Newsletter 24: They fought like (nonviolent) Scotsmen
June 26, 2019 by Extinction Rebellion
(You can sign up for this newsletter here)
‘I had no idea that history was being made. I was just tired of giving in.’
― Rosa Parks
Holyrood Rebel Camp in Scotland. Photo by Leda Bartolucci.
Welcome to our 24th newsletter!
This fortnight has been so jam-packed with action, we’re starting to think we need another newsletter to pick up the overflow. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster, as ever, but one we are fiercely proud to be riding.
We rejoiced with the Scottish Holyrood Rebel Camp, as they came together in their hundreds to put pressure on a new Scottish climate bill. We cheered on the European rebels at Cannes-Lions as they waded into a high-security ad industry festival.
Thank you for reading and sharing our handbook, which is now in its third print run and made it into Amazon’s top 10 list. We still encourage you to support your local bookstore, wherever humanly possible.
The bold actions of over 6000 Ende Gelaende protestors in the Rhineland were thrilling and inspiring. The drone footage of thousands of white-suited activists storming a massive open-pit coal mine is truly epic.
Across the Atlantic, 70 New York rebels were arrested in an action that demanded the NYT go further in their reporting of the climate crisis. They scaled the NYT building and made a human extinction symbol in the road.
In UK politics, the announcement of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate change is definitely cause for celebration. The concept of a CA has made its way into the mainstream, and this is a step forward. However, our third demand has not yet been met, as there is no obligation for the government to act on the conclusions of the proposed CA, meaning there is a chance its report could be effectively relegated to the parliamentary shredder. We want to see governments bound to listen to CAs – this is real power to the people. Have a leaf through this XR Citizens’ Assemblies Guide, hot off the press.
Another welcome announcement for UK climate protectors is that Britain is likely to host the UN COP26 talks, the major international climate talks in 2020. This green spotlight on our country could force our government to admit that we need to take serious action to live up to our claim of being ‘climate leaders’.
This video of (now suspended) Tory MP Mark Field assaulting a Greenpeace protestor left us all in shock, but determined to rise up in solidarity. Though the protestor reacted with admirable grace, her experience exposed the violence that lurks just beneath the surface in our unequal system.
Internally, XR has been deep in strategy talks, restructuring and plotting for the months ahead. The Actions Circle is currently consulting with the movement on a new, reworked Heathrow action proposal and planning fresh national, coordinated actions to build momentum towards the autumn rebellion.
UK arrestees, please read this message from Arrestee Support. Help us get the word out by forwarding this onto any folks you know who were arrested in the UK.
On a lighter note, this appeal to join together and love the planet by Lil Dicky won a bronze lion at Cannes! Warning: the cartoon swears.
Oh, and we have a new podcast episode out now! Enjoy.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can help, please check out our guide.
To connect to rebels in your local area, get in touch with your nearest XR group. If there’s no active group near you, you can start your own! Stay up to date with local upcoming events here, or start your own event by filling in our talks and trainings form!
If you can’t spare time, but can donate money instead, please see our fundraiser page.
If you’d like to help us organise on a national level, we could use your skills in all sorts of areas from writing to tech to ideas to logistics. To join the effort, enroll in ‘XR University’, a buddy scheme for integrating new rebels into the ranks.
If you’re new, or haven’t fully got to grips with everything XR, have a read of this to get to know our history and the principles and values that guide our work.
- Recent Activity
- Upcoming Activity
- Act Now
- International Highlights
- News & Recommended Content
Holyrood Rebel Camp
16-20 JUN | Scottish Parliament, Scotland
XR Scotland established the Holyrood Rebel Camp for five days in
parkland close to the Scottish parliament, as ministers debated the new
climate bill. Hundreds of day-trippers joined the community of about a
hundred campers for XR Scotland’s biggest ever gathering.
By day, rebels took part in workshops, talks, and art-making; by night,
there was lively music, poetry and cèilidh dancing. It even had its own
bell tent toilet.
The camp quickly made its mark by being the launchpad to an array of dazzling and disruptive actions. The children of the camp kicked it all off with a ‘Wee Rebellion’, and the next day locked-on rebels lay on roads and glued themselves to pavements to bring central Edinburgh to a standstill.
Rebel attempts to chain themselves across the entrance to Holyrood on the day of the vote were dashed by a heavy and somewhat aggressive police presence. But those tenacious rebels still managed to create a ‘funnel’ that forced the arriving ministers to pass their colourful placards and bask in their memorable songs. Many arrivals voiced their support for the protestors.
Even after the politicians’ devastating lack of ambition was reported, the camp remained a hive of ideas, debates, and plans going forward. There were die-ins outside parliament, and extended bouts of morale-boosting raindancing back at camp. It was a truly joyful and inspiring five days, and the fighting spirit burns stronger than ever across Scotland tonight.
Despite five days of courageous actions by rebels to make the Scottish Parliament face the true scale of the climate crisis, ministers passed a new climate bill last week that stuck to the irresponsible targets set by the Committee on Climate Change, with Scotland now aiming to be net zero by 2045.
Thank you to the brave rebels who stood up against inadequate action from their government in this time of emergency. For more photos and running updates from throughout the five rebellious days, check out the XR Scotland Twitter feed.
Ende Gelaende Storm Coal Mine
19 – 24 JUN | Rhineland, Germany
More than 1000 activists from the environmental alliance protest group Ende Gelaende (‘Here and No Further’) stormed into an open-pit coal mine, evading a German police cordon, and stayed overnight. Meanwhile, thousands more activists constructed blockades of the national coal infrastructure elsewhere. With over 6000 activists in the Rhineland that weekend, including XR rebels, this represented one of the biggest environmental protests of recent times.
70 Arrests at New York Times HQ
22 JUN | Manhattan, New York, America
Photo by Jefferson Siegel
On Saturday afternoon, a group of XR NYC rebels blocked the road outside the New York Times main offices. Hundreds staged a sit-in, while several climbed atop the building’s overhang, demanding more climate coverage from the media outlet. They also stressed the need to transition from using the term ‘climate change’ to ‘climate emergency’ when describing the state of the planet.
Police threatened to seize anyone who refused to clear the road; no one did. 70 rebels were arrested, but not before they had disrupted traffic for over an hour and attracted the attention of the national press.
Yes we Cannes!
17 – 21 JUN | Cannes Lions festival, France
XR France and UK rebels joined forces to disrupt the advertising industry festival, Cannes Lions. Despite heavy policing, the rebels managed to quickly plan and pull off some fantastic actions.
Things kicked things off on Wednesday with a ‘Tell the Truth’ banner drop over the giant Cannes sign (above) and a red carpet sit-in in front of the ‘Palace’. The 14 arrested rebels report having a long, productive discussion with an equal number of police officers at the station, expanding on the climate crisis and why XR felt the need to act.
The following day, the group staged a dramatic ‘swim-in’: rebels swam under a jetty, holding their banners underwater, and emerged in front of Facebook’s private beach to chant and sing their message. The week of actions closed in song outside the ‘Palace’, as the newly-formed rebel choir sang magnificent XR France chansons and (admittedly less poetic) UK numbers in alternation to an audience of people queuing along the red carpet.
As one of the first explicitly collaborative international actions, the group happily reports that strong bonds were formed between French and English rebels, with pledges flowing to support each other’s actions in the future. See here for the full summary of the week of actions.
Amsterdam Canal Funeral Procession
17 JUN | Amsterdam Canal to City Hall
XR Amsterdam enacted a bold protest last week. Rebels guided a funeral canal boat through the city’s canals, complete with coffin, pallbearers and a trumpet player. Standing in support on the bridges were 200 additional rebels, who dropped striking XR banners as the boat passed beneath them.
Afterwards, the boat came ashore and the rebels disembarked. With the coffin on their shoulders, they weaved their way back through Amsterdam’s streets. Each time they crossed a bridge, more rebels joined them. The entire procession was utterly silent, except a few sombre speeches and a requiem outside the town hall which marked the close of the event.
The protest was a tribute to those who are suffering and dying in the face of climate disasters. But it also anticipated a meeting that took place two days later, in which the city council voted on a motion declaring a climate emergency. In addition to their funereal procession, XR rebels spoke at multiple sub commissions which preceded this vote.
Happily, their work paid off. Amsterdam’s council declared a climate emergency on Thursday 20th June, the first dutch municipality to do so.
Dinner of Hope at NHM
20 JUN | Natural History Museum, London
XR Families staged an action at the NHM to disrupt the annual dinner of the Petroleum Group, an organisation dedicated to further exploiting our planet’s diminishing resources. XR put on a banquet of its own in protest on the green, where food was brought and shared by rebels.
Speeches were given by rebels who had met with the NHM director earlier in the week, and by representatives from Aar Li Nu Bokk UK, the movement for protecting Senegalese common heritage. They were there to protest the BP-sponsored state corruption and environmental exploitation in Senegal. They joined in with the XR drummers to create a happy racket.
Later, more rebels swarmed the road in front of the NHM, singing, chanting and blocking the road to disrupt the arrival of the dinner guests.
Meanwhile, XR Youth held a sit-down for two hours in the museum’s main hall, under the blue whale skeleton where the dinner was due to take place. The dinner had to be moved to a side room. More details on this action here.
‘Petroleo and Fueliet’ at BP Screening
11 JUN | Trafalgar Square, London
Photo by Gareth Morris
XR Lambeth held an action to disrupt a BP-sponsored Royal Opera House screening of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in Trafalgar Square. The protest targeted the live preview event, where a presenter in the square was beamed to numerous screenings across the country. Some rebels infiltrated the crowd with red banners and costumes to upstage the event, while others played live music and performed their own version of the play on the square’s outskirts.
A few rebels even waded into a fountain to thwart attempts to keep the protest out of shot. We cannot allow extractivists to promote their image in a way that hides the truth of their impact on our planet. Read the full story here.
Decentralisation is a key element of XR’s ethos. So while high-profile actions will often take place in the big cities, we’re eager to celebrate all the amazing actions across the country and the world every week. If you’re involved in your local XR scene, in whatever part of the world, and if you’ve got a story to share, please email email@example.com with ‘Story Contribution’ in the subject line.
RCA Fashion Action
7 JUN | Cork Street Galleries, London
Photo by Terry Matthews
Rebels caused a stir when they staged a die-in in the middle of a fashion show. Fashion is one of the most wasteful and polluting industries, and it’s time for it to stop. This action was in tandem with the XR Fashion Boycott, which urges people to give up buying new clothes for at least a year, in an effort to break the destructive and unsustainable cycle of overconsumption. Read the full account of the action here.
Let Lewisham Breathe
14 JUN | 7:30 – 9:00 | London, UK
Photo by Joe Twigg
South London rebels demand more action be taken on unlawful pollution levels in the capital. About 50 rebels blocked traffic at three major junctions in Lewisham, Catford and Deptford. The rebels unfurled banners in front of vehicles and handed out leaflets and the usual ‘peace offering’ cake to drivers. Warm and supportive reactions outweighed the occasional honks and revs. Bill McKibben even tweeted to thank XR.
Protestors contacted schools in the area in advance to minimise disruption to GCSE and A-level exams. A good few students who didn’t have exams joined in the action with gusto. Outside Lewisham train station, a young rebel handed out brownies to passersby with his mum. Lewisham schoolgirl Ella Kissi-Debrah was remembered, who died from an asthma attack aged nine in 2013, now thought to have been caused by air pollution.
Let Camden Breathe
19 JUN | Camden, London
Photo by Joe Twigg
Wednesday afternoon, 5:30pm, the normal rush of cars through Camden Parkway was nowhere to be seen. In its stead, XR Camden rebels stood with a radiant yellow banner, protesting the illegal levels of air pollution in the borough.
XR Oxford and Greenpeace against BP
15 JUN | Oxford, UK
XR Oxford rebels joined forces with Greenpeace to let BP know exactly what they think of their continued search for new oil sources. We can’t give up and let oil giants carry on with business as usual because that means giving up on a habitable planet and our kids’ future. The UK government has announced a target of net zero greenhouse emissions by 2050 – we have to start enforcing it.
XR Surrey Pension Fund Committee meeting action
7 JUN | County Hall, Kingston-upon-Thames
Five XR groups from SW England banded together to demand that the Surrey pension fund divest from fossil fuels. Rebels packed the committee meeting, sang and showered committee members with petals and leaves. The meeting was adjourned. You can see the video of the action here.
10-year-old Melie Foussat summed it up: ‘I am very disappointed and confused that you are investing money in fossil fuels, to look after old people in the future. But, by investing in fossil fuels, I will not even have a future. Can you please try to look after me too?’
‘Blood of Our Children’
11 JUN | Leinster House, Dublin, Ireland
Photo from XR Ireland Twitter
XR Dublin clutched red flowers in poignant scenes outside Dáil Éireann (the lower house of the Irish Parliament.) Rebels in business garb spilled fake blood onto those wearing white, a symbol of the suffering and death brought upon future generations by a past of uninhibited money-making.
The action came as a Climate Emergency Measures Bill was brought before the Dáil on Tuesday. The bill would limit the number of licenses issued to extract fossil fuels in Ireland. Sadly, it did not receive the necessary financial commitment from government to move through the house.
Youth4Climate rebel poet
21 JUN | Kendal Market Place, Cumbria, UK
Still from video by Laura Wallace
After a die-in outside Kendal County Hall, this young man stood up to give a moving spoken-word performance. Dressed as a penguin.
XR Waltham Forest stand up for their trees
22 JUN | Waltham Forest, NE London
XR rebels show up to defend their local greenery. These park plane trees are currently under threat by the local council.
Sur le Pont, Rébellion!
28 JUN | 10:00 | Paris, France
Don’t miss XR France’s biggest action to date. Hundreds of rebels will be coming together to occupy a key bridge in Paris. Join us to share in a day of lively music, speeches, workshops and rebellion. Bring picnic blankets, percussion, and games to share! Sign up for the action here and claim your role and watch out for more details soon!
Parce que le désastre écologique et humain est à l’œuvre et que nous devons nous y opposer sans délai: SUR LE PONT, RÉBELLION !
Extinction Procession at Glastonbury
27 JUN | 16:00 – 17:30 | Glastonbury Festival, UK
Going to Glastonbury and up for a challenge? Will you help us make the largest ever human sculpture of an hourglass to symbolise our time running out? Join us at 4pm at Park Stage for some great speeches and then join our procession to the Sacred Space in the King’s Meadow in the Green Field – and take on our challenge! More info here.
‘This is a Crime Scene’ Procession
2 JUL | 14:00 – 18:00 | Route TBC, ending up in Trafalgar Square, London
Fossil fuel companies and the banks that invest in their dirty work are complicit in ecocide, greedily destroying our world for their own profits. We will be calling these parties out, one by one, and declaring their offices to be crime scenes, as our procession marches through London. Join us in holding them to justice.
Streets for Life
6 JUL | 08:00 – 20:00 | TBC, Central Cambridge
Cambridge City Council and Cambridgeshire District Council have declared an emergency, but they fail to act on the growing pollution problem. This action will open up several streets to the public and ban dirty cars, so come and join in the community fun!
Christian Climate Action Training Day
6 JUL | Wycliffe Baptist Church, Reading, UK
Christians today are well-trained in many aspects of Jesus’ ministry, but we can neglect his more radical teachings that led to him being arrested and crucified. Join in the CCA training to find out more about how we can witness through non-violent direct action (NVDA). Tickets are free, but booking up fast. Bring a mug and some food to share.
Culture Declares Emergency Assembly at The Roundhouse
8 JUL | 13:30 – 18:00 | The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London
Calling all musicians, writers, theatre makers, producers, actors, visual artists, filmmakers, and ANYONE who identifies as an artist! Culture Declares Emergency is holding an assembly for all creatives to come together and discuss what role culture has to play in the climate emergency. This event is part of London Climate Action Week, which will focus on how London can take practical action at a local, national and international level.
East London Uprising
12 – 14 JUL | Various sites around East London, UK
XR groups from across East London are coming together to create a weekend of play, protest and education. Through creative and participatory activities, the Uprising will both bring our message on climate and ecological breakdown home to East London, and envision a better, greener future at the local level.
All Rise For The Planet: A 2030 SHOW TRIAL
13-14 JUL | Tate Modern Museum, London, UK
All Rise For The Planet is an immersive creative experience not to be missed! The year is 2030 and climate destruction is in full swing. The Establishment is on trial for climate crimes and complicity, given everything they already knew back in 2019. You take your seat in the jury and get to decide, based on evidence presented to the court, whether parties like the media, academia, the government, industry, and the citizenry are found guilty. This event is in collaboration with Plan B Earth, 198 Contemporary Arts & Learning, and Guerrilla Foundation.
‘Requiem for a Dead Planet’: Newspapers, Tell the Truth!
18 JUL | 12:30 – 14:30 | Northcliffe House, Kensington, London
Photo by Francesca Harris
XR’s Tell The Truth group will be staging a peaceful protest outside Northcliffe House (HQ of many newspapers, including Daily Mail) to ask the media to declare a climate emergency and join in the effort to save the planet. There will be model skeletons of extinct animals present, requiem music will play, and stories will be read out about people who are already losing their lives in the climate crisis. The event will culminate in a big die-in.
We need as many people as possible to attend this action. The TTT group also asks rebels all over the UK (and beyond!) to stage similar protests outside their local newspaper offices.
Join the Northern Rebellion!
30 AUG – 2 SEP | Manchester, UK
It’s the North’s turn to rise up for the climate and ecological emergency. We want to keep up the momentum after the International Rebellion and the government’s declaration of a climate emergency. XR MCR remembers the rallying cry of those other Manchester rebels the suffragettes and demands ‘deeds not words’. We need to act now.
Let’s get down to the business of radically changing the way we live and think with six days of non-violent civil disobedience, talks, workshops, art, performances, music and a coming together of energy and ideas. It’s time to face the emergency and take the steps needed to save our one planet Earth.
Londoners, the North travelled down in flocks to support the Rebellion in the capital – it’s time for you to show up for your fellow rebels up North!
Join our webinar: What is a Citizens’ Assembly?
27 JUN | 20:00 – 21:00 | Online
Learn more about our third demand calling for a Citizen’s Assembly on climate and ecological justice to guide our Government onto the right path. We are in the midst of an emergency. The challenges we face are big, complex and affect us all. We should all have a say in how we fix this mess. Join this webinar on Thursday to learn more about the proposed Citizens’ Assembly, why we desperately need one and how it would work.
Read and share: ‘This Is Not a Drill: An Extinction Rebellion Handbook’
Have you read it yet? Our first ever book tells the truth! It describes the current ecological crisis with stories from the front line, with contributions from a firefighter in California to the President of the Maldives. The second part sets out what you can do, with a detailed handbook that every activist needs!
Meet your MP in person
A message from newsletter reader, Charlotte:
‘I made an appointment to see my MP to ask his position on the climate emergency. While I cared about politics before, I never considered meeting my MP about any particular issue until now. Now I know it is necessary.
He said I was the first person to come and see him about a genuinely political issue in several years which was a shock to me. Who knows if what I had to say about our future, our children’s future, his children’s future had any effect, but I am sure that if more of us make an appointment to see our MPs and tell them in person that the climate is our priority, it is better than not doing it at all.’
You can find your MP here and make an appointment via their constituency surgery.
Photo by Sarah Cresswell
Sign a petition to help a rebel friend
Help a rebel friend. Croydon rebels are calling on their council to tell the truth and declare a climate and ecological emergency. Help us raise the alarm, sign the petition. If we together reach 2000 signatures, the council will have to accept the petition and debate it. We are already halfway there, will you help us reach the finish line?
Sign a petition to ban open fridges and freezers in all shops
Ever get annoyed when someone leaves the fridge open? Thousands of shops across the UK unnecessarily waste huge amounts of energy on open fridges and freezers. And all that while there is an easy solution, add a door or a lid. Sign this petition to ban open fridges and freezers in all shops (not an XR action, but worthy of some rebel power).
12 JUN | Norweigian Parliament
Six rebels were arrested for interrupting a parliamentary session in Oslo with a protest speech demanding that the government declare a climate emergency (video here). The rebels were held for 12 hours and reportedly given the biggest fines in XR history: 118.000 NOK (10,886 GBP). We salute you, brave Norweigian rebels.
13 and 17 JUN | Government offices, Oslo, Norway
XR Norway rebels blocked the entrance to the PM’s office on 13 June to protest the government’s plans to continue extracting oil from 25 countries until 2070. The rebels appealed to our duty to future generations; many read statements on behalf of the young and unborn, including the father of Herik, eighteen months, who had his son in his arms as he spoke.
Just a few days later, rebels blocked the entrance to its Ministry
for Climate and Environment, in condemnation of the Norwegian
government’s inaction on climate targets. Despite being part of multiple
international climate agreements, they continue to push compliance
dates into the future. They have recently invested in a massive road building programme and approved a record number of new licenses for oil exploration. They are one of the few countries in Europe with higher emissions in 2016 than in 1990. In addition, they own one of the world’s largest oil companies. Here’s hoping the rebels’ voices were heard.
‘Our Blood’ action outside Swiss Parliament
6 JUN | Bundesplatz, Bern, Switzerland
Photo by Patrick Frauchiger. Find more of his stunning photos from the event.
On 6 June, the Swiss parliament decided how much money it would invest in the European climate budget. With fake blood and a non-violent die-in, rebels called on ministers to act now to prevent the sixth mass extinction of life on earth.
26 JUN | Gas refinery, Haifa
Photo by: Michael
21 JUN | State Library, Melbourne
22 JUN | Die in at Forest Chase, Melbourne
Photo from: Tobias Busch
21 JUN | Brisbane
Hundreds of rebels marched across Victoria Bridge, stopping rush hour traffic and glueing themselves to the road. Frank, pictured, along with six other Rebels were arrested but only two were charged.
24 JUN | Sydney
Rebels joined hands and had five minutes of silence before singing as they marched through Martin Place.
‘Extinction Rebellion: l’onda green che sfida l’Europa’
Italian journalists Valentina Petrini and Maurizio Martorana produced this moving 13-minute documentary on XR.
Inside XR Ireland mini-doc
Spend 7 minutes getting to know fellow rebels organising in Ireland with this Irish Times video by Kathleen Harris.
Everyone who has been arrested needs to read this message from Arrestee Support. We are still missing contact details from many arrestees, who we want to support and communicate new information to. Please pass this onto anyone you know who was arrested in the International Rebellion or has been since.
Note about Legal Observers from Legal Support team
A group of LOs who are also involved in XR are reviewing our LO situation and advising Legal Support on solutions. Until their work is finished, we would appreciate local groups not organising their own LO trainings.
Meanwhile, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to request Arrest Watch trainings. These are 1-2hr online sessions on how to plan actions in a legally sound way, how to set up an effective arrestee support ecosystem, and what kind of things ANYONE could do at an action without having to be an LO. Thank you for your cooperation.
Form: All Affinity Groups Please
We want to make sure affinity groups are in the loop, contactable,
and ready to organise for the autumn rebellion and for actions over the
coming months. PLEASE FILL OUT THIS FORM
to share your affinity group needs as we begin uprising preparations.
This is especially important if you’re in an affinity group that has
formed since April, as you might not be on our radar and could miss out
on critical updates.
New Podcast Episode OUT NOW
In their first episode since April’s International Rebellion, XR Podcast discusses ‘the future’.
This episode, the team talk to Christiana Figueres, architect of the 2015 Paris Agreement, writer and Guardian columnist George Monbiot, and Jem Bendell, Professor of Sustainability Leadership at the University of Cumbria.
Look out for the new podlet coming out of Glastonbury very soon!
Appeal to join ‘Labour For A Green New Deal’
With only three months to go until Labour conference, and the Labour Party appointing a new shadow minister for Climate Justice and Green Jobs, the activist group ‘Labour For a Green New Deal’ need your help to get their conference motion passed in as many CLPs and Trade Union branches as possible, and make sure a truly ambitious raft of green measures become official party policy. If you are a Labour Party member or affiliate and want to pass the motion in your local branch, let them know.
Writing for Rebellion
A new working group is looking for experienced and/or enthusiastic writers. We’re hoping to become a wellspring of written materials, prioritising longer-form considerations of XR and the cultural, political and scientific aspects of the world around it. These will be for publication in this newsletter, on the XR blog, and the main website (and possibly also in mainstream journalistic publications). If you’d like to help us with writing or editing, please email email@example.com with ‘Writing’ in the subject line.
Printing for Rebellion
Do you have access to mass printing services? Would you be willing to offer cheap/free printing of this very newsletter for the Rebellion? If yes, we would love to hear from you. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Eco-friendly/recycled paper options very much preferred.
Inside XR UK
You can sign up to our internal news email for a weekly round-up of activity from within the UK working groups.
With all the amazing work going on, this is a chance to touch base, get alongside each other, and make sure we’re moving forward together.
XR at GreenBelt Festival
23 – 26 AUG | Boughton House, nr. Kettering Northants
GreenBelt festival is a unique opportunity to experience 19 stages, galleries, installations and outdoor performances, all energised by a progressive Christian worldview. XR have been invited to be a significant contributor to the programme this year, and we will be running workshops, taking part in climate change and civil disobedience panels, and hosting our own XR tent.
We would also love to do some actions during the festival; die-ins, funeral marches etc.
If you are attending GreenBelt this year and would like to support XR’s presence, please contact Rob Husband on email@example.com.
Request: The Self-Organising System Team needs YOU!
A team at XR UK are piloting a Self-Organising System to run the organisation and need more rebels to test it out. If you are already a cog within the XR machine, have frustrations about how things are currently organised, and are interested in ways to improve them, we want to hear from you! You can read more and sign up here.
- A rebel writes about struggling with words to explain the climate crisis and the need to feel and connect
- A rebel mum’s blog on Family Activism
- Juliana Muniz Westcott’s children’s book ‘Our Fight’ helps take the first steps to explain the climate emergency to young kids
- An XR evolutionary psychologist’s piece in The Ecologist, ‘Cultural Evolution and Neoliberalism’
- An interview with Rupert Read from XR Political Strategy team
- Extinction Rebellion video clip to Radiohead’s Idioteque.
Greenpeace activist Janet Barker speaks about her experience of being manhandled violently by Tory MP Mark Field. She is graciously not pressing charges, instead recommending he take an anger management course to better manage his violent emotions. Meanwhile Jonathan Cook deconstructs the corporate media response.
‘Four years ago, climate change barely registered as an election concern in Denmark. But […] polls now show that 46 percent of voters rank climate change as their top concern, compared to 27 percent in 2017.’
Elsewhere, the Canadian government has just declared a climate emergency and the Japanese government has announced its emissions reduction strategy which emphasises ‘innovation’ in carbon capture & storage and hydrogen and fails to significantly challenge the country’s reliance on coal.
‘Farmers in southeast France counted the costs from lost harvests on Sunday after a fierce storm battered the region with hail the size of ping-pong balls, decimating orchards and vineyards just as the summer season was kicking into high gear.’ They will now have to deal with the extremely high temperatures which have started to hit mainland Europe this week.
Temperatures had peaked at 22 degrees above normal the previous day, June 13th, causing an estimated 2 billion tonnes of ice melt on that day alone. For comparison Carbon Brief report that cold-war spy photos reveal ‘doubling’ of glacier ice loss in Himalayas – ‘from 2000-16, the Himalayas lost an average of 8bn tonnes of ice per year. From 1975-2000, ice loss averaged 4bn tonnes of ice per year.’
‘Does [BP] have the right to associate itself with Shakespeare? Does it even have the right to have the word ‘British’ in its name when it is arguably destroying the planet our children and grandchildren will depend on to breathe, drink, eat and survive? […] I feel I must resign as I do not wish to be associated with BP any more than I would with an arms dealer, a tobacco salesmen or any company or individual who willfully destroys the lives of others alive and unborn. Nor do I believe would William Shakespeare.’
Full speech here. ‘We live on an island full of rivers where it rains a lot. Our seas are progressively rising and our rivers are increasingly raging. Unless we tackle this, in a few decades many areas of the UK could be uninhabitable. Parts of this country risk being retaken by the sea, from which there is no coming back. And much of the rest of the country risks being constantly and lethally threatened by river or coastal flooding. If that doesn’t sound to you like an emergency, I’d be interested to know what does.’ Unfortunately he’s another one pathetically describing the situation as an ‘opportunity’ for further economic growth: ‘By 2030 the cost of global adaptation to climate change will be up to $300 billion a year. That’s a huge new market.’
(the town of Wainfleet after recent flooding in Lincolnshire – source)
That’s around four times higher than the previous estimate of 150 and still likely a considerable underestimate, as ‘the list includes only those species that scientists have looked for and recorded.’ In related depressing news The iconic tree thought to have inspired ‘The Lorax’ has suddenly died. The species itself, the Monterey Cypress is included in the UN report warning of 1 million extinctions ‘because its limited natural habitat is located in a tourism-heavy area that has a high risk of fires.’
XR has been criticised from various quarters for political naivety and privilege, especially with regard to the role of the police and the true nature of the state. The quickest way to remedy this is probably to experience repression first-hand, but a less painful way (!) would be to learn the history of past movements, their successes and failures and the official (and unofficial) reprisals they faced. This would hopefully have the benefit that XR would not repeat their mistakes, but also that we would gain strength and courage from viewing ourselves as part of a long history of struggle, building on their victories and learning from their tactics and philosophies.
As Howard Zinn put it: ‘history is very important for people to not get discouraged, [it] is instructive. And what it suggests to people is that even if they do little things, if they walk on the picket line, if they join a vigil, if they write a letter to their local newspaper. Anything they do, however small, becomes part of a much, much larger sort of flow of energy. And when enough people do enough things, however small they are, then change takes place.’
So, with the 34th anniversary passing on June 1st it seems like a good time to revisit the so-called ‘Battle of the Beanfield’ of 1985 in which the Thatcher government targeted the burgeoning new age traveller movement with shocking police brutality and ensuing criminalisation of that itinerant way of life.
The 1991 documentary, Operation Solstice provides an evocative snapshot into what happened on that day, the background context and the ramifications for the alternative culture which are still being felt to this day. Andy Worthington’s work, including a book on the subject is well worth checking out via his website. He has a number of articles which usefully chart the ongoing activist movements which followed on from these events, including this recent one mentioning XR.
‘We’d worked so hard over the years to establish ourselves and become part of society again by saying “This can be a normal way of life, there is nothing wrong with the way we want to live, please accept us’ […] Obviously the police and the state tried to stop us, and it was for that reason that I personally took action because I wasn’t going to sit back and let them take my lifestyle away from me that easily […] I’m a fighter!” – Mo Lodge, quoted in ‘Operation Solstice’, 43:50
Thank you for reading. There’s so much exciting stuff going on that we barely have time to write this sign-off. Keep up the good work! If you have any questions or queries, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This newsletter was written collaboratively by a hivemind of 12 rebels.
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