Courts gearing up to prosecute 1,000 Extinction Rebellion rebels - Extinction Rebellion UK

Courts gearing up to prosecute 1,000 Extinction Rebellion rebels

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What emergency? | Extinction Rebellion in Numbers

  • Nearly every rebel arrested during the April Rebellion to be charged
  • Courts gearing up to hear over a 1000 new cases 
  • Where is the public interest?: Extinction Rebellion calls on the Met and the CPS to drop all prosecutions

The Metropolitan Police is acting on its threat to prosecute over 1000 people arrested during Extinction Rebellion’s protests in April, which raised the alarm on the Climate and Ecological Emergency. [1]

Nearly all those arrested and released under investigation will appear before magistrates over the coming weeks, it was confirmed in a case management hearing this week. More than 30 people have been summoned to City of London Magistrates Court this Friday, with over 50 set to be called each Friday through August. All will be charged with breaching the Public Order Act.

Extinction Rebellion welcomes this extraordinary opportunity to take our message into the courts. These prosecutions give our rebels a platform to speak the truth about the dire situation we’re in. Our legal team also hopes to use these cases to set a major precedent in British law, establishing a citizen’s right to act in the face of emergency. We have just launched a CrowdJustice campaign to raise funds for defendants’ legal costs. [2] 

But we question the motivation of the Metropolitan Police. 

During the Rebellion, the police took a gentle approach and allowed our peaceful occupation of central London sites to continue for ten days. Only 70 people were charged at the time, most after being arrested more than once. But subsequent criticism that the Met Commissioner was unprepared appears to have stung. [3]

We call on our police to concentrate its efforts on serious problems such as knife crime and gang violence, not on petty face-saving. 

We are also disappointed at the Crown Prosecution Service’s failure to challenge these prosecutions. Where is the public interest? 

The burden this tsunami of cases will place on the courts is unprecedented and will impact the day to day work of the criminal justice system. With most defendants likely to receive a conditional discharge, the waste of court time and resource is unjustifiable. 

The April Rebellion made headlines around the world and propelled the issue of climate breakdown up the political agenda. While the response of our government is still criminally inadequate, there have been some significant first steps. Parliament has now declared a climate emergency, Labour has a shadow climate justice minister and six select committees are holding a citizens’ assembly on the climate crisis. The public demand for urgent political action escalates. The 1,000 plus people who helped make this happen should be applauded not criminalised. 

We call on the CPS to stand up to the Metropolitan Police and halt this new wave of prosecutions.

Retired GP and grandfather, Bob Rivett, one of those recently summoned, said.

“I certainly have no regrets about joining XR, occupying Waterloo Bridge, defying police orders, being arrested or being charged. 

“Thousands of my, normally law-abiding, fellow citizens, pillars of their communities, of all ages, from all walks of life and from all parts of the country, came together to point out that our government is letting us down so badly that they endanger our very survival. Should the government not ask themselves just who is in the wrong?”

Former civil servant Jon Fuller, also recently charged, said: 

“I did what I did in the knowledge it may lead to a prosecution and I am prepared for the consequences. However I acted to prevent mass loss of life and will appear in court to prove my actions were reasonable, proportionate and responsible. If the courts cannot show my thinking is wrong then I will continue to take non-violent direct action to save lives.”

Extinction Rebellion is a broad movement of tens of thousands of people of all ages and from all walks of life. There are countless opportunities to join the movement that don’t involve arrest, not least by joining our court support team. For our major actions to succeed, however, we need a core of rebels willing to put their bodies on the line. For the hundreds now tied up in legal proceedings, future arrest brings greater risk and could exclude them from further action. With major uprisings taking place next week and an even bigger rebellion planned for the autumn, Extinction Rebellion needs you. 

We appeal to all worried, law-abiding citizens everywhere to follow these rebels’ example and exercise your moral right to act. 

To find out where to find a non-violent direct action training contact your local group or visit our events page: 

To donate money towards defendants’ legal costs visit

Charged defendants are available for interview. 


Notes to Editors:

  1. Arrest figures
    1. Between the Declaration of Rebellion on October 31 2018 and the start of the April Rebellion on April 14 2019, over 220 people were arrested in actions around the UK (our best estimates).
    2. During the April Rebellion, in London there were 1130 arrests by the Metropolitan Police (89 people were arrested more than once), and 9 by the British Transport Police made 9 arrests (for actions on the Docklands Light Railway). In Scotland there were 29. 
    3. Since April there have been a further 13 arrests in Scotland.
      Internationally, there have been more than 400 arrests since 31 October 2018 including 70 in New York City,   (our best estimate)
  2. To donate money towards defendants legal costs visit
  4. “Summer Uprising: ACT NOW” begins Monday 15 July in 5 cities around the country – Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds and London.  In London (XR South-East England and National) the theme will be We Are Nature Defending Itself and people are invited to gather outside the Royal Courts of Justice (time TBC) in solidarity with all climate activists defending our planet around the globe. We demand climate justice for all and call on Government to make ecocide law. We stand with those laying their bodies on the line to defend the natural world and commend their courage. We are nature defending itself!

More about Extinction Rebellion:

Extinction Rebellion’s top-line demands:

  • Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
  • The government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
  • The government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.

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About Rising Up!

Extinction Rebellion is an initiative of the Rising Up! network, which promotes a fundamental change of our political and economic system to one which maximises well-being and minimises harm. Change needs to be nurtured in a culture of reverence, gratitude and inclusion while the tools of civil disobedience and direct action are used to express our collective power.

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