Thursday 18th April – Day 4 of the mother of all protests and we have managed to garner over 500 arrests, £250,000 in crowdfunding, and a whole heap of headlines. And on the ground, dare I say it, this is all starting to feel like business as usual. Dancing like gangbusters around the big pink party boat moored at Oxford Circus? Check. Chilled music and poetry on a plant lined Waterloo Bridge? Check. Moving and informative speeches on a car free Parliament Square? Check. A thriving community growing steadily beside Marble Arch? Check. Sun shining, children playing, people learning? Check. Check. Check.
That’s not to say we’re getting complacent. The ante is being upped. Vauxhall Bridge saw some early morning swarming, ‘Critical Mass’ saw over 100 Rebel riders cycle through central London’s streets, and the XR Children’s Assembly saw climate awareness being geared towards the very youngest in our ranks.
And obviously there’s always that police shaped menace lurking on the periphery, plotting how best to pluck us up and drag us away from the fun.
But the public keep coming, the affinity groups keep forming, the Rebel actions keep hatching, and this sporadic arrest malarky just isn’t cutting it. The Rebels bases are here, and they are not going away. Not until the Her Majesty’s Government plucks up its ears and changes its tune about climate change.
So welcome to the United States of XR, established 96 hours ago. You are all very welcome. The food is vegan. Enjoy your stay.
For a sonic supplement to our updates, please check out the XR podcast, releasing throughout the week.
After the veritable (non-violent) battleground of last night, where approximately 300 police officers were seen off by a lie-down singing circle and a marching samba band, Parliament Square has returned to the peaceful hub of climate learning and minimal policing that we all know and love.
Highlight of the day, by far, was the afternoon XR Children’s Assembly where around thirty kids aged from 1 to 8 years old played games, chased bubbles, and took part in specially tailored lessons on nature and the climate. So inspired were they by the experience that they elected to share what they had learned with the public. In what must surely be the youngest environmental activist speech ever (eat your heart out Greta) a 2 year old stood at the microphone and told people not to cut down trees. It was sunny all day, but there was not a dry eye in the house. The Children’s Assembly was followed by a bespoke talk especially for parents on how best to communicate with your child about climate change and encourage their little activist spirits.
And finally, there is now a man living atop a very tall tree on the northside of the square, overlooking the main tents. How he got up there, and how he will get down again, is a mystery, but it’s all very impressive.
UPDATE 11:00pm – the Police again surged in to try and take the square, kettling in Rebels who refused to move and instead sat in groups on the tarmac. Again a series of arrests were made but again the Rebels held firm! Our Parliament Square blockades remain for another day!
The Garden Bridge today had an extremely peaceful day, with music, live bands, choirs and groups of meditators occupying the beautiful space among the increasingly familiar trees and plants. The peaceful atmosphere seemed to finally affect our ever vigilant security forces because they carried out their duties today with gentleness and consideration. When one Rebel became quite distressed during their arrest, the arresting officer asked whether they were okay, and whether they preferred to walk or be carried to help put them at ease.
Meanwhile, under the warm glow of the Spring sunshine, skateboarders continued their skating, children continued their playing, and passers-by took the time to read the leaflets that helpful Rebels were handing out to them. As night fell, you could still feel the buzz in the air, as a 500-strong crowd of Rebels prepared to spend another incredible night on one of London’s major bridges.
And if that’s not enough bridge action for you, the morning of Day 4 also saw a twenty strong band of Rebels swarm Vauxhall Bridge, blocking the rush hour traffic with a big black banner and plenty of swagger.
The pink party boat started the day in sombre tones, hosting a truly moving speech from a rebel named Fox about the planetary destruction in our wake. This was followed by much dancing in the dirt.
Police decided to crash the party earlier than normal, and wielding more aggressive tactics than we’ve become accustomed to. A one hundred strong squad arrived around 2pm and made a beeline for the Barnacles (the Rebels attached to the base of the boat), surrounding them, manhandling them, shouting at them, and just generally being very rude party guests indeed. Half a dozen Barnacles were peeled from the bow before, inexplicably, the kettling ceased, the police withdrew, and the lovely, friendly, music-drenched atmosphere of The Pink Circus returned.
Never ones to get the message, the police returned for a second wave of Barnacle peeling and Rebel removing a few hours later. But as you might expect, for every Rebel that was dragged away (to chants of “we love you” and “this is how we win”) another came to take their place, and it wasn’t long before the police again retreated to their vans, rueing another plot foiled.
The Marble Arch citadel received its first royal visitor today (Hollywood royalty that is) with a visit from none other than Emma Thompson, yes that’s right, the oscar-winning actress Emma Thompson. The star of ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Sense & Sensibility’ toured the tents and gave words of eco-encouragement to the brave citizens of the XR heartland. And if you missed her on this fleeting visit and hope to see Emma again soon in another XR zone, well all I can say is, sometimes wishes do come true.
Other notable guests for Day 4 included ‘Smiley & The Underclass’ a punky reggae band hailing from this very capital that served up a musical storm on the main stage.
In less showbiz news, the Marble Arch citadel continues to expand and consolidate. With each passing day more gazebos pop up like mushrooms on a forest floor, and blockade groups are starting to become more autonomous, working to their own self-contained rotas. There’s never been more mouths to feed, yet the Marble Arch kitchen continues to fill them with culinary aplomb. Another hard days work was rewarded with a community nighttime screening of David Attenborough’s new BBC documentary ‘Climate Change: The Facts’.
Extinction Rebellion Critical Mass
Meanwhile, over 100 rebels on wheels took the streets around 5pm from Waterloo Bridge. The amazing, colourful throng of cyclists rang their bells and blew whistles as they swept through Central London in the late afternoon, picking up Rebels along the way.
En route to the BBC Broadcasting House, the riders managed to take over and effectively shut down the streets around Oxford Circus. At their destination, a crowd of 200 strong Rebel cyclists, flags in hand and dancing on the BBC’s doorstep, put forward a key demand of XR: that the BBC ‘Tell the Truth’ about ecological and climate emergency. The Rebel cyclists then sped off to lend a hand at several of the four XR held sites, and were spotted at Oxford Circus, on Waterloo Bridge, and around Parliament Square, where they halted arrests by forming a barrier between the Rebels and the Police.
Coming up …
Day of Love
FRI 19 APR 11:00 | OXFORD CIRCUS
Extinction Rebellion launches a ‘Day of Love’ with a procession of Youth Strikers marching from the Eros Statue at Piccadilly Circus to Oxford Circus.
They will be joined by actor and writer Emma Thompson, ‘White Gold’ star Lee Ross, and BAFTA Breakthrough Brit Paapa Essiedu. Together with Royal Court Young Agitators and activists from Extinction Rebellion, they will present a special performance of ‘Letters To The Earth’, a selection of over 1,000 letters written by celebrities, writers and members of the general public in response to the Climate and Ecological Emergency. The event will end with a song specially submitted by Yoko Ono, ‘I Love You, Earth’.
Getting involved in London’s Rebellion
The rebellion won’t last without Rebels. To maintain the pressure necessary for change, we need fresh faces to help in holding our locations. This could means being willing to sit in the road and face down arrest, but there’s a whole range of other ways to support what we’re doing: whether that’s offering to steward or be a legal observer, to bring food or to help organise a site.
Come to Parliament Square. We’re encouraging all budding rebels to start their journeys here: inductions take place at 11am, 1pm, 5pm and 7pm.
Or please, even if it’s just for a few hours, just get down to a site and ask how you can help!
Disclaimer: we’re deeply, deeply appreciate of our fellow rebels around the world, and will do our best to cover their incredible, moving and inspiring exploits – but we can’t promise to catch everything! If you have a story that we’ve missed, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Story’ in the subject line.
BREAKING TODAY: Coal export to Brisbane coal terminal stopped with 18 year old rebel holding strong atop a fully loaded coal train as part of the International week of #Rebellion demanding climate action immediately.
And another, Al is locked on to a half tonne barrel blocking all Aurizons coal trains. “I am taking real against corporations who profit from destroying our planet. This is to send a strong message across Australia and the world that people will stand up and fight for climate justice “
This week rebels in Melbourne and Adelaide have also been carrying out swarming and road blocking actions. With Melbourne activists camping out overnight.
Over the past week, XR Ghana have engaged in series of daily actions in the capital city Accra. These have included a visit to local officials of the United Nations, school children doing ‘Alarm Whistling Exercises’, the launching of a Youth Parliament to discuss the climate emergency, and a banner raising event in honour of the International Day of Peasants’ Struggle.
In Cape Town XR rebels declared their declaration of rebellion outside the Emergency Electricity summit called by the western cape chamber of business by singing Khoe songs and questioning delegates on how they will fulfil their promise to halt emissions by 2050.
Whilst in Johannesburg rebels delivered their demands and “letters to the earth” outside Gauteng provincial legislature.
Earlier this week, in Bhopal, Madhyaprades around 40 people heard the Hindi translation of Greta’s speech. People performed music, dance and gave speeches on the government’s inaction on climate crisis. They requested state and national government to declare climate emergency. On 16th April a group of school kids protested outside of the The Ministry of Environment.
Around 10 people also came together in the city of Dhanera, Gujarat, the state of Indian PM Modi. They requested the PM work towards clean air, water supply and to stop the massive industrialization which is damaging agricultural land and hampering millions of farmers. They also requested Indian Government and Gujarat state to declare climate emergency.
XR Sweden activists glued themselves to the doors of public service broadcaster SVT Nyheter.
XR-Norway staged a funeral procession to the Norwegian ministry of finance. An appeal was read out, asking Norway to halt plans to explore for oil in the Arctic, and to set an early date for the termination of oil and gas production.
Rebels in Vienna blocked the main street in the inner city, The Ringstraße, right in front of the town hall for 45 minutes, they had coverage in all major newspapers online and some print as well.
In Madrid rebels blocked the headquarters of Spain’s top polluter (number 37 globally) Repsol, accompanied by a die-in and performance.
Whilst in Barcelona rebels created the Extinction Rebellion symbol out of activists and then marched to the main government square and read out the declaration followed by a die-in.
In Granada a protest gathering was held in one of its main squares during which the declaration of rebellion will be read out by several signatories including pioneering environmentalist, Jorge Riechman.
Valencia also took a symbolic action, gathering several dozens who then proceeded to block a street with discarded plastic. Mallorca held a public reading of the declaration followed by a die in and in Puerto Real in Cádiz a large XR banner was hung at the main entrance of the town calling for a climate emergency.
Meanwhile at high altitude a group of mountain climbers climbed the Pyrenees and unfurled a banner atop a glacier, of which only 35% remains compared to its size in the 1990s.
In Zurich on Monday 250 rebels blocked a main bridge and the today in Lausanne there were more than 350 rebels blocking the grand bridge for a festive picnic! Several activists also organized a “Die-in” in front of Credit Suisse on Paradeplatz, police intervened but no arrests.
Following actions on Monday in Milan, Turin and Rome. Rome today witnessed Sound the Alarm Flash Mob….
Earlier this week, XR Youth France blocked flagship H&M store in Paris – tipping tons of salvaged H&M clothing outside the entrance blocking the entrance to highlight the fashion industries destructive overproduction and impact on environment. Other rebels have been swarming and road blocking in Paris in the lead up to an anticipated massive action on Friday.
XR portugal rebels highlighting the marriage between pollution and fast-fashion in this creative action outside of H&M store.
Rebels made the Extinction Rebellion sign on the beach in Antalya, Turkey
Enjoy reading about the highlights of London’s Rebellion? Well now you can listen to them too thanks to Extinction Rebellion Podlets – mini podcasts about the day’s XR happenings. They’re being released every other day, and Episode 2, which focuses on the arrestees of XR, is available for your listening pleasure here.
Share your footage!
We are collating a library of film & photo content for Extinction Rebellion.
Please send a link to media via your preferred online file sharing service and email email@example.com and the media will be added to the drive. Please email with your full name and details in case you need to be contacted for permissions needed for commercial use.
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If you’d like to share a story from the ground or join our global crew of roving reporter ants, then please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’d also really like to hear from rebels who are willing to share the ongoing stories of their Affinity Groups during the Rebellion. If this sounds like your cup of tea, please get in touch by emailing email@example.com.