By Extinction Rebellion
October 20, 2019
It’s difficult to imagine the number of rebels currently feeling exhausted, disorientated, and proud.
Though we know it’s not over for everyone, this week saw the conclusion of high-intensity rebellion phases in Paris, Berlin, New York, London, and countless other cities and nations. A truly inspiring number of those involved are new to the experience of Rebellion – small surprise, since there’s very little like it.
The most obvious exertions are physical: long days spent roaming streets or (every bit as vital!) glued to screens, sometimes eating and sleeping irregularly. But no less taxing is the emotional journey: through euphoric highs and difficult lows, made both easier and more complicated for being shared by a whole community of other people who feel it all together, and process this journey in different ways.
And when all of this comes to a close, it can be a challenge to adjust: to return to work, family, a slower pace of life. All the more so given the nature of our cause: some might be troubled by the thought that our emergency is only speeding up as we slow down.
This makes it all the more essential that we do slow down: that we take the time to regenerate.
‘Burn-out’ is a major risk in movements such as ours, where our hearts can demand more selfless action at the cost of our own individual well-being. It’s for this reason that regeneration is our third core value; and it’s for similar reasons that our fifth value is to follow cycles of action with reflection and learning.
We’ve achieved an incredible amount in the past two weeks: political changes, deeper cultural shifts, and proving to ourselves that this movement is well-organised, global, and unified by the same compassionate values.
Given how much we’ve achieved, it’s small wonder if we don’t yet have the energy to fathom it.
For now, all we need to know is that it’s the time for some well-deserved rest.
If you’d like to see previous newsletter issues, you can find them here.
As we enter this crucial phase in human history, our Rebellion will need money to make sure our message is heard. Anything you can give is appreciated.
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London is caught red-handed
16-18 OCT | London, England
Rebels gathered in Trafalgar Square for a ceremony to mark the end of a heroic twelve days of rebellion and our transition back to our homes. The ceremony celebrated all that we have experienced and achieved so far and looked ahead to the next wave of local-based actions across the UK.
Earlier in the day, several thousand rebels came together to take our message to UK government departments one last time in the powerful ‘Red Handed’ march.
Inverse red hand outlines (easily washable) were sprayed onto the entrances on departments in a message that they have been caught red-handed in their criminal inaction on the Emergency. Rebels chalk-sprayed their own palms red to express that we are all complicit in climate injustice because of the toxic, ecocidal system we participate in.
At the end of the march, some red-handed rebels lined up outside a police station to turn themselves in, caught red-handed in the act of trying to protect their future. However, the police closed the shutters and refused to make arrests.
XR Educators will be returning to the Department of Education on Monday to demand that the national curriculum change to properly inform young people on the crisis they face.
On Thursday, rebels stood on top of trains at rush hour in a controversial attempt to draw attention to the crisis, but were pulled off by angry commuters. Read more about how it happened here. Though upset by these events, rebels in London decided to keep moving forwards and finish what they started on their own terms and on a more positive, joyful note.
Oxford Circus was blocked by rebels who climbed and locked onto large tripod structures made of bamboo. They formed an impressive sight and were a challenge for the police to take down!
At the end of the working day, 2000 rebel professionals descended on Trafalgar Square to show that XR cannot be discredited as a movement of jobless ‘hippies’. Many turned up in their uniforms – doctors, nurses, chefs, scientists, or simply business suits – and held signs with their job title in a firm display of XR’s professional diversity. The threat we face is real and people from all sectors and career paths are choosing to rebel.
On Wednesday, thousands of rebels bravely defied the police ban on XR actions and assembly in London by turning out in force to Trafalgar Square for a 1500-strong People’s Assembly. This is what democracy looks like.
The primary outcomes of the assembly were that XR should be inclusive of everyone, that we focus our actions on the powerful and not disrupt for the sake of it, and importantly that we keep going bigger and louder, despite bans and attempts to silence us. Inspiring.
Highlights from Wednesday also include 150 mothers sitting outside Google UK, many breastfeeding their babies, and XR Youth climbing onto the doorway of Youtube in a day that demanded better from our online media platforms. There were many moving moments, tears of grief and fear, and beautiful bursts of song.
Research shows that young people in particular are overwhelmingly educating themselves using online articles and videos that are curated by Google and Youtube. These platforms need to take responsibility for their role in this emergency and stop funding and amplifying sensational content from climate sceptics and deniers.
Huge well done and a heartfelt thank you to all the rebels who came to London to make this fortnight of Rebellion so special. It was very different from April, but our second album was never going to be easy!
Check out the London newsletter for a fuller update on the last days of the London Rebellion and for more photos of these amazing actions.
School kids on the march for climate action in Gambia
17 OCT | Banjul, Gambia
A hundred school children hit the streets of Banjul to call for action on the climate and ecological emergency.
Young women lead the march, supported by National Scout Band and dozens of students carrying homemade placards. “We will not be bystanders,” they sang, “for it will only exacerbate our woes. We cannot afford to sit back and watch as the planet perishes.”
Kebba Jagne, of Climate Save Gambia, explained: “This is not something that is common in the Gambia, considering we have not been living in democratic dispensation, but with the coming of a new government there is more security for people to voice what they think”.
“The turnout was incredible, people responded to our call, and came out in numbers. We are sensitising them to effects of climate change, that climate change is real, and that everyone has a role to play to mitigate climate change. In the Gambia, people have limited access to the internet and so many are not aware… and government is doing little to confront the crisis.”
Kebba was inspired to act on the crisis when studying agriculture, after he learned how climate and ecological breakdown is exacerbating crop failure and food insecurity.
The action was covered by the BBC: listen to an interview with activist, Sainey Gibba here.
18 OCT | Ottawa, Canada
Ottawan rebels gave their famous Laurier Bridge some extra love today, blocking it from its heavy polluting traffic. The green steel arches that normally carry four lanes of traffic over the Rideau canal, only held up green transport today.
A determined band of around 100 rebels ensured that only pedestrians, cyclists, skateboarders and wheelchairs could cross. A beautiful image of a future to come.
The warm and peaceful gathering aimed to hold the bridge for up to 12 hours to highlight, as one rebel describes it in this video, ‘the urgency of this emergency’.
With the police also in amicable mood, no arrests were made, and rebels provided live music, homemade vegan curry and lots of art. They showed the city the kind of inclusive, healthy and emissions-free world that we so urgently need and deserve.
Rebels lit candles to remember the brave earth defenders who have lost their lives to this fight, as three activists were killed a week in 2018.
Dear Jacinda: New Zealand writes
14 OCT | Aotearoa, New Zealand
After an eventful week of intense highs and challenging lows, XR New Zealand has slowed its protests and entered a phase of healing and reflection for all involved. But, the rebellion never truly sleeps, and yesterday they published an open letter to their prime minister Jacinda Arden in response to her criticism of Extinction Rebellion.
The letter eloquently outlines the demands of XR, while criticizing the failure of the Government to act appropriately in order to prevent climate and ecological loss.
“We will take whatever non-violent action is necessary to protect our future. Monday was just the beginning and we are willing to suffer the consequences of further action.”
Sometimes you have to get burnt to pull someone out of a fire. But it will be worth it.
Toxic Air in Chennai
17 OCT | Chennai, India
Last week saw rebels popping up and kicking off the International Rebellion in Chennai. They started with a die-in on the beach to build local awareness.
Thursday they were back in action, disrupting the streets with a powerful ‘Save your Oxygen’ march. Rebels marched with symbolic clean oxygen tanks and masks. By envisioning this dystopian future, they sparked a debate about how toxic the air we breathe is and how many are affected by it.
Palestine: ecological breakdown meets experienced resisters
18 OCT | Umm al Khair, West Bank
These Bedouin children from the West Bank village of Umm al Khair have one of the lowest carbon footprints on earth, yet they are among those who will suffer the most from ecological breakdown.
Palestinians will be amongst those hardest hit by the crisis. This environmental inequality is further compounded by a political one, as Palestinian access to water is restricted and much of their wells and infrastructure have been destroyed. With droughts and desertification likely to hit the region, life is made especially hard.
In Umm al Khair, most of the village’s water supply has been stolen by the neighbouring settlement of Carmel (seen in the background), leaving the area’s Bedouins with an average of just 15 litres of water per day.
Community activist and Umm al Khair resident Awdah Hathaleen said: “They control the water network, and they only allow the people of Umm Al-khair to get a little water. More than 5000 plants of thyme died this year because of the water problems… They don’t have mercy for the human; how they will be merciful with the environment?”
Three generations of Tasmanians unite in protest
17 OCT | Tasmania, Australia
Over 20 courageous rebels were arrested in Nipaluna/Hobart on Thursday afternoon after blocking the vehicular exits from Parliament House. Rebels aimed to block politicians in their offices until they act on the climate and ecological emergency.
Those protesting included students, teachers, doctors, health professionals and retirees. With ages ranging from 17 to 79, they represented three generations of Tasmanians standing up for their futures, for the futures of their children and grandchildren, and for all life on Earth.
Memories and reflections from a Spanish rebel
14 OCT | Somewhere in Spain
“Like many other rebels, I’m on my way back, on a train heading home.
The journey is lulling me slowly in a quiet and calm state of mind, but the dull pain in my neck serves as a reminder of our forceful eviction from the bridge, just a few days ago. My thoughts flicker back to the rebellion…
It is early morning and we’re walking from our sleeping place to our meeting point before the action. I can feel everyone’s apprehension while we cross the dark and silent streets of Madrid. Some of us are talking to each other to release the tension, I feel instead that I need a quiet space to focus a bit and prepare. So, I’m the last one following my affinity group. I can see everyone in front of me, walking steadily. I can see courage and beauty in them.
I met most of them just the day before and I’m already feeling extremely proud of being part of this group.
Time feels still and the waiting seems endless for the next couple of hours.
With no apparent sign we are suddenly running towards the action. Hundreds of people are swarming around a pink boat and it seems like ordered chaos is taking place. People shout to call for help while others start chanting. I’m sitting in the frontline and the bright morning sun hits my face so that I can barely look down at the road in front of me.
I know that the police might appear any moment from this side to evict us. A lingering fear grows not knowing what might happen. But we’re sitting here all together, and this gives me courage, and I can join everyone else singing: ‘Esta mañana me he despertado para empezar la rebellion!’ (This morning I woke up to start the rebellion!).
A couple of minutes later I can see photographers and the press here in front of me, and in my mind a thought appears “YES, WE MADE IT!”. No matter what happens next.
I know that these intense days are a short sprint within a marathon, that drastic change needs to happen now, but that we also need the resilience to regenerate new energies for the long run.
It is time for reflection, for mending our injuries and our internal conflicts. Is time to look back at how I managed my internal fears and realise that they were nothing more than the result of the violence of a system that wants to avoid change, wants to divide us and control us.
I can clearly feel that the courage to fight these fears grows from our collective connections.
I’m thinking of the comrades of my affinity group. Our solidarity against their repression.
Until the next rebellion…”
This piece was sent to us from a rebel in Spain.
See more of the beautiful and courageous action from the International Rebellion in XR Unchained. There is so much to tell.
Sri Lanka. “When the last tree is cut down, the last fish eaten, and the last stream is poisoned, only then will you realize that you cannot eat money.”
USA. Extinction Rebellion Twin Cities drop banners from the Sabo Bridge in Minneapolis.
Japan. Rebels stage a die-in in Yoyogi Park, Tokyo.
Italy. A rebel in Rome on day 6 of the hunger strike.
Slovakia. Rebels perform a funeral march.
UK. The government departments have been caught red-handed doing nothing about the crisis.
Boston, USA. Boston XR MA’s die-in at the HONK Parade on Sunday alongside MIRA: Massachusetts Immigrant & Refugee Advocacy Coalition, 350 Mass for a Better Future and the Alliance of Cambridge Tenants (ACT).
Brussels. XR speaking on a panel at the European Parliament on the climate and ecological breakdown.
Brussels. Youth For Climate started a sit-in in the European Parliament on Wednesday, and held out for two days until they received assurance of a pro-climate vote by MEPs.
Prague, Czech Republic. Extinction Rebellion CZ danced for the planet in a powerful and moving performance with @AURORAmusic – full performance here
|Discover XR Unchained|
Hamish, 33, Management Consultant
‘I find life knowing about the climate emergency really tough. I think about it all the time. It breaks my heart, especially as I have children. I’ve cried about it and I find it very difficult to deal with to be honest.
I joined Extinction Rebellion because I wanted to take more drastic action on the climate emergency than any other NGOs were taking at the time.
What inspires me the most about XR is the fact that it has grown so incredibly and attracted so many people over 12 months. I’ve discovered that I’m capable of inspiring other people to take action, and that’s very rewarding.’
We are receiving amazing human stories and we want to know yours. To read more – or to write your own – join our Facebook group.
Thank you for reading! Rest now, rebels. Changing the world is hard work.
If you have any questions or queries, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As we enter this crucial phase in human history, our Rebellion will need money to make sure our message is heard. Anything you can give is appreciated.