This past Saturday, November 17, an estimated 6,000 Extinction Rebellion activists occupied five bridges -- Lambeth, Westminster, Blackfriars, Southwark, and Waterloo -- in central London, U.K. to demand action against climate breakdown.
At least 85 people were arrested, most charged with obstruction under the Highways Act which carries with it a possible fine of up to £1,000 (about C$1,688).
Not surprisingly, London's Metropolitan Police were not impressed and told the Daily Express, "Given that the organizers failed to engage with police prior to the event, we were unable to work with them around their plan and to make considerations for other Londoners."
Events are being planned in cities around the globe, including in Canada.
This past weekend, Extinction Rebellion gatherings were organized by Extinction Rebellion Vancouver (which has a follow-up public forum already organized for November 29) and Extinction Rebellion Toronto.
The Extinction Rebellion movement was launched in London on October 31 and they have stated on their Facebook page that, "A rebellion on an international scale will follow in March."
Will we see similar occupations of the Cambie Street Bridge in Vancouver, the Alexandra Bridge in Ottawa (just down the street from the U.S. Embassy and Parliament Hill), the Mercier Bridge in Montreal (as it was during the Oka Crisis), and countless other bridges in communities across this country?
Only time, organizing capacity and commitment will tell.
After the bridges in London were held for four to six hours, the "conscientious protectors" gathered in Parliament Square to hear speeches and to begin preparing for further actions around central London, planned to resume on Wednesday, November 21.
Extinction Rebellion organizer Tiana Jacout told The Independent, "We have tried marching, and lobbying, and signing petitions. Nothing has brought about the change that is needed. And no damage that we incur can compare to the criminal inaction of the U.K. government in the face of climate and ecological breakdown."
Organizer Gail Bradbrook told The Guardian, "Only this kind of large-scale economic disruption can rapidly bring the government to the table to discuss our demands."
Those demands are:
1. The government must tell the truth about the climate and wider ecological emergency, reverse inconsistent policies and work alongside the media to communicate with citizens.
2. The government must enact legally binding policy measures to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 and to reduce consumption levels.
3. A national Citizens' Assembly to oversee the changes, as part of creating a democracy fit for purpose.
The Guardian notes, "In the past two weeks more than 60 people have been arrested for taking part in acts of civil disobedience organized by Extinction Rebellion ranging from gluing themselves to government buildings to blocking major roads in the capital."
There has also been the spray-painting of messages on the Prime Minister's Office at 10 Downing Street and at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (not dissimilar to the Department of Natural Resources in Canada), a banner hanging on Westminster Bridge, and a "Queer Party to Save the Amazon" that shut down the Brazilian embassy to protest the climate destructive policies of Brazilian president-elect Jair Bolsonaro.
Extinction Rebellion has raised about C$84,000 in the past few weeks and now has organizing spaces in central London to help coordinate further "respectful disruptions."
The Guardian adds, "The group is also making international contacts, with 11 events planned in seven countries so far, including the U.S., Canada, Germany, Australia and France."
In Canada, with the Trudeau government having spent $4.5 billion (with billions more in spending planned) on the proposed 890,000-barrel-per-day Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline, and with a recent study saying that if other countries followed the Trudeau government's policies it would push global warming to more than 5.1 degrees Celsius by 2100, bold action is needed in this country.
Brent Patterson is an activist-blogger who writes this monthly column on inspiring stories of global resistance to neoliberalism and climate change.
Photo: Extinction Rebellion/Twitter
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