Socialist Worker

Extinction Rebellion continue to fight for the climate

by Sarah Bates
Issue No. 2721

XR Protest in London

XR Protest in London (Pic: XR)


Climate rebels have turned their fire on the billionaire-owned press, racist Home Office and cash-guzzling HS2 developers in their latest protests.

Extinction Rebellion (XR) protests—which began on Tuesday in London, Manchester and Cardiff—have drawn thousands of people worried about the climate crisis onto the streets.

And XR scored a victory when action by rebels in Knowsley, near Liverpool and Broxbourne in Hertfordshire delayed distribution of major national newspapers.

Dozens of arrests were made at each site as rebels locked themselves to each other, bamboo structures and a truck.

Billionaires

“Just five billionaires control 70 percent of British media and they routinely ignore the climate and ecological emergency,” said the group.

“They campaign for their interests and politicians, while missing The Story that our lives are distorted and threatened by endless consumption and pollution.”

The Sun, The Times, The Daily Telegraph, and The Daily Mail newspapers were all prevented from being sent out from the sites after rebels blockaded entrances to the printing presses.

In Knowsley, a yellow boat that was previously part of a regional rebellion in Leeds declared, “Fuck Murdoch Fuck Rothermere, Refugees are welcome here.”

The anti-racist theme was taken up in London where hundreds of people marched to the Home Office to demand that “climate justice is migrant justice”.

XR Protest in London

XR migrant protest (Pic: XR)


Rebel Jenny was one of those occupying the roads, and she told Socialist Worker that “Politicians don’t think this through—migration and climate change are interlinked. If the climate is screwed up people will have to find someone to live.”

She said limiting temperature rise was a key demand and called on the government to “stick to the 1.5 degrees target”.

“The hope is you’ll avoid the worst effects, but the 1.5 degrees is being slowly replaced by them saying ‘don’t worry, we’ll stop before 2 degrees’—it’s quietly moving the goalposts.”

Laura had travelled up for the action from Sevenoaks and said it was “moving to see so many people here”.

“I’m a stay at home mum now, I don’t have a paid job. With climate change this is a way through the chaos—it makes me feel solidarity, to be surrounded by people to care.”

Helen Brewer, a member of the Stansted 15 group who stopped a deportation flight in March 2017, talked about racist immigration policies.

“We need to challenge the systems and the logic that builds prisons and borders and recognise how they target the most marginalised.

“It is through resistance and collective struggles that make it possible to feel collective power, the blocking of a deportation flight was a collaborative action. Not single issue movements, but tied to each other's struggles, to help us move closer to something that truly represents justice,” she said.

And on the day that construction officially began, action against the HS2 high speed railway project was ramped up.

XR Murdoch protest

XR newspaper protest (Pic: XR)


Hundreds of rebels gathered in Parliament Square to listen to speeches from activists battling the construction, including those by megaphone directly given from the treetop encampment.

But the police confiscated the PA system while a rebel dressed as “Boris the Bank Engine” read a HS2-themed bedtime story to the crowd.

Jellytot, an activist threatened with a prison sentence because of their activity stopping HS2 construction said, “We have had an incredible impact”.

Huge cheers erupted throughout the square when they described how camps have “delayed work by up to 12 months in some areas.”

“The reason why this is going ahead is because people are struggling to survive, people have children to feed.

“They have no other choice. I was speaking to someone on a gate, and he said the only reason why he took a job is because his children were asking when they were next going to eat.”

Trespass

And XR Lawyers member Paul Powlesland, slammed how HS2 bosses were using extra legal powers to target activists for civil offences such as trespass.

He blasted the courts that “make injunctions to prohibit environmental protest, to punish it harshly, to affirm property rights and to destroy nature.”

In Euston, where the HS2 terminus is set to be built, treetop protests established a protest camp on Tuesday.

Rebel Leayn climbed a 150 foot crane on Saturday morning and hung a banner declaring “HS2 is corrupt”.

“We need to end HS2 and the ruin it has caused, its ruining lives making 1000s homeless, it’s ruining our countryside, destroying 108 ancient woodlands, it’s ruining our economy through corruption.”

She said it was “ten times more expensive per mile than high speed rail elsewhere, and it’s ruining our future by accelerating the climate and ecological emergency when we must apply the brakes!"


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