UPDATE 5.45pm: 11 sites, a wedding and a hearse - Extinction Rebellion UK

UPDATE 5.45pm: 11 sites, a wedding and a hearse

Email: press@risingup.org.uk

National Office Phone: +44(0)7986671716 / +44(0)7561098449 / +44(0)7804743058 / +44(0)77391 86640 / +44(0)7479234522

Bristol/Wales (We Are All Crew): +44(0)07722062502 / +44(0)7495297625

North England (Rewilding North): +44(0)7794718962 

South West England (Global Food Justice): +44(0)7711898499 / +44(0)7778267833

East of England and Midlands (Love Rebellion): +44(0)7548691855 / +44(0)7877769492

South East (Beyond Politics): +44(0)7857445653

Scotland/North East/Cumbria (Power in Truth): +44(0)7904591052 / +44(0)7507888837

London A (Burning Earth): +44(0)7459518464 / +44

London B (The Beacon): +44(0)7760 889153

London C (The Future is Here):

Animal Rebellion (The Garden City): +44(0)7464739319

Global Justice Site: +44(0)7983236252 / +44(0)7795360527

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London. We Owe You an Apology (Video)

UPDATE 5pm: 11 sites, a wedding and a hearse. Callout for overnight provisions

We are office workers, doctors, teachers, builders and even former police officers. We are youth, parents and grandparents. And we are all afraid of what the Climate and Ecological Emergency will bring to you and your loved ones if the Government doesn’t tell us the truth about their plans and act now.

John Curran, former Met Police Detective Sergeant who is out on the streets today supporting Extinction Rebellion, said: “We’ve just had the hottest month in history. I have a 3-year old called Natasha. I look at her and I can’t help but wonder what the world will be like in 20 years time. Everybody says there’s nothing they wouldn’t do for their children. Well, now is your opportunity. What side of history are YOU going to be on?”  

Eleven sites remain held across Westminster, with people returning tomorrow to continue the rebellion. After decades of petitions and inaction, this is the only way we can get the government to take notice and act. 

Callout for provisions for overnight rebels
With police confiscating hoards of donated kitchen equipment and food, Extinction Rebellion is asking more Londoners to join us as we head towards a chilly evening.

Come with provisions – flasks with hot water and ready-to-eat vegan food – to sustain rebels as they hold sites overnight. Tents, sleeping gear and warm clothes. It is going to be a challenging first night for all of us, the next 24 hours are critical and we need your help.

Scientists’ warnings about disappearing glaciers and sea-level rise can feel too distant and remote when envisaged for the years 2050 or 2100. 

We are drawing attention to nearer-term threats that are even more terrifying and far sooner than we think.

Many are preparing to go on hunger strike to illustrate that our just-in-time food system is too fragile to repeatedly withstand the shocks of extreme weather happening in other parts of the world. Those in developed economies like the UK will not be spared the impacts of climate change that are already devastating lives elsewhere. 

We have returned to London because we are vulnerable. But in the midst of an emergency situation something wonderful can happen when we come together. 

So please, grab an umbrella and join us. Bring your family to the XR Families site next to Admiralty Arch or join us in contemplation and prayer at the newly unveiled Faith Bridge (formerly Lambeth Bridge).

Emergency services

In advance of this Rebellion, we have been in regular contact with the Metropolitan Police Service, London Fire Brigade, Transport for London and London Ambulance to ensure minimum disruption to Londoners. It is worth nothing that TFL declined to cooperate – which inspired Extinction Rebellion to put up our own warning signs across the transport network.

The police advised us to open up Lambeth Bridge for access through Westminster. Instead, we’ve found an easier route along Embankment, so should any MPs needing to access the roads for personal reasons, or emergency vehicles need to get through, they can. 

In the case of emergencies, there is a clear protocol in place so that emergency blue lighted vehicles will immediately be given access.  

A brief update from the sites! 

This afternoon we saw the first wedding ever on Westminster Bridge, where people gathered, sung songs of love, scattered flower petals and celebrated the couple’s vows, against the backdrop of Big Ben. Ruby Wax and Juliet Stevenson were amongst those gathered.

Police have removed infrastructure from rebels, but people are continuing to join on the bridge amongst people’s assemblies, choirs and a brass band. The atmosphere now is calm, with blockades on the north and south ends of the bridge, with 2 on the top of a van holding it in place. 

500 Animal Rebellion activists staged a sit-in at Southampton Row and High Holborn, singing anthems of compassion and calling for food system change, with many passers-by voicing their approval of the protest. The group then marched to Smithfield Meat Market, one of Europe’s largest meat markets, where they have taken over the market’s iconic archway and are now transforming it into a symbolic, artistic plant-based market. Intended to be an overnight occupation, the demonstration seeks to portray what Smithfield needs to become in a future sustainable food system. 

Chris, a rebel who has travelled down from Hull, says: “I’m here because I want to see the government tackle climate change and end animal exploitation. I’m hopeful for a better future because of all the amazing people that are standing up to this injustice”.

“We’re at Smithfield today to call for food system change. Animal farming is a leading cause of environmental destruction, and we need to move to a plant-based food system if we want to save our planet and help the billions of animals exploited yearly. We want the government to help Smithfield pioneer the transition to a plant-based food system by transitioning it into a plant-based market. I’m not working for 2 weeks because making this happen is crucial to our future, and the time to act is now.” – Stephanie Zupan, 27, from Toronto

“I was born on a dairy farm, I’ve been vegan five years and vegetarian for 40. A plant-based food system is the way of the future – you can see that from the sheer amount of support we’ve got here today!” – Malcolm Lewis, 74, from Warwickshire

Hundreds more have gathered at Trafalgar Square since this morning, undeterred by the rain, sweeping ranks to well over a thousand people. Roads remain blocked and police have unglued the still-singing folks who attached themselves to the top of the scaffolding. A community atmosphere prevails with talks, chanting, people gathering in groups, painting signs, chalking artwork on the pavement, waving huge flags and families sitting on picnic blankets. 

Two people remain locked on inside, and three underneath, a hearse holding a coffin reading ‘Our Future’. 

This afternoon, 17 year old A Level Student was removed from scaffolding via a body bag chanting “this is what democracy looks like”.

Otavio Avancini, 51, political artist who designed the 5.5 msq Burning Earth flags: “I’m from Brazil. It’s terrible what’s happening to the Amazon. I am here today because I think it is important to make art in the street and make a contribution to the protest. I am here because it is the right time to be here.”

  • XR Families & London – The Future is Here – The Mall –

At the Future is Here, over 300 rebels spanning three generations gathered to create the future we know is possible.

Children of all ages have been writing their wishes for the future on pieces of fabric and hanging them from the railings in the Mall. Meanwhile on the main stage over 200 rebels gathered to hear Sir Mark Rylance speak. The actor highlighted our society’s vulnerability to the effects of climate change and also our ability to turn things around rapidly, saying: ‘Change can happen very suddenly as if termites had been chipping away at the infrastructure’.

The peaceful, calm atmosphere on site created a space where over a hundred families gathered in gazebos decorated with pink paper boats to protest alongside their children. 

Melissa Branzburg from XR Families Lewisham said:

“I am here with my 3 and 5 year olds to make sure they have a say in their future and to empower them to take action. When you are so young climate change is pretty daunting but this gives them a chance to use their voice to make a difference’

Chiara from XR families Lewisham and a member of Mothers Rise Up was at the site with her 10 month old. She said: ‘we are struggling because if we go down this path our babies will not thrive and will have to fight to survive. I am here with my 10 month old daughter to stand up for her future’

At the Palace end of the Mall 50 rebels held the roadblock with a banner and tents. Frances and Richard are from the same XR Lambeth affinity group, and have been on roadblock duty since The Future is Here was first occupied this morning. Frances said: ‘It’s amazing. You can either lie in bed worrying about the climate crisis, or be here sharing with so many people. It makes me much more optimistic.’

Since taking the space this morning, 23 people have been arrested, including those locked onto a car and 3 locked onto a mock trident-missile. All those people are still being held. Speeches, music and poetry were shared in the MoD garden – highlights include Bruce Kent, Secretary General CND, Caroline Lucas Green MP, Lindsey German Chair of Stop the War, Victoria Brittain, who spoke about impact of wars as a result of climate change and Rebecca Johnson, co-chair of Nobel Peace Prize winning International Campaign to Abolish nuclear weapons. The atmosphere has been lovely, relaxed, and people are determined to continue. They will be reconvening tomorrow at 10am to decide whether to continue on their site, or go to support where support is needed. 

Since taking the bridge this morning, approximately 1,000 people have now gathered and around 50 tents have been pitched. Right now, people are negotiating with the police about bringing a giant wooden arc onto the bridge. Regular prayers, singing and speeches have been taking place. 

The afternoon continues with great energy with more than 500 people just by 10 Downing Street. A gazebo went up, and then went down thank to the police. There has been lots of singing and Caroline Lucas MP visited. 

Dennis ‘I’m doing it for young people. I’m a Biologist and all this was predicted. If we had started addressing back then we could have been improving things by now. We can still do it’

Alfie, 11, please do something. Scientists know what happening. Listen to them.

[Both of the above photos taken with the permission of their parents]

Due to Victoria Palace Gardens being locked, the Global Justice Site has been peacefully installed in St James’ Park,  a large marquee with main stage and sound system has been erected. Events began in the marquee with XR Doctors running talks and trainings all day. There has been very little police presence on the site so far.

The Global Justice site will have its Opening Ceremony tonight.

XR Youth have an action planned tomorrow at the Department of Education

Talia Woodin from XR Youth said of the site: “So many people from across XR have pitched in and helped to build the site today from 13 year olds to uni students to adult doctors. This is the one site that really feels different from April and from all the other sites”

  • XR North West England – Rewilding North – Victoria Tower Gardens

Over 200 Northern Rebels are holding Rewilding North at Millbank, although it looks as if the police are becoming more heavy-handed in their attempt to separate the two ends of the site between Dean Stanley Street and Lambeth Bridge. They are singing, the samba band is playing, and everyone is hoping to hold the site before tomorrow’s major reforestation action: planting a fledgling forest of 1,000, 1m-high potted native trees outside the Houses of Parliament. 

Ali (above), a teacher from Devon and a grandmother, says: “I’m here for my grandchildren so when they ask me what did I do to stop this at least I’ve got an answer. I’ve got twin grandchildren being born tomorrow and my husband is with my step daughter”.

Sue, a retired social worker from Devon, says: “The reason I’m here because I’m alarmed about the future for my grandchildren and I can’t understand why everyone isn’t alarmed.”

  • XR Bristol / XR Wales / XR Rainbow Rebellion / XR Farmers – We Are All Crew – Home Office – 

As we write this the ‘We are all crew’ site are beginning to set up their site after a delayed start. Tents are set up on the corner of Marsham Street and Horseferry Road with a lorry blocking part of the road and people locked on beneath it. Police are currently surrounding it. The atmosphere is serene and peaceful with a group of ‘Aged Defenders’ dressed in silver cloaks and XR signs on their heads. 

The Power in Truth site are currently holding strong and demanding their truth be heard. Rebels have successfully blocked the road outside BEIS, with tents and gazebos in place. Several several hundred people are gathered at the crossing where Storey Gate meets Victoria Street and holding banners, singing, chanting and acting peacefully. So far 3 have been arrested, 2 of which were drivers of the food truck arriving to feed peaceful activists. Outside BEIS 4 people are locked on under the van carrying the site’s infrastructure for the weeks ahead and police are currently surrounding it, refusing to let it through. The atmosphere remains positive and calm with people singing. 

James Masson, 21, from Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire said, “It’s inspiring to see so many people from all over the UK out on the streets to protect nature and sticking up for future generations to have a livable planet.”

After multiple attempts to break through the Rose roadblock at Love Rebellion, police vans have been held back by a buoyant crowd with more than 500 people holding their ground at both ends of Horseguards. Backed by reinforcements from Global Justice we are demonstrating our alternative to divisive Westminster politics. No further arrests since the 10 made earlier in the day. 

Among the crowds spirits remain high with folk music and bubble-blowing for kids – and a working kitchen at Poppy roadblock despite police confiscating gazebos and food earlier in the day. Now it’s time to set up tents and get ready to hold the site. 

CAPTION: “Fantastic atmosphere with a lot of entertainment and singing and dancing. I just hope it holds up. My message for rebels is to get up here if you can.” Paul, 69, Southend-on-Sea

“It’s been peaceful and chill on the love rebellion site, it feels like everyone is getting ready. We are the calm in the storm.” Tennessee, 20, and Alice, 22, students. 

“It was hard to start off with and I was a bit nervous to see all the police but then they disappeared. It’s been a beautiful experience.” Virginia, 26, Peterborough/Spain. 


About Extinction Rebellion:

Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction, global pollution, and abrupt, runaway climate change. Societal collapse and mass death are seen as inevitable by scientists and other credible voices, with human extinction also a possibility, if rapid action is not taken.

Extinction Rebellion believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by their Government.

Extinction Rebellion’s key demands are:

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

What emergency? | Extinction Rebellion in Numbers |This Is Not A Drill: An Extinction Rebellion Handbook.

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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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