By Alana Harris.
Extinction Rebellion is an international crusade which has been generating headlines ever since their Declaration of Rebellion in October 2018. The group’s first peaceful civil disobedience took place in London on Parliament Square, with an expected turnout of around 200 people. Instead, over 1,500 people came to participate and the Extinction Rebellion (XR) phenomenon began.
What is Extinction Rebellion?
Extinction Rebellion describes itself as ‘an international movement that uses non-violent civil disobedience in an attempt to halt mass extinction and minimise the risk of social collapse’.
The group defines their methods of civil disobedience as ‘necessary’, hoping to shake the current political system to bring about change, seeking to create a world that is fit for future generations.
They explain on their Facebook page: ‘We are facing an unprecedented climate, ecological, and social emergency resulting from the values which underpin our toxic economic and political system.’
The People of XR
The group is inclusive of anybody who wants to join the movement ‘young, old, black, white, indigenous, of all faiths and none, of all genders and sexualities and none: being alive on earth now is all the qualification required.’
The group frequently uses the hashtag #WeAreYou and appeal to anybody to join their movement to help pursue change from the world’s governments.
The Groups Action So Far
Since the groups first demonstration, its numbers have grown monumentally, with off-shoot groups forming all over the world – with mass success and media attention.
A few weeks after the ‘Declaration of Rebellion’, 6000 individuals joined the London movement across two Rebellion Days in November 2018. Five major bridges over the River Thames were blocked, trees were planted and a coffin representing the future of the world was buried in the middle of parliament square, rebels superglued themselves to the gates of Buckingham Palace and held a funeral march. Across the two days, action was also taken in other locations throughout the UK with groups forming in Manchester, Sheffield, Wales and Edinburgh.
In January 2019, rebels occupied the Scottish Parliament debating chamber in Edinburgh. In February, council chambers were liberated in Norwich and Gloucestershire and at London fashion week, roadblocks were held outside multiple venues calling for the British Fashion Council to declare a climate emergency.
In March, protesters poured buckets of fake blood on the road outside of Downing Street, representing the endangered lives of the world’s children, and in Australia a Declaration Day was held in Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane.
On April 1st half naked rebels glued themselves to the glass in the House of Commons viewing gallery during a Brexit debate, and beginning on April 15th XR began its international rebellion with action taking place in 80 cities within 33 countries. In London demonstrations were held at four locations across 11 days which ended with over 1,100 people being arrested.
Since the first international rebellion in April of this year, the group has held numerous other demonstrations all over the globe. Prominent demonstrations included XR’s three-day protest targeting London Fashion week in September and the spraying of the London Treasury with 1800 litres of fake blood on October 3rd. Now Extinction Rebellion has embarked on its second international rebellion with XR Unchained.
The groups newest movement started on October 7th and is set to last two weeks with XR claiming that the protest will be five times bigger than the April demonstrations. Across the two weeks XR aims to peacefully occupy central power locations internationally, with the aim to shut the sites down until governments act on the climate and ecological emergency.
Promoting the movement, the group called for people to ‘Leave your desk. Invite your boss. Walk out of school. Switch off the TV. Put down your phone. Get on the streets. And bring everybody.’
Marches, sit-ins, roadblocks, hunger strikes and other action has been taking place all week throughout 60 cities worldwide in countries such as South Africa, the USA, Australia, India and Germany. By Friday, Italian rebels entered their fifth day of hunger strikes, XR Dublin saw its first arrests, 3,000 rebels gathered at the Brandenburg Gate in Germany and London rebels held a 13-hour occupation outside of the BBC headquarters.
At the end of the first week of protest, 1,307 arrests were recorded to have taken place in London and a further 1,463 internationally. With another week of protests still to come, these numbers are expected to significantly rise.