15 protesters were arrested at yesterday’s Extinction Rebellion protest in London, which saw campaigners blocking roads around the Houses of Parliament to draw attention to climate concerns.
More than 1,000 people took part in the Extinction Rebellion protest, described by the newly formed movement as the first stage in an “escalating campaign of civil disobedience” geared towards forcing action on the “unprecedented global emergency” of climate change. The group blocked traffic around Parliament Square for more than two hours in an impromptu sit-in, voted on by protesters after realising more people than expected had shown up.
Faith leaders, journalists and representatives of the Green Party gave speeches highlighting the risks posed by the current environmental crisis. Some protesters chained themselves together; others linked arms in peaceful defiance of approaching police officers. 15 Extinction Rebellion protest participants were arrested on suspicion of “obstructing the highway”, but all were eventually released without charge.
Turnout for the protest was significantly higher than the few hundred Extinction Rebellion protest organisers had anticipated, which campaigners said was a testament to citizens’ level of frustration and desire to take action on climate issues.
The Extinction Rebellion protest campaign plans to stage more civil disobedience events, including occupying bridges throughout London; and culminating in a sit-in in Parliament Square on November 17. In addition to traditional protest methods, activists will be running workshops and training across the country, discussing and instructing participants in non-violent direct action tactics. The group’s mission statement says: “The science is clear – we are in the sixth mass extinction event and we will face catastrophe if we do not act swiftly and robustly…[we] act in peace, with ferocious love of these lands in our hearts. We act on behalf of life.”
The Extinction Rebellion protest comes on the heels of reports that humanity has contributed to the extinction of 60 per cent decline in vertebrate numbers since 1970; and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s urgent call for “rapid, far-reaching” changes to human behaviour in order to avert climate disaster by 2030.
Correction: This post originally stated 60 per cent of vertebrate species had become extinct since 1970. The Living Planet report, from which this statistic was taken, actually states 60 per cent of populations have disappeared, rather than distinct species.