Climate group Just Stop Oil (JSO) began its indefinite occupation of Westminster with angry protests, blocking bridges and roads.
Activists met at several different points around London and marched across the city to end up in Parliament Square.
In Parliament Square the protest swelled to well over 1,000. Occupiers were still present on Saturday evening.
Francis joined a march at Euston. She told Socialist Worker that “The Tories are pushing for more extraction of fossil fuels, despite all the evidence. Everyone can see that the climate is changing and the destruction it will bring. For me and a lot of others, the extreme droughts and floods were a big wake-up call,” she said.
Ruth, a member of the anti-war Trident Ploughshares group, also joined the demonstration from Euston. She said that the drive to war will lead to more climate destruction. “We really are at crisis point. The war in Ukraine is giving those in power an excuse to keep extracting fossil fuels that are killing the planet.
“The likely sabotage of gas pipelines will be absolutely disastrous for the environment. The leaking of methane gas into the seas will mean more destruction.”
Many of those at the demonstration were members of Extinction Rebellion (XR). Kush is part of XR doctors. He told Socialist Worker that he was compelled to protest as “patients’ lives are being put at risk by climate change.”
“I’m here because the climate crisis is a health crisis. We’re seeing infectious diseases spreading to parts of the world where they’ve never been seen before.
“Extreme weather events will lead to more heat-related illnesses. It’s my responsibility to do something.”
Kush and Ruth both agreed that workers’ role in the climate fight was essential. “Now is the time to fight for our rights on every level,” said Kush.
“Fighting for fair pay, is part of that fight I think. It’s really only through collective action in every level of society that we can make a change.”
A number of activists who had attended the Enough is Enough rally at King’s Cross joined JSO activists as they marched to Parliament Square.
Other JSO activists had stood on picket lines with strikers in the CWU and RMT unions earlier in the day.
Lauren, who has travelled to London from Newcastle, said that they only joined Just Stop Oil because they believed the movement was clear on social justice.
“Of course, we want to exist on a liveable planet, but we also want to be able to pay our bills. JSO was the first group I met that responded with the right sense of urgency to this crisis. That’s why I got involved,” they said.
Lauren told Socialist Worker about direct action at Kingsbury oil refinery. “If we want our demands met I know we need to escalate our action. I think the most important thing is we get the maximum amount of people involved in protest and direct action.”
When the different marches arrived in Parliament Square activists sat on the roads and heard speeches from speakers in the We all Want to Just Stop Oil Coalition.
JSO will continue its occupation throughout October, with different regional groups set to occupy Westminster on different days. Activists are clear that they will not stop their occupation until oil production ends.
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