Socialist Worker

Extinction Rebellion takes on the right wing media barons

by Sarah Bates
Issue No. 2721

Rebels on the streets of London

Rebels on the streets of London (Pic: Guy Smallman)


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

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

Cops made 80 arrests as people locked themselves to each other, bamboo structures and a truck.

“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.

Rebelling against the system
Rebelling against the system
  Read More

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 chanting, “Climate justice is migrant justice.” 

Jenny, who was one of those occupying the roads, told Socialist Worker, “Politicians don’t think this through—migration and climate change are interlinked. 

“If the climate is screwed up people will have to find somewhere else to live.”

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

Paid 

Laura had travelled up for the action from Sevenoaks, Kent, 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,” she said. 

“With climate change this is a way through the chaos—it makes me feel solidarity, to be surrounded by people who care.”

Helen Brewer, a member of the Stansted 15 group that 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,” she said. “Resistance and collective struggles 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.” 

In Cardiff, 1,000 rebels marched through the streets with activists from anti-racist, anti-austerity, housing and LGBT+ campaigns. 

Hussein Said from Stand Up to Racism Cardiff talked about the power of “anti-racist groups 

working in collaboration with XR and other environmental campaigners”. 

He said they “have the opportunity to show the very clear links between climate crisis, colonialism, refugees and racism”.


Apply the brakes to HS2

Activists escalated their action against the HS2 high speed rail project last week on the day that construction officially began.

Hundreds of people gathered in Parliament Square to listen to speeches from activists battling the construction. 

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

Jellytot, who is threatened with a prison sentence because of their anti-HS2 activity, said, “We have had an incredible impact.”

HS2—the high speed rail that’s a slow speed fail
HS2—the high speed rail that’s a slow speed fail
  Read More

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

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

In London Euston, where the HS2 terminus is set to be, rebel Leayn climbed a 150-foot crane on Saturday morning. 

She hung a banner declaring, “HS2 is corrupt.” 

Leayn said HS2 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,” she said. 


Tory fines threaten protest rights

Extinction Rebellion (XR) could be facing a new crackdown by cops. 

Tory ministers are reportedly looking into giving police greater scope to stop protests. 

The move was said to come directly from Boris Johnson and home secretary Priti Patel, who want to review if XR could be classified as an organised crime group. 

The clampdown comes directly after rebels stopped millions of right wing newspapers from reaching the stands last Saturday. 

LGBT+ protests cancelled after police threats
LGBT+ protests cancelled after police threats
  Read More

XR blasted reports that Johnson was targeting them, and said climate denier and media baron Rupert Murdoch was the one responsible for organised crime. 

“If we are to have any hope of changing course the public need to be accurately informed about the threats they are facing,” XR said. 

“With the flow of information in the grasp of a few powerful billionaires with ties to the fossil fuel industry and hands on the shoulders of our politicians the prospects don’t look good.”

Under coronavirus legislation, organisers of gatherings of more than 30 people could risk a fine of £10,000. 

The Metropolitan Police said it is considering 20 people for a fine, including organisers of a Citizens’ Assembly, due to be held in Trafalgar Square last Saturday. 

XR isn’t the only organisation in the firing line. 

Police leant on organisers of two LGBT+ protests to call off the events, which were due to take place in London last Saturday. 

The march over the right wing Polish government’s attacks on LGBT+ rights and a protest organised by the Trans Rights Collective UK were both cancelled.


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