11th October 2019
- We need to raise awareness to those in positions of power about the breadth of the ecological collapse and the urgency with which they must respond.
- Local activists have taken time off work to participate in mass mobilisation at the back of Downing Street and 5 have been arrested
Five local Extinction Rebellion members from Chelmsford were arrested yesterday next to Downing Street.
They risked their liberty in attempt to help hit the message home: when the UN Secretary General warns the world that we face an ‘existential threat’  and the scientific consensus from the UN IPCC states that we have the technology to solve this crisis, what we lack is ‘political will’  – where is the action?
Since 7th October, thousands of activists across the globe have mobilised in 60 cities with the Extinction Rebellion movement. In London, local activists were joined with rebels from across the East of England and the Midlands on Horse Guards Road – at the back of Downing Street. The theme of the roadblock was Love and Regeneration.
Compared to many of the other sites held by rebels from other parts of the country, the police presence was constant but they did not try to clear the site on day 1 or 2.
By midday on day 3, a large number of officers entered the site – 3 members of XR Chelmsford attached themselves, via a two person lock on, and a third super-glued himself to the road. Police officers asked people to move to Trafalgar Square, a designated area where it is permissible to protest. When those on the roadblocks refused to move, 5 members were arrested at approximately 3.30pm.
Two rebels not attached were escorted to a makeshift compound while waiting for a police van.
The remaining three rebels waited while dedicated removal teams arrived. Two rebels were not allowed to eat or drink anything while under arrest.
The symbolic Red Rebel Brigade showed up, adding clear poignancy to the moment. Arrestables were supported by other members from XR Chelmsford who stayed to witness the arrest process alongside many other rebels and curious bystanders.
The two rebels locked on were cut out and handcuffed, while the male who super-glued himself to the street was unglued by specialist teams.
Arrestees were taken to Wembley, Brixton and West End police stations where they were detained from 3-4 hours. Three of them were released under investigation (awaiting confirmation about the other two). Those released from Brixton were greeted by Arrest Watch supporters who helped them find where they needed to be late Wednesday night. Everyone is accounted for and got back to a warm, dry bed.
Those arrested were just five of more than 35 people and counting from Chelmsford who have turned up to the Rebellion in London over the first three days. The Extinction Rebellion Chelmsford group started in February with just 4 people. [Statements available here: http://xrchelmsford.org/international-rebellion-the-beginning]
Meanwhile the Rebellion continues, more than 1200 arrests globally so far.
Quotes from some of arrestees:
Ellie Butcher, 24, cleaner and dog walker and activist, said: “I believe it was a worthwhile sacrifice to make to take a stand about the emergency situation we are in. The usual societal ‘negative’ ramifications to being arrested, to my mind, just don’t apply when the alternative (not doing anything) means I won’t, as a young person, have a ‘normal’ future anyway.”
Sarah Greenfield Clark, 36, sustainability advisor & mother, said: “The data terrifies me; it compels me to put it above all other priorities. And other things I’d much rather be doing. I feel as a mum I have a responsibility to do everything I can to avert this crisis and change the current trajectory we’re on, which is mass extinction and crop failure; I worry how I’m going to feed my children in the future. So I’ve been arrested, because I’m scared. And I want you to be scared too and I want you to be courageous too.”
For Sarah’s full statement: https://youtu.be/w3MEJjLmj38
Chris, 32, said: “I can’t face being asked by my children, my grandchildren, or any child, why once I became fully aware of the scale of the problem and accepted it as my own, I stood by and did nothing. I was willing to be arrested as this small sacrifice from me is helping to push for a positive change now and for future generations that will inherit our actions from today.”
Stephen Day said: “I believe in what XR are doing and being 60 odd years of age care what sort of world I pass on to the next generation.”
Sophia Cheng, 32, business owner & birth-striker, said: “I was afraid but very clear on why I was doing this. I don’t like breaking the rules, but more than three environment defenders are killed every week  and I’ve had the personal privilege to work alongside many indigenous activists; risking my liberty to raise the climate crisis alarm here in the UK, where I know I will be treated well is in many ways the least I could do. I was emboldened by April’s Rebellion and speaking to people who had also been arrested. To be locked on with a fellow rebel from Chelmsford, in fact surrounded by support from Chelmsford and having 5 of us all willing to be arrested was very powerful. Courage is infectious.”
Sophia attempted her first stand-up comedy gig a few weeks ago. She attended a Sustainable Stand-up Comedy course recently to help build her confidence in how she talks about climate change. Her set is about why she joined XR, life as a newbie activist and possibly getting arrested… https://youtu.be/KMEeJuFH7qc
2: Guardian – Limiting warming to 1.5C is possible – if there is political will https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/08/limiting-warming-to-15c-is-possible-if-there-is-political-will-climate-change
4: Global Witness report – July 2019 SPOTLIGHT ON CRIMINALISATION OF LAND AND ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENDERS – https://www.globalwitness.org/en/press-releases/spotlight-criminalisation-land-and-environmental-defenders/
Notes to editors:
Some of the arrestees are available for interview.
Contact 07417 528774