Sunrise Movement Columbus Holds Transit Rally at Statehouse
As dozens of cars buzzed along the downtown stretch of High Street, around sixty people gathered at the Ohio Statehouse on Saturday afternoon to rally, parade, sing, sing and advocate for more accessible and environmentally friendly public transport in the city and the state.
Organized by the Columbus Center of the Sunrise Movement, the “Columbus Rally for Public Transit and a Green Future” began and ended at the Statehouse with a march to Battelle Riverfront Park and the downtown office of US Senator Sherrod Brown taken. sandwiched between the two.
Chants of “What do we want? Transit! When do we want it? Now!” and “Find bus, not Bezos,” echoed through the city’s quiet streets.
Saturday was largely an effort by the local Sunrise Movement to lobby for Brown’s support for the Stronger Communities Through Better Transit Bill, proposed by U.S. Representative Hank Johnson, D-Georgia, in early June.
If enacted, the law would invest $ 80 billion in transit systems budgets over a four-year period, with $ 20 billion per year from 2023 to 2026.
Regina Loayza, 18, is part of the Sunrise Movement Columbus communications team. Created in 2017, the Sunrise Movement is a political organization with local branches in the United States that advocates for climate change proposals and legislation, including the Green New Deal.
Loayza said she wants to see Brown support stronger communities through better transit because she believes transit is a part of solving the climate change puzzle.
“People don’t always see the link between public transit and climate change,” she said in an interview. “Making sure we switch to electric or green modes of transportation would make a big difference. “
Loayza is a sophomore at Ohio State University in New Albany, but she was born in Lima, Peru.
She joined the Sunrise Movement in early 2020 because climate change is an issue that is close to her. She is worried about Peru, a country she says could be hit hard by climate change.
The weekend’s protest was also the culmination of a transit advocacy campaign that Sunrise hubs around Ohio have collaborated on for several months, according to Loayza.
“We had a big win a few months ago,” Loayza said.
For the local Sunrise Movement, this was a victory in the form of legislation.
Brown presented a bill Along with US Senator Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois, and US Senator Bob Casey, D-Pa., it would devote $ 10 billion in grants over 10 years to make transit stations accessible to the standards of Americans with disabilities. (ADA).
Victoria Abou-Ghalioum, hub coordinator for the Sunrise Movement Columbus, largely led the crowd.
“Who drove here today because that was the only option? Abu-Ghalioum asked everyone gathered in front of the Statehouse. Several people raised their hands.
But Patricia Fly, who lives on the West Side, didn’t raise hers. Fly was one of the first to arrive at the rally – by bus. She said she relied heavily on Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) buses to get around Columbus.
“Free public transportation would be useful for the working class and for the poor,” Fly said in an interview.
She said she also wanted COTA to operate more frequently and be made available to a wider range of residents so carbon emissions could be reduced in central Ohio.
“People don’t have to worry about finding a car or taking a Lyft or something to get around town,” Fly said.