London looked slightly different on last Easter Break with many fewer cars. From April 14th thousand people from Extinction Rebellion (XR) occupied key locations in the city shutting the roads down to the traffic. They were shouting to the government to act against this climate crisis. XR went on rebellion.
XR went on rebellion
The group of protester were born in 2018. In November they occupied five bridges in London for one day. This time, they did it for 10 days.
Tina Jacout from XR said to BBC then: “We have tried marching and lobbying, and signing petitions. Nothing has brought about the change that is needed.”
During winter the group spreads to many cities and countries. Due to it, on Easter Week the protest has been substantially bigger. There were demonstrations in many countries and cities in the UK but the main event was in London. As the website says: “An eco-revolution has begun”.
Traders in the West End warned that the protests cost them tens of millions of pounds.
XR’s goes on rebellion to cause disruptions as usual, with an unspecified length, so the Government had to listen to their demands. Those are three:
Firstly, “Tell the truth” by declaring a climate and ecological emergency. Scientists believe we are heading to the sixth mass extinction. Many species are going to extinction every day.
Secondly, XR urges the Government to “Act now” and reduce green gas emissions to net0-zero by 2025. The Paris Agreement gives as deadline 2050. However, due to reports from IPCC, the situation seems to be more urgent.
Finally, the third demand is to be “Beyond politics”, set a national citizen assembly with experts and stakeholder to vote for recommendations on the climate and ecological crisis.
During the week of protests Michael Gove, Environment Secretary expressed certain sympathy at BBC The One Show. “We got the message. We understand that actions need to be taken. But some of the activities that have been doing on the streets has actually stopped people doing their jobs and moving around London in the way is appropriate.
The actions were completely pacifist. Nonetheless, in the end, there were more than one thousand arrests, but not a single violent report, according to the Met. Police only officially charged 69 people.
Though Met commissioner, Cressida Dick, condemned ‘miserable’ disruptions on Sky News, she also pointed there has been not in the recent history of the UK such a massive protest with no injured.
The rebels were very keen on non-violent actions. They knew how to deal with police action. They just sit on the road, chanting, and leaving the police do their work without resisting. However, they try to do it as difficult as possible without collaborating. Several officers had to act to remove a single rebel. Rebels trust in their size.
They use some technics like glue themselves, handcuffing themselves to each other or locating under a truck or on a top tree. This force the police to act slow and cautiously. In that vein, they were rotating on shift to look after the key points.
Adan Leigh, a student at the University of Manchester, was arrested twice. Nevertheless, he said it worth it. He says that the present doesn’t matter because “we have no future”.
Davie, from Norwich, said she was proud for being arrested: “I have never been arrested. But by not doing something is almost a crime against humanity. So, criminal records for me means nothing, because this is the right thing to do”.
Phil Kingston, 83, said he wants a future for his sons and grandsons while he ate a sandwich on train roof in Canary Wharf.
Though there were police actions every day, most of the time officers quite friendly. It is something the rebels recognise them in many chants: “We love you”.
The Londoners had different opinions. Most of them understood, and more or less, share the rebel’s claims but some of them were upset for the way to get it.
Daily life in the camp
On April 15th, XR went on rebellion and occupied five main points in London: Marble Arch, Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus, Parliament Square and Waterloo Bridge.
In Marble Arch, beside Hyde Park, was the main camp. Thousands of people went there from all around the country. Some went a few days while others were in London all week. During Easter Break backups went to the camp.
Oxford Circus was the place where the rebels docked their pink boat. While the rebels blocked one of the busiest commercial roads in London they spread their message at the bottom of the capitalist heart. Same at parliament square. It was remarkable to see these roads with no cars and people dancing.
Waterloo Bridge, on the other hand, was like a small garden. On the beginning, many rebels carry on there trees and plants, set a tiny skate ramp and park there a stage-truck for gigs.
In Marble Arch, Parliament Square and Waterloo Bridge there was a kitchen where rebels gave free vegan food. Donations were welcome, though. Afterwards, Extinction Rebellion said they had raised around £200,000 in small donations, most of them between £5 and £10
All the tasks were organised by volunteering shifts. Alex Lu, at the wellbeing tent at Marble Arch, said the people were very happy to help however they could. “(Some people) are not arrestable but they have other skills. People like to feel useful in the community.”
Some places had a proper sound system and other just with little speakers. Everything was right to cheer up the protests. Jake Rigby, from Manchester, admits people want to have a good time, too. “Celebrating life is part of the process. Enjoy music, lay on the sunshine and chatting with friends it is all expression of love”.
An important part of this plan was when and how to leave our last location at Marble Arch. The discussion of this question began on Monday in citizen assembly. A majority agreed to hold a closing ceremony at 5 pm on Thursday 25th.
Before they left London there were more actions. On the trains, on the Natural Museum of London and Parliament Square for welcoming the Mp’s.
After those 10 days, Extinction Rebellion got a peak on its social media. It has more than 160,000 followers on Twitter and Facebook. On Instagram more than eight million; and more than 400 local groups around the world.
Extinction Rebellion went back to their local areas for spreading its message. Also, they warn “There will be more actions soon”. Extinction Rebellion will go on