The police are trying to intimidate Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists away from planned environmental protests. But the group says it will go ahead with “a long weekend of civil disobedience” and then action in major cities.
In an attempt to intimidate those who are planning to take part, the police sent XR a letter. It warned the group that organisers of gatherings of over 30 people could be fined over £10,000.
This is part of a Tory plan to cut back on gatherings that comes into force over the weekend and that allows exemptions for businesses and charities.
And five activists— including XR’s co-founder Roger Hallam—from the splinter group from XR called Beyond Politics—have been arrested on a count that they were conspiring to cause criminal damage.
A spokesperson for the group said that they would begin a hunger strike in order to protest their imprisonment.
Daze from XR youth told a press conference on Thursday about the group’s relationship with the police in light of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.
They said that “XR youth recognises how unjust the system is. People are realising this, “we saw the BLM protests and it made us reflect on our relationship with the police, we realised we needed to apologise and we needed to change.”
“The climate is just one part of the social justice we should be fighting for.”
Alejandra from the international solidarity group added that they wanted XR to be part of “movement of movements” and that they would join, “a much bigger story of a rebellion against the system”.
XR plans regional rebellions from Friday. They will include actions around petrol stations and financial institutions.
On Tuesday next week major rebellions will kick off in Cardiff, Manchester and London. Activists hope that thousands will be drawn to these demonstrations and that they will continue for two weeks.
XR says it will disrupt “key powers and parliament until they back the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill and set up a national Citizens’ Assembly”.
Panellists at the press conference were asked about their plans to target the aviation industry and what that could mean for thousands of workers whose jobs are already at risk because of the pandemic.
John from the communications team said that “the aviation industry needs to be eradicated or radically reformed. People will lose their jobs— we want people to be redirected— we want jobs to be created in safer industries that don’t harm the environment”.
Speakers from different groups within XR talked about their plans for the next rebellion and made it clear that protests must continue— in any form—during the pandemic.
Anneka from the XR actions group said that, “global emissions only dropped by 14 percent during this lockdown period. This show just how much more needs to be done to cut down. This is just one pandemic and the crisis that we are facing and is a sign of what is to come.”
They also urged people to get involved in actions that they could do from home if they are shielding, such as calling MPs and financial institutions.
Clare from the media messaging team reiterated just how important continuing the rebellion for climate justice is.
“XR was formed to deal with the intersecting crisis. But XR isn’t the story. This is about the failure of the government and a social contract to protect our wellbeing being broken”, she said.
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