We have no Planet B,” one sign proclaimed.

“Coral before cruise ships,” declared another.

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Along the roadside, someone in an inflatable T-Rex costume tottered between protesters, holding up a poster that stated, “We didn’t believe in climate change either.”

One of the cheekier contributions said, “hands off the Queen’s bottom” – a reference to the name given to the ocean floor around Cayman, which legally belongs to the queen.

Passing cars honked their support as the group made speeches and chanted words of protest on the waterfront opposite Guy Harvey’s bar and restaurant.

The demonstration was one small part of a massive worldwide protest demanding action on climate change. Inspired by the youth movement started by Swedish school striker Greta Thunberg, young activists led protests around the globe.

The Protect our Future Group is leading the call for swifter action on climate change and demonstrating against the cruise port development.

Dejea Lyons, a 16‑year-old Cayman International School student, said the student-led Protect our Future movement wanted to use the event to urge Cayman’s leaders to better protect the environment.

She said the group was also urging Cayman to “say no to the port”.

“I am so upset that I can’t vote in the referendum,” she said. “I feel if the younger generation could vote 90% of us would say ‘no.’ We are going to live with the consequences.

“We want the adults that can vote to hear us because we are the ones that are going to be clearing up the mess.”

Fellow protester Ben Somerville, 16, said the protest went beyond the port debate. He said young people across the world are now demanding governments take better care of the planet.

For today’s teenagers, he said, the impacts of climate change were not a distant problem, but something that would impact them in their lifetimes.

The National Trust and several other non-governmental organisations were also involved in Friday’s event.

A wide variety of signs called attention to the cruise port debate as well as wider environmental concerns.
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  1. Look… I’m all for being a good steward of our environment, but these kids really need some perspective. Get out and travel, see the world. Meanwhile, in Linfen China you can hang your laundry out and, it will be black before it dries. Go to Costa Rica where you get sick driving behind old diesel buses billowing out smoke to the point you can’t see the road, etc.etc… Cayman has always done an excellent job of controlling its pollution when viewed from a world perspective.

  2. It doesn’t look like a whole lot of people turned up for this. I think the silent majority still wants the dock even with as much noise keeps getting made. Most people don’t want to see any change, regardless of age.