Socialist Worker

Extinction Rebellion shuts down five London bridges

by Sarah Bates
Issue No. 2631

Protesters block Lambeth Bridge

Protesters block Westminster Bridge (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Thousands of climate change activists blocked five central London bridges for hours on Saturday, causing chaos for the cops.

There were at least 50 arrests as activists staged sit-ins at Lambeth, Westminster, Blackfriars, Waterloo and Southwark bridges.

It was part of a “Rebellion Day” called by new climate change group Extinction Rebellion, which is demanding drastic and rapid action on climate change.

Dozens of police surrounded activists on bridges and threatened to arrest them for obstructing a highway.

Green Party member Mary argued climate change poses a greater threat than any other political problem. She said the joined the Greens five years ago as she thought “the two big parties are irrelevant, the real issue is climate change.”

A full coach of protesters came from the Preston New Road fracking site near Preston.

James Hayhurst had travelled from Clitheroe in Lancashire to be on Lambeth bridge. He said the Tories are overriding local decisions over fracking companies being granted licences. “Our democracy is being eroded,” he said.

Paying

And he said, “Oil and gas companies are paying governments, and the police are just a pawn in the game.

“The oil and gas companies are blinded by their greed, and the rich will destroy our species”.

Many banners and protesters linked climate change to energy firms. Others urged swift action on climate change. “There’s no planet B,” read one.

There was a broad range of ideas about the most effective way to tackle climate change.

Geoff had travelled from Brighton to take part in the Rebellion. He said the Tory government needed to take “drastic action, not the small steps they have taken.”

And he saw the fight against climate chaos as a global one. “In England, we’ll be slow to be affected, but some countries will be much quicker. Like Bangladesh and Pacific islands. This will create millions of refugees and displaced people,” he said. “It can still be avoided to some degree."

Extinction Rebellion taps into a deep anger at climate chaos. It’s a welcome step that ordinary people are responding to alarming warnings from climate scientists with collective action. 

Direct action raises the profile of the fight against climate change, but it can’t stop there. There needs to be hundreds of thousands on the streets, including at the upcoming demonstration on climate change. 

Join the Campaign Against Climate Change's protest Together for Climate Justice on 1 December. Go to bit.ly/2DpG5pM

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