Miami-Dade County

It’s mostly about climate change as protests dwindle on day two of debates

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Democratic debates in Miami

Ten Democratic presidential candidates, including Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, participate in the second night of debates at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami.

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In the hours before the second half of the Democratic presidential debates, the streets surrounding the Adrienne Arsht Center for Performing Arts were not as rowdy as they were a day earlier.

Compared to Wednesday’s groups of protesters, counter-protesters and demonstrators, the scene outside was tame.

Maybe it was just too hot and too humid to protest two days in a row.

Among the more energized was the coalition of climate change activist groups who gathered at the Freedom Tower before marching toward the Arsht Center. While Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said the debates would feature a “robust” conversation on sea level rise and carbon emissions, many demonstrators were irked by the less than 10 minutes spent on one of the most pressing issues in South Florida.

Several speakers gave speeches on how climate change is an emergency that disproportionately affects people of color and low-income communities. Demonstrators dressed in snorkeling gear, life jackets and shark costumes listened closely.

“The most vulnerable in our community are feeling it now,” said Clinicians for Climate Change founder Dr. Cheryl Holder.

Holly Zickler, 57, came back to the demonstration with a pair of snorkeling goggles on her head. She said Wednesday night’s candidates mostly gave lip service when it came to climate change, but only Gov. Jay Inslee “felt the issue in his bones.” There were just too many people to keep track of in two hours.

“The best thing for us to do is to have a debate on climate change because that would make everybody have to do their homework,” Zickler said.

Those who joined the climate change activists for round two of sign holding and chanting included about two dozen Trump supporters, a man holding a “SEEK JESUS” sign and dozens of SEIU members. The NYPD union members who protested Wednesday against New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and the demonstrators against the Homestead child migrant shelter were not there.

Local SEIU member and nurse Martha Baker said the group came back because the issues at stake, like immigration and access to healthcare, matter. The union members migrated from the back of the Arsht to the corner of NE 13th Street to bring up the energy.

“It was like a ghost town over there today,” she said.

Thursday night’s list of candidates: former vice president Joe Biden, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, California Senator Kamala Harris, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell, former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper, and Marianne Williamson and Andrew Yang.

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