October 10th, 2019
Extinction Rebellion, arguably one of the most prominent and radical
climate action groups of our time, owes its ascent to tree felling protestors,
at least in England.
Simon Bramwell, a Bristol man, is credited with
igniting the civil disobedience movement back in 2015. Bramwell, who told The
New York Times recentlyabout
his great fear of heights, climbed into a tree to stop workers from cutting a
whole row of trees to make space for a new bus lane.
Soon he managed to galvanise other activists who helped him make
platforms among the trees to sit on. The protest went on for a few weeks before
authorities removed Bramwell and cut down the trees.
But that ending marked the beginning of a more massive and more resistant crusade. Three years after the unsuccessful tree rebellion, Bramwell and his fellow activists convened at a café in Bristol to attend what they believe was the first official XR meeting.
Detained for Climate
Non-violent, direct action in the form of mass disruption of what
eco-activists refer to as a “business as usual” urban routine is at the heart
of XR’s plan to raise awareness about the climate crisis.
The approach has captured universal attention as protestors lie dormant
in the face of arrest, leading to numerous detentions worldwide.
Urging their members to get arrested to amplify a cause is an age-old
strategy of civil disobedience, most successfully employed during the civil rights movements in America in
On Monday – the first day of international rebellion week – activists
in London shut down roads and bridges near the Parliament and refused to move
to Trafalgar Square where they would have a lesser impact on traffic.
At least 280 climate activists were detained in London on Monday,
according to the British police, joining a growing list of climate detainees that
has surpassed the 1,000 mark.
Similar protests are being held and continue to materialise in other
countries, including Ireland, Germany, Australia, the Netherlands and the US.
In New York, XR
activists shocked tourists and other New Yorkers by lying in a pool of fake
blood outside the New York Stock Exchange, bringing the city’s key financial
district to a standstill. According to the New York Police Department, about 90
protesters were arrested on Monday.
The number of arrests continues to rise worldwide with dozens reported to have been detained at London City Airport today where XR members tried to highlight the emissions impact of flying. An Aer Lingus flight to Dublin was delayed by over an hour after an XR member staged an on-board protest and was removed prior to take-off.
Here to Stay
Although protestors have vowed to complete this week’s action plan, many
tents, as well as their occupying protestors, have been cleared away from
streets around the world and police forces appear determined to restore the
“business as usual”.
XR activists, however, remain unfazed. In Dublin, Irish XR members stormed Penny’s
and Brown Thomas yesterday to highlight the exacerbating impact of fast-fashion
on climate change.
The protests also continued in London today with incidences of police’s rough treatment of protestors during today’s XR occupation of London city airport being reported. Hundreds of police officers are reported to have been called up to London today to help the Metropolitan police manage the sit-ins.
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