Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists staged two more major direct actions in central London on Friday—the fifth day of their International Rebellion.
Protesters held sit-ins outside the BBC headquarters in central London and outside a conference of fossil fuel industry bosses near Liverpool Street rail station. It was the latest action of the rebellion, which began on Monday and has seen thousands of people occupy the streets of central London.
Hundreds of people occupied a busy intersection near Liverpool Street station, outside a hotel where fossil fuel bosses met for the 6th Government Oil and Gas Fiscal Summit.
Energy companies and lobbyists met to discuss how to get government investment and licences to extract oil and gas.
“It’s all about attracting investment in the gas industry,” said an XR statement. “Our government is complicit—in legislation, in subsidies, in vested industries.”
Some protesters glued themselves to a door of the hotel, while others locked their arms inside a metal oil drum filled with concrete. Many more simply sat in the road, while others danced around a samba band.
One activist told the crowd, “There are people in their counting up the money and they’re burning the world. They are guilty. They know what they are doing.”
Maggie is a former mineral and water planning commissioner at Cumbria county council. She told Socialist Worker, “The government is about to make decisions that grant oil and gas licences in its waters. The fossil fuel companies probably already have their bids in.
“But fossil fuel companies have already extracted enough oil and gas to burn the world. XR thinks that politicians shouldn’t be granting these licences—and that the fossil fuel companies shouldn’t be compensated either.”
Earlier in the day hundreds more protesters staged a sit-in outside the BBC’s headquarters, demanding that it “tell the truth” about climate change.
Two activists climbed on top of a glass awning above the main entrance, while the rest occupied the space in front of it. The protesters held a “people’s assembly”—breaking into groups to discuss what their demands should be—which they then fed back to the main body.
Selected activists then took those demands to BBC officials.
Taz, who came from North Devon to join the rebellion, told Socialist Worker, “We want them to come down and talk to us and broadcast it live.
“We want the BBC to declare a climate emergency. And we want them to tell the truth about it as well. A scientist has said the significance of the climate crisis is like the First World War and Second World War combined.
“That’s the kind of response we want.”
Meanwhile activists have continued to occupy what has become the main protest site at Trafalgar Square. But police have gradually begun clearing more of the road, and have lined the edges of the pavements with metal barriers to prevent it being reoccupied easily.
The cops have become more forceful with protesters—picking them up and pushing them roughly. As a line of cops moved towards a group of protesters, one officer warned them to move “because we don’t want to start hurting people”.
Many protesters told Socialist Worker the police had acted professionally—but also had stories of cops confiscating people’s belongings or arresting people without warning.
And many also told Socialist Worker they had just arrived to join the rebellion this weekend. XR plans to hold a march in London on Saturday, and trade union delegations are set to join it.
A statement by the PCS union today called on its members to “join the rebellion.”
Sarah, a protester at Liverpool Street station, told Socialist Worker, “I’m here for the weekend—I’m going to give it my all.
“And there’ll be more people coming tomorrow—the more the merrier."
Student assembly discusses climate action
Around 60 climate activists took part in a student assembly in Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens in south London on Friday night.
Hundreds of tents had been set up at the site to continue Extinction Rebellion’s (XR) International Rebellion.
The assembly discussed action at campuses across Britain, including planning for the next global climate strike on 29 November.
They called for demands on university bosses to divest from fossil fuels. One speaker called for a coordinated action across campuses nationally to encourage people to participate in the climate strike.
And people discussed how the movement can be linked to solidarity with potential strikes by the UCU university union.
The assembly decided to reconvene in the coming weeks and create a coalition of XR campus groups.
Students from the assembly then marched to join Rebels at Trafalgar Square to defend the space.