Protests are planned across the UK by Extinction Rebellion over the bank holiday weekend, targeting airports, blocking roads and supply chains.
The environmental protest group looks to start a new programme of climate change demonstrations after taking a backseat during the coronavirus lockdown.
On Friday, XR is planning to begin a “regional rebellion” over 4 days with protests in London, Manchester, Bristol, Cardiff and Leeds.
Protesters are being encouraged to take action locally due to current strains on the general supply chain and transport networks/sectors. The aviation sector, banks, the fossil fuel industry and petrol stations have apparently been designated as targets.
The protests are being carried out before larger-scale demonstrations planned for London, Manchester and Cardiff will start on September 1st.
Protests this weekend are expected to consist of roadblocks, marches, sit-ins, bike rides and picnics (how terrifying), with campaigners reaffirming their ethos of “non-violent direct action”.
Supporters of XR will also be encouraged to protest on line, and urged to contact and phone their MPs and “institutions of power”.
Anneka Sutcliffe, from XR Actions, confirmed that a “few thousand” people had said on Facebook that they would join in the London events, but numbers were expected to be lower.
Marches will start from Tate Britain, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Cathedral and Smithfield Market.
There will be a roadblock on Prince Street Bridge in Bristol, a large bike ride from Brighton to London, banner drops and rallies against the expansion of Luton Airport and the aviation industry at Gatwick Airport.
Chris Newman, a GP supporter of XR, said on Thursday that they were aware of the health risks of public gatherings and had cancelled previous protest plans in response to that.
“Everyone in XR that I’ve spoken to is extremely mindful of the risks and we’re all concerned about health risks. That’s why we’re here, because climate change is a health issue as much as anything,” he said.
“So everyone will be pushing very hard for all XR participants to be obeying Government rules with social distancing, with them avoiding protests if they’re unwell, or if they have to isolate.”
Clare Farrell, a co-founder of the XR movement, said the Covid-19 crisis “has shown us that things can change very, very rapidly when people realise that there is an existential threat to human life and if we took climate change as seriously as this pandemic then we are surely capable of making massive changes very, very rapidly”.
The protests will coincide with the Government bringing in large fines for anyone organising gatherings that breach social distancing rules from Friday under Covid rules and regulations.
The Home Office said earlier this month: “Those facilitating or organising illegal raves, unlicensed music events, or any other unlawful gathering of 30 people or more may face a £10,000 fine.”
Paul Stephens, a former police officer who now supports XR, told reporters their group had received a letter from the police outlining the restrictions and potential for fines “unless you are one of the exceptions”.
“The exceptions they list are businesses and charities and they didn’t mention protests, of course in the actual regulations protests are in there,” he said, adding the “empty letter” was a “vague threat” and that XR would be challenging it at a meeting with police on Thursday.
On Wednesday, police said XR co-founder Roger Hallam and four others had been charged with conspiracy to cause criminal damage.
Hallam, 54, of Wandsworth in south-west London, Diana Warner, 61, from Bristol, Ferhat Ulusu, 42, of Hackney in east London, Holly Brentall, 28, of Haringey in north London, and Steven Nunn, 56, of Telford have been remanded in custody ahead of appearing at Wood Green Crown court next month. It’s incredible that these people are now in jail awaiting court.
An XR spokeswoman said four of the five, apart from Nunn, were connected to the group.
Do we really need this? With Covid, the coming recession and so on, do we really need such disruption from middle class yuppies that cry about our planet, but then get in their dads Range Rover to go home to their middle class house in London? Outcast.Media will be approaching some people with contradicting theories on climate change. The science certainly isn’t settled.