By Sophie Squire
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XR rebels defy cops with London occupation

The movement has become more radical as it faces politicians' inaction
Issue 2801
150 people with green, pink and yellow XR gathered around a car sitting in at Marble Arch in London

XR supporters occupying the area around Marble Arch on Saturday (Pic: Extinction Rebellion)

Around 3,000 Extinction Rebellion (XR) supporters marched, occupied and defied the police in London on Saturday at the end of over a week of action. The day ended when, despite the cops, activists surrounded a limousine and occupied the road around March Arch. 

They had swarmed onto an oil tanker off Bayswater Road in central London earlier in the day and hung a banner on it that read “End fossil filth”. Later thousands of people gathered in Hyde Park to call for an end to fossil fuel investment. 

Jane had travelled from south west Wales to be part of this rebellion and had already been arrested for her role in blocking a road earlier in the week. She told Socialist Worker that she hoped she would have her day in court. “Joining the rebellion and getting arrested has all been for my community. I’m doing all of this because we still aren’t seeing the shift needed to save the planet. 

Recently Boris Johnson announced a plan to construct eight new nuclear power stations. Jane said she was “furious” about this announcement.  “It is scary what they are suggesting. How can we possibly justify nuclear power? They will leave behind a dangerous legacy for future generations. And climate change itself could lead to more nuclear accidents. 

“The sites that have been suggested are only just above sea level. That’s terrifying with waters rising due to climate change.” 

Many of those on the demonstration were furious about right wing attacks on XR and other groups such as Insulate Britain and Just Stop Oil. Katie from Essex held a sign that read, “We have jobs, we move for ambulances. Can we talk about the climate crisis now.” 

She told Socialist Worker that the attacks climate activists face, especially by the right wing media, are just “deflection”. 

“The climate crisis will kill and displace millions of people. We are trying to sound the alarm. But all the mainstream media are doing at the moment is make us out to be the villains. I really think they want to divide us.” 

Rebels marched from Hyde Park, taking a route that passed the offices of Saudi Aramco, the oil company that has pumped out 71 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2019 alone.

Student Zach is an activist in Just Stop Oil which have been occupying and blockading fossil fuel infrastructure since the beginning of April. He told Socialist Worker that at just 15, he was the youngest Just Stop Oil activist to get arrested for taking part in direct action. 

“I took part because I know the government won’t listen. They won’t do anything that disrupts business as usual. 

“At the same time I feel like the Tories and the right wing are trying to incite violence against us. I saw that XR activists got hit by a car, and commentators said they wished that happened to us. 

“It’s dehumanising. But we know we have to do what we can. We’re tired of this bullshit.” 

Charlotte is a teacher in the NEU union. She said, “The climate crisis needs to be part of the curriculum for all. Children need to know what’s happening and how those in power do nothing. 

“The curriculum at the moment doesn’t encourage dissent. Young people have huge potential. It was amazing to see the school strikes. We need to see so much more of that.” 

At Hyde Park rebels heard from Extinction Rebellion speakers. Rob from the Jubilee for Climate group told the crowd that the only way to move forward was to challenge the capitalist system. 

“I want to tell the truth, and I think at this point it is critical that we do. We must be more radical. Economic warfare is going on. 

“The oil blockades are good, but five more heads will grow if we don’t change the system when we cut down one head. We can’t just declare a rebellion. We have to declare a revolution” he added. 

 XR’s ten-day rebellion showed that many thousands want radical action as the climate crisis becomes more urgent.

  • Sunday is an XR day of well-being and celebration. For details go here

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