Socialist Worker

Roadblocks and arrests on third day of Extinction Rebellion’s Summer Uprising

by Sarah Bates
Issue No. 2664

Activists blocked the road in Waterloo, London

Activists blocked the road in Waterloo, London (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Extinction Rebellion (XR) occupations entered their third day with arrests, accusations of “extremism”, and a pink bathtub.

Activists in London, Leeds, Bristol and Cardiff have blocked roads with colourful boats since Monday morning.

Their actions have focused around XR’s demand to “act now” on the climate and ecological crisis facing the planet.

Around 50 activists in central London, sporadically blocked and unblocked a busy junction in Waterloo—a tactic known as “swarming”.

Protester Rafferty told Socialist Worker, “This is mainly about causing disruption and creating awareness. As much as I’d like to peacefully, lawfully protest, we don’t have time for that.”

He said that the groups were busy planning for further action.

“We’re going to shut down Heathrow, the port of Dover and then London in October.”

Keen

Activists are keen to stay out on the streets to make the Tory government listen.

Rose told Socialist Worker, “I’m protesting because the government isn’t doing enough action. If we don’t change then extinction is an inevitability.

“We are the only people who are going to change what the government is doing.”

Activists in Cardiff decided on Wednesday to shut down the occupation, ending with a procession to City Hall.

Extinction Rebellion launches a ‘Summer Uprising’
Extinction Rebellion launches a ‘Summer Uprising’
  Read More

The occupation of Glasgow’s Trongate ended on Monday evening. The purple boat used to block streets was emblazoned with the message “the future you fear is already here”—alluding to the fate of climate refugees.

Dougie Graham from XR Scotland said, “Climate breakdown has already begun, with those hit first and hardest often the poorest and therefore least able to adapt.

“We are currently accepting a path where millions will be displaced or die. By not acting we are collectively complicit in this. We must act now!”

Activists in Bristol had to be cut free from a pink bathtub blocking a main road in the city centre leading to the M32 motorway. Over 200 rebels swarmed around the lock-on, speaking to motorists and supporting those arrested. 

Elsewhere in the city, XR representatives met with Labour mayor Marvin Rees to discuss the climate emergency.

Their pink boat hosted talks on rewilding, fracking, plastics and nuclear power alongside a sober rave and musical performances.

XR Youth locked themselves to a pink car surrounded by oil drums outside City Hall. XR Bristol tweeted its “thanks to the police for working with us to manage the situation with dignity and understanding”.

But it turns out the police—or at least one high-profile ex-cop—aren’t so impressed with them.

Extremism

Richard Walton, former head of counter-terrorism for the Metropolitan police, published an “Extremism Rebellion” paper for the right wing think tank Policy Exchange on Tuesday.

In it, he claims “extremist” XR are fighting for a “breakdown of democracy and the state”. Walton recommends that the cops crack down on XR demonstrations, that laws about protests are tightened and that all those charged should be prosecuted.

Walton retired in 2016 before the result of an investigation into his involvement into spying into the Stephen Lawrence campaign was concluded.

Now he touts himself as a counter terrorism expert to industry bodies, CBS news and think tanks.

So it will come as no surprise that he recommends that, “far left, anarchist and environmental extremism are sufficiently recognised and challenged within a wider national strategy on extremism.”

Action by ordinary people terrifies the rich and powerful. That’s why it’s essential that every worker, socialist and student joins the urgent fight against climate and ecological catastrophe.


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