DAY 3: Westminster under pressure as breastfeeding mums and lawyers join the Rebellion. Enter stage left the Queen.
October 09, 2019 by Extinction Rebellion
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
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
DAY 3: Westminster under pressure as breastfeeding mums and lawyers join the Rebellion. Enter stage left the Queen.
We are well and truly in the Rebellion. We hope that those in Government departments will be able to tell us what plans of action they have to tackle the Climate and Ecological Emergency – their silence is deathly.
As Government fails to respond to the emergency, people from all walks of life – from nursing mothers to lawyers – are coming out in droves to demand the answers and actions we need.
Today, 10 October, as 200 mothers with babes in arms marched to Downing Street to stage a mass nurse-in, the legal profession came out in support of Extinction Rebellion with the launch of Lawyers for Extinction Rebellion, with Richard Lord QC saying “Good intentions are not enough”. Four min video of event here.
It seems that Extinction Rebellion can also count on the support of our elected representatives from across the house with Caroline Lucas, Hillary Benn, Zac Goldsmith, who came to collect their trees, and even our own Prime Minister’s father, Stanley Johnson, showing their support.
The Prime Minister also did an about turn from his “uncooperative hippies” comment saying Extinction Rebellion had a “right to rebel against the extinctions that are taking place”. Prime Minister – these very same extinctions you mention are caused overwhelmingly by human activity. We need your Government to act.
Nonetheless, the screech of denialism continues to ring loud and clear – hello Piers Morgan, we see you clearly. Accepting the truth can be challenging but it is an important step – we are all trapped in the same system.
Westminster feeling the pressure
It is clear that Westminster is beginning to feel some pressure. It’s ironic that the key aim of the Government, in giving its orders to the police to remove and arrest protesters (600 and counting), is to put pressure on those things that many take for granted in life: shelter, food and water.
These are the very same things that the emergency threatens to take from us – in a much deeper and visceral way. The emergency is not in the future, it is here, now. It is killing people, animals, insects, plants: the earth we depend upon.
Police – acting under the direction of the Government – have been escalating tactics including using police vehicles to intimidate peaceful protestors, to excessive use of force when making arrests, to attempting to prevent breastfeeding mothers from walking to 10 Downing St.
They have also threatened to send sniffer dogs around tents where children are present, threatened people serving food with aiding and abetting, and have put pressure on the Royal Parks Half Marathon to cancel – after Extinction Rebellion is collaborating with marathon organisers to facilitate the running of this community event.
State Opening of Parliament
Extinction Rebellion is calling for an upgraded democracy that better represents the interests of the public at a time when our political system has been unable to come together to face the Brexit emergency – nevermind facing the accelerating effects of climate breakdown and ecological destruction being felt across the world.
The intention of our blockade of Westminster is to apply pressure on the UK Government to clearly state their plans of action to tackle the emergency following Parliament’s declaration of a ‘climate and environmental emergency’ in April, which has since remained a piece of empty rhetoric without any effect.
In advance of the Rebellion we have been liaising with the Metropolitan Police’s Gateway Team. We have been absolutely clear that we have no intention whatsoever of disrupting or blocking the functioning of Parliament. This includes the Queen’s Opening of Parliament, whenever that may take place.
We have been very clear that we will work with the Met Police to enable safe access for elected representatives and Lords to Parliament, as well as access to Westminster for the Queen’s Speech. Our position on this has not changed.
The Met Police have informed us that our presence in certain locations around Westminster is creating difficulties for security arrangements ahead of the Queen’s procession from Buckingham Palace to the Houses of Parliament. We have made it clear to the Met that we are very willing to work with them to find a solution to this.
We have met the specific request that MPs have vehicular access to the Houses of Parliament from the north end of Lambeth Bridge. We negotiated with rebels on Lambeth and Westminster Bridges to enable this access to happen.
Royal Parks Half Marathon
This Sunday morning (13 October), thousands of people will participate in the Royal Parks Half Marathon. Over the last week, Extinction Rebellion has been collaborating with the organisers to ensure that this community event which raises thousands of pounds for environmental charities can take place.
Runners on Sunday will find their route lined with thousands of Extinction Rebellion supporters cheering them along.
This morning, around 200 mothers with babes in arms marched from Parliament Square to Downing Street to stage a mass nurse in. They did this to demand the government protect their children in the face of this crisis and because babies all over the world will or already have died.
Laura Downey, Chartered Accountant, mother of Leo (2) and Imogen (6 months) “Disease, famine and war have always been things that happened to “other people”, in far away places or in history books. But now it terrifies me that my children will live to experience them right here due to climate change and I can’t just bury my head in the sand.”
Amina, mother of 6, from the All African Women’s Group “Women are suffering from climate change because as the water and land are polluted and harvests are destroyed then people go hungry. Women are the stronghold and grounding of the family and the country. When the climate changes we work harder fetching water and wood. We are the ones searching for something to eat and if there is nothing then we can’t feed our children including breastfeeding our babies. We create life so if our bodies are polluted then the children we give life to are harmed”.
Upcycle democracy – ‘Government departments – where are your emergency plans?’
Six sites remain held across Westminster, with people returning day by day to continue the rebellion. In keeping with our action plan, sites have merged to support their fellow rebels and to keep all rebels safe.
Today, all sites have held People’s Assemblies to determine the content of an Emergency People’s Speech to be delivered on Friday asking ‘Government Departments – Where are your emergency plans?’ with each site asking the question of a different governmental department.
The people are coming together and we need our elected politicians to respond – otherwise how will we face the planetary emergency?
Also coming Up!
- Don’t forget tomorrow we have the City Airport action
What’s been happening at the sites?
- Animal Rebellion – The Garden City – Home Office and Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
Animal Rebellion have had a brilliant day – they successfully held the intersection of Horseferry and Marsham last night, and spent this morning demonstrating outside the Home Office with other rebels. This afternoon, 7 animal rebels locked themselves on with metal lock-ins and glue to block the entrance of the Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, where they remain with wider crowd support.
The action is to send a message to those inside DEFRA that the UK’s food system is unsustainable. The national food strategy as it currently operates ends on October 25 and they are urging the department to adopt a plant-based food system that supports a living planet. Tonight, Animal Rebellion will join other rebels in London to ensure sites remain held.
“The science shows that animal agriculture is the leading cause of climate change. These are facts. The decision is simple, there needs to be a change and this needs to happen now.” Hawke, 24.
Singer-songwriter Bloom De Wilde, 41, from the Netherlands, and who performed at the site, said, “I told my daughter where I was playing today, as she has been to lots of Extinction Rebellion events. She was so excited!”
The Burning Earth site at Trafalgar Square is stronger than ever – and contains many parts of the Extinction Rebellion movement – many of whom have joined from the Future is Here and the Beacon site on Westminster Bridge. At the site you can find XR Scientists, to learn more about the science behind the emergency, Stop Ecocide, NDVA Training and XR Families where children can paint, draw, and learn about the environment.
The hearse remains blocking the Whitehall entrance to Trafalgar Square, with one passenger inside and ten rebels sitting outside it on the pavement. A tent has been installed on top of the white trailer and two rebels are sitting up there, with two more locked on to each other at the base of it.
Burning Earth remains a traffic-free zone, with campsites holding the Strand, Northumberland Street, Whitehall, Mall and Cockspur Street entrances. A cycle lane has been marked out and bikes are still able to make their way slowly through the site.
There are two stages at the site now with non stop talks, discussion, panel events and entertainment – including a cross-party panel with Stanley Johnson, Siobhan Benita, Rupert Read and Skeena Rathor, followed by a discussion led by climate activist George Monbiot. Yesterday Music Declares curated music throughout the day and headlines Orbital played a stunning 90 min set followed.
The XR Families group braved the pouring rain on Tuesday afternoon to move from The Mall to Trafalgar Square in a procession of drums, tents and buggies – and even a trampoline!
Juliana Muniz Westcott, 31, of XR Families, said:
“We decided to move from The Future is Here on the Mall because we felt the police were putting pressure on vulnerable people, not only children and families but also volunteers with learning difficulties were very distressed. For families, we felt it was safer to be with more people. And in the end, it looks even more beautiful and we’re glad we made the move.”
At 1pm today XR Ground Elders from Totnes, XR Youth and the Aged Agitators supported by the Red Brigade led a moving ceremony on the steps in front of the National Gallery. As they descended the steps, XR Faith read a 45-minute abridged version of The Book of Revelations.
This followed the arrest of eight people who were mixing fake blood which was due to be poured in Trafalgar Square
Emma Dean, 31, Extinction Rebellion Programmer for the Burning Earth site: “It’s a great vibe here, but this is in part due to the fact that police focus is not on Trafalgar square. This is the site causing the most disruption, so we really need to the other sites to hold!”
Bethany Sharp, 31, mother of two: “This is a place for everyone. The families tent is great – its teaching the younger generation about the environment and the world we live in, in an accessible way – as well as all the other discussions and trainings for adults”
- XR SE England – Beyond Politics – Whitehall
Two-and-a-half days after setting up camp 100m from Downing Street, we still hold our Whitehall Site. This achievement is due to the sacrifice of many arrested rebels, and to the large crowds who since the beginning have been here demanding the Government create a Citizens’ Assembly.
We want Boris Johnson to know we’d never throw eggs at him – we’re thoroughly non-violent and besides it’s a waste of food, which may soon be in short supply.
We ask him to listen to his heart where he must know the truth of the collapse of our life-support systems and what has to be done. Party politics is failing to deliver solutions – the Government must allow democracy to be strengthened with a Citizens’ Assembly with legislative power. Randomly chosen citizens, informed by experts and allowed to deliberate, will have the courage to make the necessary decisions.
Rose, 60, a nurse from Fetcham Surrey – locked onto Steve McDonald said
“There was a call for people to lock on. I am a registered nurse and a law abiding person who has never done something like this ever before but I have to act. We will to stay here as long as possible as a message to government that we want a Citizens’ Assembly and political change and for that change to be non-partisan and democratic. So we would like a conversation with government and with Boris Johnson. We are right outside his house and we will stay here as long as we can.”
The Global Justice (St James’ Park) site is attracting an increasing number of speakers and musicians, along with rebels looking for a calm and energising space away from other sites. They can provide hot drinks, toilets and a friendly space, and they’re encouraging those in need of a break to come down to be refreshed, energised and share friendship and learning with them.
Yesterday, the site focused on migrant justice and how it’s key to solving the environmental crisis, with speakers from the Phubari Solidarity Network among others; today, they’ve focused on remembering and learning from the environmental activists killed across the world fighting for justice. This morning, they were joined by speakers from indigenous communities of Resistencia in India and showed a range of films from other indigenous protectors to highlight how their homes and land and lives are being destroyed by the construction industry.
Tonight, the site will be holding a people’s assembly on a fourth demand, with presenters and discussion around whether to adopt the US demand (“We demand a just transition that prioritizes the most vulnerable people and indigenous sovereignty”), construct a UK version, or whether to keep the current demands as they are. The assembly will begin at 8pm, and they are keen for people from other sites to join so that there is a diversity of views in a democratic process – recognising the need to focus on learning from the most vulnerable communities. It’s an important conversation – join if you can. Morning Gloryville will be coming down tomorrow morning at 10am to energise the site for another day of action, discussion and workshops.
Today XR Youth joined XR Elders on the steps of the National Gallery for a collaborative action. The initial plan was to have the Elders pour fake blood down the steps and for XRY to stage a ‘die in’ in the blood. Unfortunately, the ‘blood’ was confiscated by the police before it reached the site, so an alternative action was coordinated last minute. The red brigade were called in and a symbolic die in and was held.
The power and capability of the youth was really brought to the forefront by this incredible performative action, which remained hugely powerful despite the last minute change in plan!
Now we head back to the Global Justice Rebellion Site in St James’ Park for an afternoon packed full of incredible events, workshops and trainings including an appearance from George Monbiot!
Tomorrow some individuals from XRY will be joining other XR groups taking to London City airport as well as continuing our participation in the Global Justice Rebellion Site. We will also be preparing for another collaborative action taking place at Euston station around the HS2 development so watch this space!
- XR Bristol / XR Wales / XR Rainbow Rebellion / XR Farmers – We Are All Crew – Home Office
The positive and peaceful atmosphere continued on Day 3 at the We Are All Crew site. Despite increased pressure from the police, we kept our spirits up with song, dancing and performance poetry. There was also a talk about mass extinction. After holding the biggest people’s assembly in XR history, they decided to leave the site and join forces with XR Scotland. Police made more arrests and seized their lorry, ‘Big Laura’, at about 2pm. However, Animal Rebellion were able to set up a protest outside the DEFRA entrance, calling for an end to unsustainable agriculture. We left in a peaceful procession at about 3.45pm.
Zoë Jones, 23, said: “It’s been an amazing three days at the We Are All Crew site. We’re sorry for the disruption we’ve caused but it’s necessary to make the government listen to us. Thanks to the courage of the rebels who volunteered to be arrested and all those who provided support, we were able to bring our call for climate justice to the heart of the Home Office, DEFRA and Department for Transport. We look forward to joining forces with our fellow rebels and continuing the rebellion.”
- XR Scotland / NE England / Cumbria – Power in Truth, now joined by XR North West England – Rewilding North – Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy
The day began peacefully with some activists heading to the Oil & Money conference, standing outside holding a banner reading “Tell The Truth” and reading from reports focusing on the fossil fuel industry’s greenwashing activities and extensive lobbying to block climate change policy. Some also joined the DRAX protest outside BEIS. The highlights of the first 3 chapters of the IPCC Report were read by people like George Monbiot and representatives from Stop Ecocide before being interrupted by police turning up the heat on the Power In Truth Site. Currently lots of people are locking on in an attempt to protect the site and hold on for much longer, and Rewilding North have joined their neighbours in an attempt to hold the site. Back in Scotland, TechCube, a tower block in Edinburgh is SHINING with the words XR – ACT NOW.
“I am at the protests in London because I believe the government’s lack of policy shift following the publication of the IPCC’s 1.5 degrees report in October of last year shows the extent to which they value staying in office over the safety of the citizens they govern. I think it’s completely unacceptable that oil giants continue to benefit from subsidies from UK taxpayer money to the tune of £10.5bn a year.” Lucy Byford, 26, PhD researcher and teacher in Edinburgh
One of the people locked to the stage to stop it being taken by the police is Max, 21, who commented, “I locked on to slow the police down because I think it’s really important that we hold the Power In Truth site specifically because many of sites have fallen and we need to keep this Rebellion going for as long as it takes.”
Things have been so busy, we are still awaiting updates from:
- XR East England & Midlands – Love Rebellion – Horseguards
- XR Peace – Peace Rebellion
- XR Global Food Justice
Will send when we get them x
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:
- Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
- Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
- Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.
- In the UK, come to one of our events, join the Rebellion Network and let us know how you can help out.
- Start a group where you are: in the UK or around the world.
- Find your local group.
- Check out the International XR website, with links to the French, German, Italian and UK websites.
- And while your time and energy are of most importance, if you are financially able to donate money, see our crowdfunder.
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.