Extinction Rebellion UK update on the Police and work with other movements
March 30, 2021 by Extinction Rebellion
In light of recent unrest around the Police, Crimes, Sentencing and Courts Bill and mounting misinformation, we would like to clarify Extinction Rebellion UK’s position on the Police.
Please start by reading our statement from last year with the input of BIPOC people, disabled rebels and with the support of Netpol, that gives the foundations of our position.
As we said in the statement above, we view the police as professional representatives of an organisation that is institutionally racist – not as allies. We have reviewed and adapted our approach to the police as things have changed over the years, and we would like to be clear that we do not currently communicate with the Met police in advance of our actions. We do continue to use people in Police Liaison roles who work to deescalate tensions between police and protestors on the ground unless they are asked not to by groups we are collaborating with. We are also open about having a small number of ex-police officers in XR and we know they have been invited into spaces where it has triggered emotions and caused harm. We apologise that this happened and we will take care it doesn’t happen again.
For some time we have been working with other groups outside of XR to build trust and act as responsible and respectful allies by listening and learning as we go. The new Extinction Rebellion UK strategy, about to be released, will show the collective intention to improve our commitment to building an inclusive and intersectional movement. It was made via an assembly with a cross section of people across XR.
We are currently working with United for Black Lives and supporting a coalition of anti racist groups to oppose the Policing Bill, you can find a joint statement written and signed by those groups here. Some other collaborative work we have done over the last year includes:
- Reparations Rebellion in Brixton – XR worked together with the Stop the Maangamizi campaign to support this major event. We have also committed to support next year.
- Community Outreach – in response to the murder of George Floyd, people within XR set up Anti-Racist Community Circles in their local areas to connect with and support local Black-led charities.
- Walk of Shame & Ogoni 9 Justice Actions – In September the ‘Walk of Shame’ went around the City of London where corporations that profited and continue to benefit from the slave trade were targeted & shamed. On the 25th anniversary of the murder of the Ogoni 9, an action took place outside Shell headquarters, highlighting Shell’s complicity in the murder of the Ogoni 9.
Extinction Rebellion has courted an enormous amount of controversy over the past two years, some of it justified, some of it due to media spin, rumours and misinformation. This is the price we have been willing to pay by committing to decentralisation and open organising, a strategy we believe wholeheartedly through experience, works to allow for inclusivity and mass participation. Our commitment to open organising, as well as nonviolence, are strategic choices. We do not hold a moral position or condemn other movements who choose to take a different path to change.
As protest is criminalised and our fake democracy is pushed further towards authoritarianism, we seek to find where we can come together with other movements to tackle the common causes that affect us all. We believe strongly that we will only tackle the intersecting crises we face if we find ways to unite against a system that thrives on division, a pervasive sense of powerlessness and that profiteers from people’s suffering. The strongest strategy for those seeking justice is to find unity in our shared humanity and belief that a better social and political reality is possible.
XR has more work to do to build trust and alliances, and we will continue to do so. But we also recognise that the way to build trust is to develop strategic agreements, and begin to work together from there.