"We'll be at this for as long as it takes"
The climate change campaign group Extinction Rebellion have disrupted train services after revealing that they only plan to escalate their protest action across London.
Despite police having detained more than 300 people so far, activists continued to risk arrest today (April 17) by gluing themselves to a DLR train at Canary Wharf.
A campaigner who had super-glued himself to a carriage window was removed approximately an hour after the start of the DLR protest at about 10.50am, the BBC reports. BTP said a man had been arrested.
Additionally, a man and a woman who unfurled a banner and stuck themselves to the top of the train were also later removed by officers.
Back in March, Extinction Rebellion held the ‘Spring Rebellion’ festival in Bristol to train thousands for this week’s “peaceful nonviolent civil disobedience”.
Calling for government to take immediate action against pollution and climate change, protesters yesterday (April 16) caused a second day of disruption after camping out on Waterloo Bridge, Parliament Square and Oxford Circus to bring some of the busiest parts of London to a standstill.
Transport for London has now expected bus users to expect delays as they head to work in the morning rush. They tweeted: “Central London / Extinction Rebellion – Bus routes which usually serve central London are, again, diverted / curtailed due to on-going protest which are blocking several roads.”
The campaign group also said it plans to “non-violently disrupt Tube services to highlight the emergency of ecological collapse” on Wednesday if the Government refuses to meet its members.
They added: “Participants will peacefully break the law in order to stop the Tube and then will wait to be arrested. We sincerely apologise to all those who may suffer as a consequence of this disruption. In any other circumstances we would never dream of disrupting the Tube but this is an emergency.
“We request that workers do not intervene in the protests to ensure that they go as smoothly and safely as possible for all involved.”
Their hope is to “shut down London” until April 29, unless the government “tell the truth about climate change”, promise to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025, and create a citizens’ assembly to oversee progress.
The likes of Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien and Glastonbury festival organiser Emily Eavis have voiced their support for the group. Police say that 122 people have been arrested so far, with 500,000 people affected by the diversion of 55 bus routes. Now Extinction Rebellion say they only plan to heighten their efforts indefinitely until the government take action.
“The plan is for ongoing escalation,” Extinction Rebellion co-ordinator Howard Rees told NME from Waterloo Bridge yesterday. “Beyond the sites that we’re holding, we’re planning to roadblocks on adjacent roads and possibly some further, more secret actions. I don’t necessarily know what all of them are, because we’re a decentralised group and act in autonomy in line with our main principles: the key one is non-violence.”
Asked what it would take for the protests to be brought to an end, Rees replied: “I imagine that if we were invited to discuss them with the government, then we might ramp things down. Discussions alone aren’t enough, though. We’re in a state of emergency and we need it dealt with.
“We’ll keep going until we win. We’ve suggested that people take a couple of weeks of work, but that by no means that we’ll only be at this for two weeks. We’ll be at it for as long as it takes.”
Rees said that the protesters have people from all backgrounds and walks of life, but that young people are particularly out in force.
“We’re a pretty representative mix of all ages, just looking around the Bridge right now,” said Rees. “We are the British public. The involvement of young people has been fantastic. It’s been great to have them on board. Obviously they are going to be the most effected. We’re doing it for everyone, but mainly for them. They’re really taking a leadership in it all.”
He continued: “Young people have been refreshingly full of energy, but aware of the severity of what’s going on in a way that older people elsewhere perhaps aren’t. They’ve really got their eyes open and remain uncowed with a phenomenal optimism. It’s inspiring.”
Despite the arrests, Rees said that he’d felt an overwhelming sense of support for their cause – even from the police.
“The police have tried to clear us from Waterloo Bridge and we’ve held through the night and are holding strong now. Generally speaking, the police have been friendly and not heavy-handed. We’ve had some great conversations with them because broadly we’re all on the same side – we’re on the side of life.”
Speaking to NME yesterday (April 16) from the protest, attendee Roo said that he had travelled from Glastonbury to take part. He explained how the march will “hopefully be remembered as a turning point in climate politics and the way we’re handling the slaughter of the planet.”
Asked what will come of the action taken, Roo said that the government is “incredibly stubborn” on the issue of climate change. “I think they would rather the disruption that goes on to keep going on than to actually do something,” he said. “I’m not sure that this will do a whole lot, but I feel like if it’s sustained for long enough then some semblance of a revolution could be achieved.”
Discussing the community spirit amongst those taking to the streets, he added: “Everyone’s here to have a good time and contribute something big themselves. Everyone’s mood has changed and traffic’s changed for a couple of days, and I think that’s important enough.”
Lola, who also attended all day on Monday (April 15), told NME she is taking part as “there’s nothing more important” than the fight against climate change, explaining that “everyone needs to be upset and angry” over the government’s approach.
“The fact that this [march] is happening is just to prove that people are actually out there and doing things,” she said. “And I find it ridiculous that it’s even considered a political issue, because it’s not political. It’s our earth and there’s nothing more important than that.
“I’m just here to show that people care and it’s not just the old people – actually, we’re going to have to live with whatever you do to our planet.”
South Londoner Alex, who told NME that he’s a “nature lover”, said that he wants recognition as a young person, explaining how “generally, people’s values are in the wrong place”.
“Things are looking really bleak at the moment, I just need to get my voice heard,” he said. “It isn’t political, it’s just integral to the world to keep it going.”
According to the timeline on the group’s website, protesters will adopt a mode of “Open Rebellion For As Long As It Takes”.
“If there is still no response, we will begin to block roads outwards from the sites and continue to stage and escalate our creative nonviolent civil disobedience,” they said.
Check back at NME for more on the Extinction Rebellion march as it develops.