Update #5 – Police turn Pirates: The Pink Boat is Lost!
April 20, 2019 by Newsletter team
Friday 19th Apr – Day 5 of International Rebellion
It was a sad day for London’s Rebellion, as the beloved pink boat was lost amid a stormy sea of police- men and women. The neverending party was at last put on hold… for a few hours at least, until we retook Oxford Circus and the new sound-system arrived!
And let’s not forget, Oxford’s adversity was every other site’s blessing: as the fate of the boat and its harbour hung in the balance, rebels in Marble Arch, Waterloo Bridge and Parliament Square were taking some well-earned respite. Free from policing-based worries, rebels were free to proceed with the concurrent project of building a new, kinder, quieter world in the heart of the old one. It doesn’t grab headlines, but this is the process that’s changing the world.
Not that we’re too worried about headlines, with nearly 700 now arrested in the UK alone, and frenzied coverage of even small events like that in Heathrow involving a handful of youths.
And speaking of Heathrow, we’ve got another solid round of actions abroad: from bike-rides in Belgium to roadblocks in Germany.
Amid all the news and events, it can be good to remind ourselves why we’re giving so much for this movement. As a little refresher and ego-trip, here are the world of Noam Chomsky, one of the most influential thinkers of our age, on Extinction Rebellion:
“It is impossible to exaggerate the awesome nature of the challenge we face: to determine, within the next few years, whether organized human society can survive in anything like its present form. Global warming is already a prime factor in destroying species at a rate not seen for 65 million years. There is no time to delay changing course radically to avert major catastrophe. The activists of Extinction Rebellion are leading the way in confronting this immense challenge, with courage and integrity, an achievement of historic significance that must be amplified with urgency.”
High praise indeed – and we’re just getting started!
For a sonic supplement to our updates, please check out the XR podcast, releasing throughout the week.
If you’d like to help fund the mass rebellion as it expands across the world, please donate to our crowd funder.
In the annals of International Rebellion, Day 5 will be remembered as the day the pink party boat at Oxford Circus was finally cast adrift.
Police arrived in great columns just before midday, first kettling the boat then the entire square. They came with angle grinders, they came with climbing gear, and as Emma Thompson and XR Youth to finished their poetry readings they set to work, clearing the hull of locked-on Barnacles, cutting the power of the music system, and then cutting through the metal pins at the boat’s base. Rebels had no choice but to just sit and watch as the pink boat, named Berta Cáceres after the murdered Honduran environmentalist, was slowly cleared of its precious rebel crew. The sound guy went down with the ship, his hand glued to the mast.
But the reaction from the OC Rebels on witnessing this sad sight was one of beauty. There was applause for an inspiring talk by transgender activist Paris Lees; there was a heartfelt and raw rendition of ‘Power to the People’ led by a member of XR Youth that resulted in him being handed a megaphone and held up above the crowd; and there was a moving speech from a representative of ‘XR Dance For Life’, imploring rebels to empathise with the police, and show thanks for all the times that they have been there to keep us safe. The booming cheers and applause that followed packed a powerful emotional punch, for both rebels and officers, with one of the latter turning around to wipe away tears.
The always rebel-rousing Samba band then arrived from Marble Arch with the dazzling Red Brigade in tow. As the sail finally came down around 5:30pm, the atmosphere was electric. The crowd started chanting ‘we’ve got more boats’ and arrestable rebels blocked the boat’s intended escape route, meaning it could only be moved a matter of yards without further arrests.
As the daylight faded, the pink party boat was gone, but the pink party boat atmosphere remained in spades. A huge banner went up with the words “We Are The Boat”. The Rebels still had the square, a new sound system was found, and in between the dancing, discussions turned to how a new boat might be built. Within hours, a new cardboard vessel was emerging from the tarmac. At the same time, around 300 mourning rebels accompanied the boat on its funeral procession, walking before it and then stopping to wave goodbye as it sailed into the distance and an unknowable fate.
It’s only in hard times that we show the full depth of our movement: our resilience, our compassion and support for ourselves and each other, and our unchanging commitment to nonviolence. What an amazing day and a beautiful turnaround to what should have felt like a defeat. It really didn’t.
We’re happy to report that Parliament Square has remained the peaceful hub of climate learning and minimal policing that we all know and love. For once, high-vis jackets have been a rare sight for an entire 24 hour news cycle.
Buoyed perhaps by the Attenborough documentary airing the previous day, or the stardust of Emma Thompson (or possibly our positive review in Notices!), the induction and training tents of Parliament Square were positively heaving with eager attendees, their lines spilling onto the grass as they waited to learn about the ways of the Rebel.
Meanwhile the man living atop the very tall tree on the northside of the square is still there, doing his thing. Well done that man.
Hundreds of Rebels occupied the bridge all day, and had a fabulous time in the sun, with music and dancing. By 5pm there were very few police in attendance, though there had been some some arrests earlier in the day. Spirits remained high and the music loud even after several waves of police arrests. The XR contingent took the arrests in their stride with the bands continuing to play as the arrests occurred, accompanied by applause and cheers of fellow activists.
Peppy Dadd, 64, said ‘you feel like everyone is there for one another as well as the cause.’ She described how the frontline held by protesters had been renamed the heartline and that the heartline showed no sign of breaking with any fear around arrests disappearing as activities, music and fun continued throughout the day.
The aim of XR to create a welcoming atmosphere and to rebel with love and rage is in full flow at Waterloo bridge. Matt Phelps, a conservationist from Surrey, who this week has fit rebelling around his work said, ‘it just feels like there is such a positive atmosphere up here and it doesn’t feel like it’s going to end anytime soon.’ He also commented how the public were becoming increasingly aware of XR and its aims and that many people were coming down to Waterloo bridge to see what was going on and to support.
Five days in and the atmosphere is positive and the resolve is strong. In the words of one activist and grandmother Gerri Jacobs, who was arrested today: ‘I am here so I can look my grandchildren in the eye and say I did what I could.’ The heartline is holding at Waterloo bridge.
The atmosphere at Marble Arch remained chilled today, with a creative, playful mood taking hold as colourful bunting was erected. As rebel Ben said, “it’s begun to feel like home!” With it being a public holiday the area has been packed.
Photo: Andy Reeves
Rebels report that at least half of the public are interested in learning more and express support to the cause. The atmosphere brightened even more with the arrival of a Samba band, drums, yoga, and the election of a slackline. However, the police, as well as being present in greater numbers than yesterday, were noticeably more tense. Ben was warned for simply chalking on the pavement.
After stirring up quite the media panic by pre-announcing Heathrow airport as a target for a ‘shutdown’ action, what actually transpired was a small, contained, and emotionally powerful protest led by a small band of XR Youth.
Around 20 teenage Rebels occupied a road beside the roundabout between terminals two and three, raising a banner that poignantly asked “Are we the last generation?”. A huge police presence ensured they were quickly surrounded and pushed back onto a nearby pavement, and tears were shed by the brave young protesters, as they were told to disperse or face arrest. Four refused to budge for over an hour.
No flights were ultimately disrupted, but the immense police reaction and widespread media interest in the action made it game set and match to XR.
Coming up …
Saturday 20 Apr: A candlelight vigil
Sunday 21 Apr: An open feast
Getting involved in London’s Rebellion
The rebellion won’t last without Rebels. To maintain the pressure necessary for change, we need fresh faces to help in holding our locations. This could means being willing to sit in the road and face arrest – but there are many other ways to offer support, whether it’s stewarding, being a legal observer, bringing food to sustain fellow rebels or helping organise a site.
If you’d like to get started, come to Parliament Square. We’re encouraging any budding rebels to start their journeys here: there’s greenery, open space, and normally a very light police presence. Inductions take place at 11am, 1pm, 5pm and 7pm.
Or please, even if it’s just for a few hours, just get down to any site and ask how you can help!
Disclaimer: we’re deeply, deeply appreciate of our fellow rebels around the world, and will do our best to cover their incredible, moving and inspiring exploits – but we can’t promise to catch everything! If you have a story that we’ve missed, please email us at email@example.com with ‘Story’ in the subject line.
Today saw a massive NVDA, Block the Republic of Polluters, organised by multiple groups in Paris (video here and here). Over 2000 people were blocking multiple locations. Total’s headquarters, Societe Generale, EDF and the French Ministry of Ecology, Energy and Sustainable Development. It was an unprecedented mobilization in France. Brave protesters in Paris have been sprayed with teargas directly in the face!
“Emmanuel Macron has proven since the beginning of his mandate that he was the champion of business and not the climate one. By protecting the interests of big polluting companies at the expense of citizens, it blocks the political change we all need to deal with the climate and social emergency.” Bloquons la République des pollueurs
Yesterday also saw Paris action against the Norwegian embassy, with its entrance blocked in a “die-in” action. Norway is one of the richest countries in the world – but its massive wealth is built on the fossil fuels it extracts from the North Sea. “The world already has more well-known reserves of oil and gas than we can use. The Arctic must be left out of recovery.”
Today Extinction Rebellion Ireland joined the full-scale International Rebellion to demand decisive action from governments on climate change and ecological collapse. Rebels in Dublin took O’Connell Bridge with an amazing turnout.
Protesters gathered at The Spire in Dublin City Centre where there were speakers and music, including the Resistance Choir. After highlighting the ecological and environmental crisis there, they marched on towards O’Connell Bridge.
“There is no greater cause on Earth than Earth itself, and the struggle to protect life on this planet, our only home. Our leaders have failed us. This twisted system is killing us. It has us headed for extinction. It’s time to rebel. We’ll see you on the streets, rebels.” XR Ireland
#FridaysForFuture met #ExtinctionRebellion today in Cologne for a march followed by an impressive die-in, highlighting how the warnings about our life-threatening future have already become reality in the global south.
The night before, rebels had set up a roadblock to disrupt rush hour traffic before the Easter weekend near the main station. Police began arrests within the hour. There were “29 arrests for a fair & secure future”
BREAKING: @NLRebellion 50 rebels blocked the international headquarters of #Shell in The Hague, where they glued themselves to the entrance. Dozens of passers-by expressed support for the action. “Shell is one of the biggest polluters on the planet. We ask people to demonstrate to show we won’t tolerate Shell’s behavior. “
Meanwhile, students staged synchronized die-ins across 7 Dutch universities.
In Brussels, XR Belgium holds its first of many critical mass bike rides to claim the streets.
The award for most creative action by far goes to once again to XR NZ: a group in Dunedin, Otago highlighted the issue of sea level rise by staging a dinner party in the Anderson Bay inlet.
Whilst in Poland rebels held a car die in/on.
XR Seattle had an action on Monday 15th in solidarity with the beginning of International Rebellion at the Henry M. Jackson Federal Building on 2nd Avenue. There were speakers at the building followed by a die-in.
Thanks for reading!
Thanks for reading this International Rebellion Update. Our team will be sacrificing a lot of sleep and time on the streets in the coming days because we know that sharing information and sharing a narrative will be key to our success as a movement. We hope you agree!
We’ve already done so incredibly well; whatever may happen next, let’s not forget to take pride in what we’ve achieved so far. The change might not always be obvious, but because of what we’ve done this week, the UK and the world will never talk about Climate Change in same way again.
Enjoy reading about the highlights of London’s Rebellion? Well now you can listen to them too, thanks to Extinction Rebellion Podlets – mini podcasts about the day’s XR happenings. They’re being released every other day, and Episode 3, which focuses on ‘Green Futures’ and how XR families feel about the times ahead is available for your listening pleasure.
If you’d like to share a story from the ground or join our global crew of roving reporter ants, then please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’d also really like to hear the ongoing stories of XR Affinity Groups during this momentous week of Rebellion. Help make and share history by emailing email@example.com.
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