Climate change protesters with Extinction Rebellion (XR) are staging protests in towns and cities across Britain over the weekend, ahead of a new International Rebellion.
XR groups staged marches and direct actions in several places on Saturday, many focussing on airports and fossil fuels.
A large demonstration in Brighton saw off “Lightship Greta”—a symbolic warning boat that activists are dragging all the way to London.
Protesters began in Brighton’s Pavilion Gardens, then marched along the seafront to the i360 viewing tower which is owned by British Airways.
Marchers linked their struggle to the Black Lives Matter movement. They chanted “Justice for Jimmy Mubenga”—an asylum seeker who was killed by security guards as they restrained him on a British Airways flight on which he was being deported.
Activists marched on Bristol airport against expansion plans. They gathered at nearby Felton Common then—many wearing air traffic controller costumes—marched up the road to stage a demonstration.
Protesters are opposing bosses’ scheme to overturn a ban on the expansion of Bristol airport. North Somerset council rejected planning permission for the expansion in February, saying it would be harmful to the environment.
The decision came after a campaign against the expansion by environmental activists. But airport bosses are appealing to the government to get the decision overturned.
XR activist Ben Moss said, “When the refusal of Bristol International Airport expansion plans became international news in February this year, everyone thought we’d seen the death of the terrifying fantasy of an expanded airport in this time of ecological and climate emergency.”
The action was part of a series of protests and stunts centred around a main protest site at Prince Street in Bristol, set to end on Monday.
Other protests took place in cities such as Leeds. Bosses want to build a new terminal at Leeds Bradford Airport.
Activists protested in Millennium Square and outside Leeds Art Gallery, while a group of cyclists held a bike ride around the city.
A spokesperson for Leeds XR said, “It breaks my heart to see that businesses, corporations and individuals are still putting profit before the health and wellbeing of humans and all life on this planet.
“I hope that more people realise that if we join together for the same cause we will have the power to change before we destroy ourselves completely.”
Meanwhile in south London, activists protested near fossil fuel company Shell’s headquarters.
And in north London protesters took action to demand the closure of an incinerator in Edmonton.
Members of the North London Waste Authority, which is made up of councillors—most of them Labour—from north London boroughs want to rebuild it instead.
The protests followed a day of banner drops by groups across the country on Friday.
In Birmingham, up to 300 protesters marched against plans to construct the HS2 highspeed railway line from London. Protesters began at the construction site at Birmingham New Street station, marched to the nearby HS2 headquarters for a rally, then marched back.
Protester Alistair told Socialist Worker, “It was probably the largest XR demonstration we’ve had so far in Birmingham. The march back to the building site was noisy and colourful and people in the city centre joined in.”
Some activists entered the building site and occupied a digger. One protester, Andy, had to go to hospital after being assaulted by a security guard. “He came up out of the corner of my eye and launched me into the digger,” Andy told Socialist Worker.
“They shouldn’t be assaulting people—it’s a peaceful protest.”
In Cambridge, eight protesters were arrested after chalking “oily handprints” on the walls of Christ’s College and Trinity College, demanding they divest from fossil fuels. And in Bristol, two teenagers were arrested during a roadblock at the Clifton Suspension Bridge.
It comes after five activists—including XR founder Roger Hallam—were arrested earlier this week.
But XR activists are determined to push ahead with the International Rebellion, which is set to take place in London, Cardiff and Manchester from Tuesday of next week.
For details of all the events go to bit.ly/XRfor2020