There was some suprisingly positive MSM coverage on the weekend leading into today’s Extinction Rebellion actions in Wellington. Extinction Rebellion NZ starts off an international week of climate rebellion designed to encourage governments to act in meaningful terms on the climate crisis.
She was born on the brink of World War II and lived through the threat of communism then the violence of the Springbok apartheid protests.
But it is now, aged 80, that Mary Rose is putting her stake in the ground as one of the lead protesters, as climate action group Extinction Rebellion try to blockade part of Wellington on Monday.
“I have been listening to people talking about climate change for the past 25 years – people of vision and wisdom,” the great-grandmother and Quaker said.
“There is all this feeling helpless, what can we do.”
Police and local authorities on the face of it seem largely accepting of the intended disruption and are planning accordingly,
A police spokesperson said police were “aware of protest activity planned”, but for “operational reasons” would not provide details on staff resourcing.
Police intended to ensure safety and “uphold the law” while “recognising the lawful right to protest”.
XR spokesperson Dr Sea Rotmann wrote an explanation of XR NZ’s actions at the Spinoff,
Extinction Rebellion does not aim to provide a solution to climate change but to act as a fire alarm. We want to wake up the sleeping inhabitants of our burning home and to draw attention to the pyromaniacs (aka the fossil fuel industry) still busy setting rooms on fire.
Just like the climate strikers, we want to mobilise others to join the rebellion for climate and environmental justice. A rebellion we know has been fought for centuries by generations before us with many different voices, especially those of indigenous activists, which we must listen to now. Too many of us did not listen soon enough, and we have spent too long hoping that these problems would just go away or that “someone” would fix it. We have been complacent, and now it is almost too late.
XR started in the UK a year ago with a series of non-violent direct actions that shut down important parts of central London and other UK cities in October and then again in April. Building on many other, longstanding climate action movements XR was instrumental in taking climate action to a new level. Coinciding with the release of an IPCC report that finally told the bald truth, the rise of Extinction Rebellion forced awareness of the seriousness of the emergency into the public consciousness.
Tortoise Media in the UK published a report last week on the April actions with a focus on who the protestors are and why their arrests are important.
The court waiting rooms fill up every Friday, but the authorities are only a fraction of the way through processing the 1,076 climate activists arrested during Extinction Rebellion’s April shutdown.
Those who plead guilty are given a chance to make a speech. On a swelteringly hot August afternoon, Tim Ponton, 68, a retired NHS specialist in prosthetics, stood up. “I feel desperate. I feel outraged that successive governments have failed to protect me and my family,” he told the court.
There’s a cool interactive map not too far down the page that shows how the April actions played out over the fortnight and the London landscape.
For a week-and-a-half, XR’s rebels took control of five high-profile spaces in the capital: Oxford Circus, Marble Arch, Waterloo Bridge, Piccadilly Circus, and Parliament Square.
They held the sites in style. It took police five days to tow away a fuchsia pink boat named ‘Berta Cáceres’ after the murdered Honduran environmentalist. Activists had docked the boat, daubed with the words “tell the truth”, in the middle of Oxford Circus junction. As the mast was dismantled and the boat finally removed, the crowd chanted: “we have more boats.” Elsewhere, a half-pipe adorned with XR logos turned Waterloo Bridge into a temporary skate park.
Stretches of central London were essentially pedestrianised by blockades. More than 50 bus routes were diverted, affecting the journeys of half a million passengers. The West End shopping district lost an estimated £12 million in the first three days of the action, according to Jace Tyrell, who represents businesses in the area. Stores on Oxford Street, London’s flagship shopping district, reported falls in sales of up to 20 per cent. The police force deployed more than 10,000 officers to the streets of London – in an operation which cost more than £16 million and 243,000 hours of officer overtime. It was the largest police operation in modern British history.
In case it’s not clear, the objective here is to cause as much disruption to the state as possible until it changes. Affecting the consumer economy, sustained tying up of the courts and eating into the police budget, along with regular disruptions to the normal business of city life, are potent motivators for change. Key to XR’s strategy is the research that shows sustained actions from 3.5% of a nation’s population have never failed to effect radical change.
Ten days ago 3.5% of the NZ population took to the streets in the climate strike.
Extinction Rebellion have three key demands,
1. tell the truth about the climate and ecological emergencies
2. take real action now
3. create a citizens’ assembly
XR are not presenting a complex, detailed plan of what we should do. That’s for our governments. What XR are doing is pushing governments to do their job properly in regards to CC and ecology. They’re also saying that in that process we should shift to more participatory democracy rather than relying on simple representative democracy (which patently isn’t working and isn’t suitable to the task at hand given the timeframes).
Kia kaha XR in Wellington today.
Updated: Live coverage,