Rebel Daily 6: Police Board our Bus with Batons
September 01, 2021 by Extinction Rebellion
Day 9 saw some disturbing scenes, but a heavy-handed police response won’t dampen our resolve! Read on for details of the latest inspiring actions.
We’re in the thick of it. After a brilliant first week, the last two days have seen a slew of actions about as varied and impactful as it gets. From massive disruptions of London Bridge and Tower Bridge to spectral prams and defiant feed-ins, to a blockade of the UK’s largest milk factory – and so much more.
Most of these actions have now been happening in the City of London. This isn’t accidental: the capital’s hallowed financial hub is probably about as critical as any other place on the planet to the ongoing ecocide.
Major banks have funelled $3.8 trillion(!!) into fossil fuels since 2015’s Paris deal – and the rate at which they fund these projects is still increasing. UK banks and investors are culpable for nearly double the emissions of the UK itself! These institutions and the people in them are making a killing out of genocide, just like they did from slavery. And just as before, they’re using piles of this profit to lobby their way out of accountability. They will not fool history, and they’re not fooling us.
Another common theme this week has been a rise in police aggression. We’ve seen casual rough treatment, another clampdown on subversive artwork, and whatever the hell you can call London Bridge’s scenes. The Met’s Twitter account has even managed to brag about a disproportionate and blatantly unsafe response to one of our actions. Beneath this is a more insidious assumption that our protests, if disruptive, are unwarranted and should be cleared as hastily as possible. The Supreme Court happens to disagree.
But we don’t need permission to be doing what we’re doing. We all know why we’re here. The future of this planet hinges on decisions made today, and we will not watch silently as blood money and vested interests attempt to hijack those decisions. The police can move us – even hit us – but they’ll never stop us.
Police brutally board Extinction Bus
31 AUG | London Bridge Station
Tuesday, like so many other interesting days, began quietly outside City Hall. People began to gather on the riverbank from 12pm. After some opening speeches, and with a crowd now numbered in the hundreds, the trusty samba band led a procession through the south bank’s gleaming office territory. An unexpected and acoustically rewarding turn led marchers through London Bridge station and out to the foot of the Shard, in all its dystopian magnificence. It was a good spot for some drumming.
Before long, though, the signal came to move. As marchers marched then started running down the street, it became clear that we had once again provided cover for a roadblock we could now support. And what a roadblock.
We are non-violent
Police attempts to keep arriving rebels off the junction were flummoxed by the tide of positivity pouring from London Bridge station. However – merely minutes into this bright-eyed new occupation, police around the bus appeared to act on frankly crazy orders to scale it and enter it with batons swinging. It’s not often that we see such a heavy handed reaction from the police, with some officers holding peaceful protestors in a headlock.
It was a chilling and provocative sight – but true to form, the rebels all around maintained complete nonviolent discipline. What could have been only a brutal, saddening (and likely illegal) crackdown on a peaceful protest turned into something more powerful. Rebels in the junction sat down and some of the Rebellion’s most poignant speeches were given.
Gail Bradbrook opened by addressing the police directly (whose numbers ran into their now-customarily disproportionate hundreds), reminding them of the fundamental importance of the right to protest – and of the fundamental importance of viable ecosystems. ‘We are here for your children, whether you can see that or not.’
As the situation stabilised and calmed, this new site turned out to possess a special kind of magic. Whether it was the open space, the presence of the bus (now crowded with both police and rebel passengers), the words of those speaking or the force with which the sitting rebels sang songs, this seasoned rebel writer spent a lot of time with goosebumps, and learned a lot.
After hours of disruptive, prefigurative togetherness, a collective decision was taken to move on before the ever-massing police columns moved in. The warmest of farewells was given to all those on and under the bus. The samba band led rebels once again – continuing to cause dual-lane disruption all the way to the south junction of Southwark bridge. After almost an hour of disruption here, rebels parted ways – a little saddened, and greatly emboldened.
3 bikes, a pink caravan and a big blue van
30 AUG | Tower Bridge
In yet another well-coordinated manoeuvre, hundreds of rebels set off from London Bridge in a joyful march, trusting that fellow rebels elsewhere were carefully lining up something big. When the march arrived at its destination, Tower Bridge and the large junction on the north side were blocked by several vehicles. The delicate, painstaking logistical efforts of a few determined planners had paid off in a big way.
A caravan set at a diagonal in the middle of Tower Bridge blocked all traffic from crossing the river, in a major, unignorable disruption to the very centre of London. Five rebels climbed on top of the white caravan and set about painting it pink with long rollers. Police raced to prevent more rebels from joining in. On the north-side junction, three more glued and locked on their bicycles and used their bodies to secure the space for everyone. This was where the party was chiefly at, and hundreds of rebels sat down in the street to hear speeches and music and soak in the cheerful vibes of the occupation.
Finally, a big blue van blocked a road coming into the junction and created a third site. Two rebels locked on atop the van, with three more in the cab and two more locked inside. In their panic to get into the van, the police decided to smash a window without warning, endangering those in the cab (video here). Over at the junction, police were seen being less than friendly to some young women, as officers floundered to try and clear the space.
Here’s some aerial footage of the scenes, especially of the caravan (which wasn’t visible from the main protest site).
Emotions and disruption
The by-now standard kerfuffle and light police violence followed as they cleared the site, leaving only those who were locked on or refused to stand up. Most of the crowd headed off on an impromptu march that ended up at the JP Morgan offices, near Blackfriars Bridge. Rebels held solemn silences. The police held protective cordons over the bridges, causing some considerable disruption themselves.
Indeed, after the march left, there were only a handful of rebels on the road guarded by at least 300 police officers. The ratios looked disproportionate to say the least. The unnecessary aggression of the officers towards peaceful protestors was noted by many passersby who bore witness to the disturbing scenes.
Animal Rebellion blockade UK’s largest dairy factory
Arla have one new pus-ridden blockage in their udders to worry about. Animal Rebellion blockaded their dairy factory for nearly 24 hours, preventing them from getting out their daily 2.7 million litres of milk. The BBC reports there were 60-70 activists on the scene, 50 locked on, along with two tall bamboo Beacons and many other lock-ons.
Police have been acting out again, this time denying basic food and shelter to peaceful protestors. One locked-on rebel had their sandwich confiscated by the police. This is absurd.
Arla’s is the largest dairy factory in the UK, supplying 10% of milk to British supermarkets. Animal Rebellion are calling on Arla to transition to plant-based production by 2025 to address the catastrophic impacts dairy production has on the climate and animals. More info about the action on the AR site here.
While Arla claims to be a leader in sustainability (heard that one before), AR is not convinced. Check out Greenpeace’s handy page for understanding greenwashing and bogus net-zero claims and targets like Arla’s.
Pram vs Sham
Around 150 rebels gathered on Parliament Square for a solemn, sombre, slightly spooky action on Tuesday afternoon. Processing silently down Whitehall, and flanked by large numbers of police, those assembled stopped and sat outside the gates of Downing Street. The symbolism was as clear as it was powerful.
To help those in power get the point, rebels then locked themselves to their prams. The procession then carried on to Trafalgar Square, where it ended.
For the children
Youth activists are demanding better from the World Wildlife Foundation and peacefully occupying their headquarters in Woking. XR Youth Solidarity joined up with WTFWWF to take this action in solidarity with Indigenous communities in Tanzania, Cameroon and Kenya, who have been violently evicted from their ancestral homeland by conservation projects.
An independent report into WWF discovered that many human rights abuses had been committed by WWF-funded hands. It also partners with polluting, ecocidal corporations, counting Shell, Cargill, Monsanto, Coca-Cola, and HSBC among its friends and donors. Million-dollar donations for a greener image? Someone call the Greenwash Busters again…
Earth Fast – Day 4
The International Earth Fast started on the 28th of August. The UK participants will be fasting from a hunger camp within view of the Houses of Parliament in a bid to keep the pressure on the government.
This week, our Digital Rebels are turning their keypads and voices on the Bank of England.
This year, the Bank of England will give out loans to the tune of £850 billion to the likes of BP, EasyJet and Rolls Royce. Loans which have absolutely no carbon emission or climate conditions attached to them.
The Bank of England has the power to regulate all banks in England, including how and where those banks invest their money.
Our demand is that they use this power to end all UK bank’s investment in fossil fuels.
We must disrupt their business as usual.
We hope the Bank is ready for a higher rate of interest………..
Our aim this week is to get them to close their phone lines by flooding the bank with calls to remind them of their vital responsibility to people and planet. If you have access to a phone to make calls, join our Digital Rebels in making calls from home. All Rebels will be given a script, and you can join the Digital Rebel’s Telegram and Zoom calls for training, more information, and to find community with your fellow Rebels!
The more Rebels we have, the louder our voices will be, and the stronger our chances of being heard.
Let’s get those phone lines closed, and pressure the Bank of England to use its power to end investment in fossil fuels in England. Join the campaign here!
In Scotland, rebels projected the word ‘Fake’ onto the Newsprinters in Glasgow in a statement about the corrupted media that keeps us ‘informed’.
Come camp with me
Looking for a base to stay while in London taking part in this second week of Rebellion? You have one! Join your fellow Rebels at the campsite at Blackheath.
- Join your community of Rebels pitching tents together, telling stories of the day’s actions and planning for the actions in the days ahead!
- Volunteers are cooking freshly prepared, hot vegetarian meals, using nearly expired food from local donations. (And yes, it’s free!)
- The site is being managed by our wonderful volunteers, and there’s access to washing and cleaning facilities.
- Regenerate and refuel (sustainably) at camp with old and new friends, in preparation for your next frontline activities.
Humans of XR
Scarlett, 18, locked-on at Tower Bridge
“XR’s greatest success has been a massive increase in public awareness. So many people know so much more than they used to just a couple of years ago. And as horrible as it is, I think people are frightened because they can’t ignore the crisis that we’re accelerating towards.
I’ve been protesting for the climate movement since I was 15 and I feel that what we have to do is immediate and direct actions. It’s clear that the marches have not been enough. We need to be more impactful to ensure people realise how extreme it is.
We have to persevere and we can’t let burnout stop us. I have a lot more perseverance and determination than I expected. Even carrying on through burnout, when you feel like what you’re doing has no impact? You just have to carry on and that’s something I didn’t expect I’d be able to do.”
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Thank you for reading. There’s so much exciting stuff going on we barely have time to write this sign-off. Keep up the good work! If you have any questions or queries, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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