Extinction Rebellion protesters from Peterborough join huge demonstration blockading Westminster
Environmental campaigners from Peterborough are among those taking part in a huge Extinction Rebellion protest which is blockading Westminster today (Monday).
Thousands of activists from across the UK are in London as Extinction Rebellion kicks off its latest act of mass civil disobedience.
The rebellion is being mirrored in dozens of cities around the world, from Dublin to Buenos Aires, in a series of actions that the activist group expects to be its biggest campaign of disruption so far.
Ahead of the action, more than 9,500 activists pledged to take part in the London action although organisers are expecting the eventual number to be as high as 30,000 over the course of the action, which could last up to two weeks.
This would make the event several times bigger than the action Extinction Rebellion took in April, which brought parts of central London to a halt for more than a week.
In today’s action, activists are hoping to blockade 11 roads in Westminster and several government departments. As they are arrested and taken away the plan is that new people will come into replace them, potentially enabling them to maintain the blockades for days on end, the organisers said.
Of the activists that have pledged their support before the action began, 4,442 have said they are prepared to be arrested - considerably higher than the 1,100 who were arrested in April’s rebellion.
Meanwhile, 2,194 have said they are prepared to go to prison and 1,704 to stage a hunger strike to get the Government to seriously step up the action it is taking to curb climate change.
Other actions will take part in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Santiago, Cape Town, Sydney, Mumbai, New Delhi and Madrid.
After causing so much disruption to London in April the Metropolitan police is taking additional measures to control the protest this time.
It has drafted in specialist police teams from around Britain while the officers will move from eight hour to 12 hour shifts from today, to free as many officers as possible from regular duties.
On Saturday night police raided an Extinction Rebellion warehouse in Kennington, confiscating tents, portable lavatories and equipment for people with disabilities.
They arrested 10 people as part of the raid on suspicion of conspiracy to cause public nuisance.
Campaigners from Extinction Rebellion’s group in Peterborough are among those taking part in today’s protest.
Nurse Anna Bunten said: “If we don’t reduce carbon emissions quickly and drastically (by 40-60 per cent over the next 12 years according to the IPCC report) then we risk total climate collapse in my children’s lifetime. This knowledge is a deep sadness I have carried, for my children, my community and for the loss of biodiversity of the natural world that fills me with so much wonder.
“It also fills me with fear, for the loss and suffering that is yet to come: hunger, extreme weather, death, mass migration, the rise of fascism? I recognise my professional duty to act as whistleblower to the system and face any consequence for this. I cannot ignore this evolving health emergency.”
Mum of two young boys Carys Vaughan said: “I joined Extinction Rebellion a few months ago after feeling a growing unease and anxiety around the climate crisis and the apparent lack of any moral leadership from governments far and wide. With a heavy heart I am going to London to do my small bit for the future of my children and all children and future generations to come. They stand on our shoulders.”
Val Harvey said: “I’m 81 years old and I’ve been on an ecological and environmentalist journey for a long time. I’m a retired social worker in the mental health field so want to reduce the emotional pain we are facing, hence my local activities.”
Andrew Moore said: “I have been a primary school teacher for 20 years, trying to provide children with the skills, attitudes and opportunities to live happy, fulfilling lives and to make our world a better place for everyone.
“But what is the point of all that work if the world we are preparing them for is collapsing? In April I met an ex-pupil while ‘taking’ Parliament Square on the first day of the protests.
“How could a responsible teacher not support her in demanding a hopeful future? I also have two daughters of my own. How could I look them in the eye if I sat back and let the world I brought them into descend into chaos?”
Lynsey Saker said: “I worry about what the future has in store for my nieces, they are lovely happy little girls full of joy and excitement about growing up.
“I want to know, and I want them to know, I did all I could to help this fight to save and protect our beautiful planet.”
Victoria Valentine said: “The science is incontrovertible regarding the severity of the climate change that is taking place now and the destruction of our biosphere and the associated loss of biodiversity. The only way of mitigating the worst effects of this is to take drastic and sweeping actions at governmental level.”