|Volume 49 Number 18, October 19, 2019||ARCHIVE||HOME||JBCENTRE||SUBSCRIBE|
Impressions from an activist
On October 16 many hundreds of people came together in Trafalgar Square continuing the two week action over climate change. They came in defiance of a police ban on any Extinction Rebellion (XR) gathering anywhere in London imposed last Monday evening. For four hours people spoke, listened, discussed, deliberated, sang together, and shared moments of silent thought.
A science broadcaster explained she had known very little about the climate crisis till the XR protests last April, which spurred her to investigate. Now she is one of over 1,000 scientists across the world who have signed a joint declaration, stating: "We believe that the continued governmental inaction over the climate and ecological crisis now justifies peaceful and non-violent protest and direct action, even if this goes beyond the bounds of the current law," and supporting those protesting across the world. If we have presented the science and governments will not listen, then we have to act.
Many spoke of the government's silence in the Queen's Speech on climate crisis. A retired police chief superintendent, who had himself been arrested during the current protests, said the government speaks of targets, but if there is a target there should be a plan to achieve the target.
"We who are campaigning today are standing on the shoulders of giants," an XR campaigner reflected, "those who have given their lives to defend their land and the environment in parts of the world on the front line of the effects of climate change, and here in this country those like Friends of the Earth and Green Peace who have for so many years been fighting this issue. Who would have thought one year ago when XR started we would have gained such huge support," he said.
"Thank you from XR to all of you who have come here, at risk of arrest, because you recognise the urgency to speak out against the ban of lawful protest. As we stand here in Trafalgar Square where so many have stood before, we know the Government has lost the argument. They are trying to silence our discussion, debate, democracy."
Others spoke of the right of people to come together for their demands, and the attempt to suppress those rights, labelling us as domestic extremists. From the Levellers to the Mass Trespassers at Kinder Scout, ordinary people are the ones who change history.
What course of action should we take in light of the governments silence and their attempt to silence us? This was the question presenting itself for collective deliberation in the people's assemblies this afternoon.
XR are also challenging the police ban through the law they described the ban as a "disproportionate and unprecedented attempt to curtail peaceful protest".
According to news reports, activists have been granted the go-ahead for a judicial review of the Metropolitan Police's public order banning more than two climate activists convening anywhere in the city. The hearing at the High Court was scheduled for Thursday afternoon.