Climate groups Just Stop Oil (JSO) and Insulate Britain blocked two roads near parliament and Downing Street on Wednesday. JSO’s says its occupation of Westminster, which began on 1 October, will continue until the government agrees to stop all new oil and gas licenses and consents.
On Horse Guards Road, a group of JSO activists from Scotland blocked the side of the road. When the cops arrived, two activists climbed on top of two police vans. At one point the cops tried to forcibly pull a banner out of one of the activist’s hands—but his palms were superglued to it. He was quickly able to wrestle it back from them.
Daniel, who had climbed on top of a van, told Socialist Worker, “I’m here because the science is really clear. We face, in the near term, societal collapse due to crop failure and vast areas of our world will become uninhabitable. And we’re not talking about some distant future—this is happening right now.”
Lee, who had travelled 16 hours from Aberdeen to get to London, was one of the JSO activists blocking Horse Guards Road. They told Socialist Worker that they couldn’t sit back and ignore the climate crisis.
“I am the eldest of six children,” they said. “My youngest sibling is just four years old. If we don’t do anything there’ll be no future for them. What we want is simple, and that’s no fossil fuel licensing.
Fellow JSO activist Rachel said she was sitting in the road for her young grandchildren and “all the future generations who are at risk.”
Jen, another activist blocking the road, told Socialist Worker, “I became an environmental scientist because I wanted to stop climate change. But I found out very quickly that the most important thing in the job was making profit.
“The environment was the sixth or seventh down the line of their priorities. No one was acting with the urgency they should have had.”
“The Tories’ economic policy that’s basically trickle-down economics will lead us to destruction,” said JSO activist Emma.
Rachel agreed, “We’re seeing what growth really means for this government and that’s no more money for ordinary people but more to millionaires.”
Not far from Horse Guards Road, around 25 supporters of Insulate Britain swarmed and blocked the street outside parliament.
Insulate Britain supporter Ruth, who has superglued her hand to the road, told Socialist Worker. “I’ve always been passionate about campaigning about climate change. I’ve written to my MP, marched on Downing Street and even started a charity. I’ve done everything.
“But what we were doing has not been working. It’s got too bad, and the government isn’t doing anything. As a Christian, I believe in looking after the world, and resisting evil, to me what I’m doing is resisting evil.”
As the action went on, passersby stopped to watch the activists block the roads.
Some hurled abuse at the protesters, mostly repeating the right wing media lie that Insulate Britain and JSO don’t move out of the roads for ambulances. This was shown to be false just minutes later, when the group quickly moved out of the way for an ambulance.
But many more ordinary people were interested and in support of JSO’s and Insulate Britain’s actions. A group of students, who were on a day trip in London, told Socialist Worker that they were in “complete support” of the demonstrations.
For a week and a half JSO, with the help of Insulate Britain and Extinction Rebellion, have blocked major roads and caused traffic chaos every day.
The Tories are ramping up their attacks on protesters—and want to hand more powers to cops. Liz Truss’s spokesperson said, “These sorts of protests which disrupt people’s daily lives or indeed can stop our emergency services from potentially saving lives are unacceptable.
“That’s why we’ve already toughened powers for the police. We’ve given them new powers to act and we are also taking further powers through the House at the moment to ensure they can go even further in preventing these individuals from disrupting people’s lives.”
Showing solidarity with JSO and other climate groups—and building mass mobilisations over the climate—is essential.
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