London Rebellion: Day 3
October 10, 2019 by Extinction Rebellion
In a grim metaphor for the ongoing extermination and extinction of so much of our planet’s natural life, the police are picking rebels off the street with steady assurance – 92 year-olds and Pink Octopi alike have been removed. And they do it with the authority of laws not designed to protect the wellbeing of citizens, but to protect an insatiable growth-based status quo.
Arrests (600 and counting) were very much expected. More of a surprise is the new tactic of forcefully confiscating shelter, food and water, and anything that might allow disabled people to conveniently participate. In its eagerness to drown out our message of bad news, the government seems happy to give up its duty of care, and in doing so threaten the British people’s right to protest.
Despite this treatment, rebels have risen magnificently to the occasion and continue to show profound resilience and courage.
Today saw a litany of creative, democratic, informed, inclusive and visionary outpourings of the rebellious spirit: mothers nursed their infants, Youth and Elders came together for a theatrical ‘die in’, Gail Bradbrook and Geroge Monbiot spoke and we have big plans for City Airport tomorrow.
The PM’s dad is certainly impressed, and Benedict Cumberbatch joined us for the night. But most significantly, over 400 MPs came to collect a tree from Parliament Square. ‘[Extinction Rebellion] has changed the conversation’ claims Ed Miliband. And we’re going to keep changing it.
It’s in this knowledge that we will take to the streets day after day, giving whatever it takes.
MP Kate Green about to plant a tree
2 days ago, Extinction Rebellion also created a fledgling forest with 1,000 potted native trees outside Parliament in the shape of the British Isles. MPs have been invited to ‘adopt’ a tree and take it back to their constituency, and hopefully use it as a starting point for greater re-wilding and re-foresting efforts.
Over 400 MPs ended up collecting their trees, ranging from Zach Goldsmith, Geoffrey Cox and Liam Fox, through to Vince Cable, Ed Miliband & Hilary Benn! Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn also have their trees. This was a great success in also allowing rebels to bond with the public and shift conversations to the importance of preserving whatever natural spaces we have. Watch the livestream!
Nurse-in at Whitehall
At 10:30AM this morning, around 200 mothers marched with their babies from Parliament Square to Downing Street to stage a mass nurse-in. Though the babies could not walk, they were part of a bigger movement of love and rage – parents held the nurse-in to demand the government to protect their children and future generations in the face of the ongoing climate and ecological crisis.
In an interview with ITV news, an XR rebel (and father) commented on their reasons for participating in the march: “They need a future they can look forward to, and the politicians are doing absolutely nothing about it.” Watch the full interview here, and take a look at ‘XRTV’ interviewing more mothers at the scene.
92-year-old John is arrested at Downing St.
A selection of sites
Site: We Are All Crew
XR Bristol, Wales, Rainbow, & Farmers | Marsham St. & Horseferry St., London
The third day of action and rebellion kicked off with some regenerative culture with yoga outside the Home Office. A programme of activities followed centred on speeches from scientists discussing the climate emergency as well as rebels sharing their own stories and poetry.
Police presence has been strong throughout the day, following the arrest of rebels locked on the South side of the site in the early morning. As this took place a people’s assembly was held to discuss whether to hold the site or regroup at a different location with a consensus being reached to head to Power In Truth and leaving the site in dignity. Despite leaving the site, spirits remain high and numbers are still strong. Rebels are now bedding down for the night at Trafalgar Square.
A group of XR activists from Herefordshire and the Welsh Borders staged an action today at The National Portrait Gallery demanding the institution follow the lead of The Royal Shakespeare COmpany and drop BP as a sponsor. Artist Marianne Ryan, who was taking part in the action said:
‘I cancelled my Gallery membership because of BP’s sponsorship. It is blood money from a corporation that continues to make the climate crisis worse.’
Site: Power in Truth
XR Scotland & XR Cumbria | Victoria Street, London
The day began peacefully with some rebels heading to the Oil & Money conference, holding a banner reading ‘Tell the Truth’. Reports focusing on the fossil fuel industry’s greenwashing activities and extensive lobbying to block meaningful climate change policy were read. HIghlights from the first 3 chapters of the IPCC report were read by George Monbiot and representatives from Stop Ecocide before being interrupted by the police.
Later on Gail Bradbrook came to speak and the site remained positive and upbeat with bagpipes and highland dancing taking place.
Most of the site’s infrastructure has been taken and two rebels are camping on top of a food truck, however they are being denied food and blankets by the police.
Site: XR Youth and XR Elders.
Today XR Youth and XR elders collaborated on an action at the National Gallery. The initial plan was for the elders to pour fake blood down the steps and for XR youth to stage a die in. Unfortunately the police confiscated the blood before it reached the site so an alternative action was coordinated at the last minute. The Red Brigade were called in and a symbolic die in was held which remained hugely powerful and affecting despite the last minute change of plans.
The police moved in on the campsite to remove tents erected on the road, however they were considerate enough to separate personal belongings and hand them back to rebels. A new lock on was attempted by two rebels aiming to stop police moving in from Whitehall, they found themselves cheered on by the arrival of ‘Extinction Roobellion’, four rebels dressed as kangaroos wearing bouncing blades (video here).
Site: XR Peace
XR peace conducted a die in today on the steps of the Ministry of Justice. About 15 rebels were blockading with banners to highlight the links between militarism and the climate emergency. Four rebels from Trident Ploughshare were arrested but have since been released. Some rebels are now heading to support XR Scotland.
There was great support and solidarity offered from the CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament).
Site: Future Is Here.
The atmosphere at the Trafalgar Square site has been joyous with rebels resolving to be ‘like water’ in their support for other sites including merging with them if necessary. At the time of writing the streets were held, in spite of waves of police action and confiscation.
The priorities of the day have been pushing the three demands for climate justice and sharing people’s stories.Rebels were treated to some inspiring speeches outside the Royal Courts of Justice today as part of the Lawyers Declaration of Climate Emergency. Speakers included Farhana Yasmin and Richard Lord QC who warned that:
‘..the law looks to the past and not the future.’
On the Future is Here stage, Guardian journalist George Monbiot spoke and introduced a people’s assembly on water management and flood risk which was well received by both rebels and press alike. Helena Farstead of Holloway said:
‘I realized the empowerment of a people’s assembly. Nervousness became confidence really quickly. I realized this was the way forward.’
Site: Love Rebellion
Site: Global Justice
Discussions were had at the Global Justice site today, resolving into this message:
Disruption takes many forms. You can blockade streets and highways, hack the central banks, or even take over the systems of government. However sometimes disruption needs to happen internally, particularly to the ways we have been ingrained into thinking. There has been much love shown to what XR have been doing for the past 3 days from participants and speakers at the Global Justice Rebellion as well as the wider public; it is clear that the issue of climate change is very present in the public consciousness thanks to XR’s actions.
What has perhaps been missing from the main conversation is the critiques of XR’s framing of the climate crisis, too often presented as a crisis for white westerners and their grandchildren, platforming demands with too narrow a focus on carbon emissions, ignoring the uncomfortable political and historical ‘truths’ we need to tell to bring about systemic change. We hope to highlight the wider social and global implications of this crisis. These conversations are simply not addressed enough by the prevalent narrative pushed by XR. Paying lip service is not enough, but rather what is needed is a genuine listening to the voices of people fighting on the frontlines of climate change in the global south, where the climate has been an emergency for many decades or even centuries.
We are trying to demonstrate that XR, while doing amazing work, have only just joined a struggle which has been and continues to be fought by people whose perspectives are not shared enough. Sometimes the hardest form of disruption, the hardest form of ‘empathy’ is to engage critically with ourselves and the principles we take for granted. This is something that we believe that XR must do, as an organisation, if it wants to truly make the systemic impact that it hopes to.
The Global Justice Rebellion is not blockading a road, and so naturally our space won’t draw the same kind of energy as other sites. However this different approach offers opportunities for deeper reflection and discussion; a welcoming and inclusive space for all communities – a much needed breathing space for us all. If this ‘Movement of Movements’ is to live up to its name, we need both kinds of intentions to succeed.
Media Briefing: The Guardian go after Big Oil companies and the Johnson family declare their love for XR
The protests continued on the 9th after an evening of raving thanks to Trafalgar Square DJ sets from Orbital and Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja.
Today the Guardian published a series of articles called ‘the polluters’ which reveals the 20 firms behind a third of ALL carbon emissions, offers a climate crisis timeline, and shares a video on the need to politically challenge big polluters.
In the Times, a 66-year-old XR supporter reminded readers that current efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions were ‘meaningless’ because ‘we are still doing too little, too late’. The Telegraph and Independent speculated in excited anxiety as XR asserted their desire to fill all 1000 jail cells in London and to shut down the capital’s City airport for three days starting tomorrow.
The New Statesman questioned whether France’s XR movement, allied with gilet jaunes, could ‘reshape French politics?’. In Ireland the finance minister paid tribute to XR efforts describing climate change as the ‘defining challenge of our generation’, whilst announcing the implementation of a Carbon tax.
In London, a day after XR held their first peoples’ assembly in Parliament with MPs, Caroline Lucas wrote that a second referendum and XR were the main factors behind changing our climate fortunes. Labour heavyweights Benn and Starmer were seen chin-wagging with XR protestors and dozens of politicians collected trees to plant from outside Parliament.
This indicates that disruption is leading to political consideration of our cause. Even the Prime Minister changed his tune, describing XR as ‘wonderful’ but admitting he had been ‘haunted’ by the late-night saxophone being played in XR campsites.
City Airport – THURSDAY 10
This morning begins the much anticipated City Airport Action. Over 400 rebels have signed up to stage a three-day sit-in, highlighting the criminal contribution air travel makes to humanity’s carbon footprint.
You may have missed the briefing, but there is still time to join them at any point over the next three days. They will need all manner of morale boosters, arrestable reinforcement and vegan nourishment!
We will keep you posted on their progress. Watch this space.
Rebel Writers: Tell the Story! – FRIDAY 11
Forty top writers will be in Trafalgar Square from 5- 9pm today Friday 11th October for the first Rebel Writers event.
Writers include Ali Smith , Robert Macfarlane, Chloe Adrijis, Simon Schama and Romesh Gunesekera.
Here’s a literary themed podcast featuring Jonathan Franzen and Susie Orbach to whet your appetite.
Funeral in St James’ – SATURDAY 12
Beginning in St. James Park at 1.30pm, there will be a ceremony of grief, followed by a funeral procession through the streets of London. Come and join a jazz-funeral band, black horses, XR Skeletons and Art Blocker’s flags!
Gather your puppets, banners and 3D art objects and don black, white, and pink, or the colours of mourning in your culture. Let’s unite in grief, rage and love for life on earth!
UK Rebellion Needs
This Rebellion needs all hands on deck.
Check out our live page to see the latest ways you can help – from helping remotely to offering food to knowing your rights!
Your planet needs you!
Tune in to Rebel Radio to hear daring and curious voices, expanding the conversation around the climate and ecological crisis, and bringing you the inside story of XR.
Listen to the live broadcast on rebellion.earth; Soho Radio’s Culture channel, sohoradiolondon.com; or the Soho Radio app. Find out more at rebelradio.earth. Broadcast for the duration of the Rebellion.
And we want to broadcast your stories! Send us voice messages describing what you can see from the ground on our Public WhatsApp – 07367 900 650
We are keeping a record of abusive police behaviour. If you see any, or hear of any, always write things down as quickly as possible after the event, so you don’t forget it. And get witnesses to send their account to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pictures and footage are also welcome.
Mysterious Overflow in Trafalgar…
Since 11pm last night, the fountain on the west side of Trafalgar Square has been overflowing. Attempts have been made to redirect the water with sandbags from affiliated groups, but this can only have a limited effect. The police will bring further sandbags and engineers this morning. Meanwhile, rebel campers have had an anxious night.
- Rebels explain why they are prepared to be arrested for the cause in a striking photo essay.
- Jack Harries and Farhana Yamin tell CNN’s Christiane Amanpour about taking to the streets to demand climate action.
- XR’s rebel nursing mothers on the BBC.
- Enjoy Jonathan Pie’s hilarious take on the debate around Extinction Rebellion.
- In light of today’s report that just 20 fossil fuel companies have produced 35% of the carbon dioxide and methane since 1965, George Monbiot encourages everyone to change the system and join Extinction Rebellion.
Humans of XR
To read more human stories – or to write your own – join our Facebook group.
Alanna, 72, Preparing for rebellion
I’ve thought that I was fairly low carbon-footprint but I’ve realised I’m always recharging my phone and iPad and things so perhaps a little bit selfish in certain areas. I’ve found it virtually impossible not to buy clothes which I signed up to do, just couldn’t manage it. And a feeling, a wish, that I was up there and doing a lot more. Just haven’t got a huge amount of energy but perhaps I should push myself a bit more to do things. Slightly nervous of throwing myself in. I did in the last big thing and I suppose I’m a little anxious, but part of me feels that at my age it doesn’t matter if anything happens to me.
I’m terrified of being arrested actually, and I’m terrified that my son will allow himself to be because I feel it would be devastating for his wife and children, and for him as a person.
I kind of feel we’ve passed the tipping point. I feel we’re doing all these things, and part of me wants to believe we can stop it but actually I don’t know that we can, which just makes me enormously sad because it’s such a beautiful, wonderful place. I think of my grandchildren, of course, and my children, and everyone else, and what people are going through, it’s just terrible. I just feel we have to act, immediately, and even so it’s probably too late.