A protest in the heart of London’s financial districts by Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists on Monday heralded the start of the second week of action in the capital.
Hundreds of rebels occupied the junction outside Bank underground station—under the shadow of the Bank of England and a host of other financial institutions.
Other activists held “swarming” blockades around main streets in the City.
Liz had travelled to the International Rebellion from the anti-fracking occupation at the Preston New Road site in Lancashire.
She was holding a banner declaring “climate struggle = class struggle” and told Socialist Worker that “we want to disrupt so it’s not business as usual”.
“It’s absolutely a class issue—it affects poor people the most, and women the most,” she said.
“We want to get people to divest their money—to stop funding wars and everything that creates the climate breakdown.”
The “banking on a breakdown” action was organised to “call time on our broken financial system.”
“The City has repeatedly been implicated in systematic corruption with not a single individual held accountable, and not a single business model changed,” said an XR statement.
Scores of police confiscated all musical instruments and sound systems, and arrested those seen to be leading chanting or singing.
Paramedics gave cheers and thumbs up, and activists scattered to the side of the road in seconds to let ambulances pass.
Many activists argued that banks should withdraw their investments in oil and gas firms. Anna had made a banner demanding, “Divest from climate change.”
“There’s not so much awareness of how much money is invested in fossil fuels, including in things like pension schemes,” she said.
“I tried to choose a pension scheme that doesn’t invest in fossil fuels, but it’s not possible to do it with my employer.” A combination of cops from the Met and City of London police forces combined efforts in an attempt to get activists off the junction. But their pressure just meant more rebels joined the sit-in.
Jade was sat down near a police line when she told Socialist Worker that she was there to “stand up and be counted”.
“I’m going to hold my ground for as long as I can,” she said. “I understand the police have got a job to do, and many of them share our values—but we’ve got a job to do too.”
Tackling climate catastrophe will mean challenging the rule of financial institutions, and the rotten system they rely on.
And building a socialist system based on the interests of people and planet, over the interests of profit, will be central to that fight.