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Activists want federal funds for climate, social justice initiatives 

click to enlarge A few dozen supporters of federal legislation to fund climate, health care, education and other initiative gathered Thursday in front of the Federal Office Building on State St. in Rochester - PHOTO COURTESY RANDY GORBMAN / WXXI NEWS
  • PHOTO COURTESY RANDY GORBMAN / WXXI NEWS
  • A few dozen supporters of federal legislation to fund climate, health care, education and other initiative gathered Thursday in front of the Federal Office Building on State St. in Rochester
A few dozen people representing various environmental and social justice groups gathered outside the federal building on State Street Thursday. They're pushing Congress to pass a $3.5 trillion federal reconciliation bill.

One of the organizers, Allen Blair, called for members of Congress to back a "Green New Deal" agenda.

“Climate, care, jobs and justice. So we’re interested in tackling global warming. We’re trying to make sure that everyone who needs medical care can get it. We’re looking for a decent living wage for everybody,” Blair said.

click to enlarge Left to right: Breyana Clark, Chaka Moxley and Kim Smith at a rally in front of the Federal Office Building on State Street on Thursday. - PHOTO COURTESY RANDY GORBMAN / WXXI NEWS
  • PHOTO COURTESY RANDY GORBMAN / WXXI NEWS
  • Left to right: Breyana Clark, Chaka Moxley and Kim Smith at a rally in front of the Federal Office Building on State Street on Thursday.
The activists, Blair said, are also looking for racial justice. He says without environmental issues being discussed in terms of racial justice, the tackling of global warming is meaningless.

That sentiment was echoed by Kim Smith, a local activist who won a Democratic primary for Rochester City Council in June.

She said it’s important to talk about the impact of climate change on Black and brown communities.

“Hotter, wetter, longer summers have led to a lot of health disparities among chronic illnesses such as asthma, heart disease, respiratory illnesses,“ Smith noted.

Organizers of the rally want to see Congress move ahead with the full $3.5 trillion package of investments in areas that include education, climate initiatives, paid leave, education and health care, before completing action on the federal infrastructure bill.

Randy Gorbman is the news director at WXXI News, a media partner of CITY.
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