international rebellion highlight reel
To sign off from South East Movement we've put together a little diary of the past 2 weeks.
It's been inspiring, emotional, at times frustrating, but overall entirely beautiful. Coming home is extremely tough, especially for those whose families & friends aren't supportive. Remember the rebellion spirit, the sense of community, and that there's a ton of South East rebels who love you.
It's been an epic 12 days. Sorry for anything we've missed. Cannot stress enough how proud everyone should be of themselves. Some absolutely incredible things happened. So many times we hit a low and all of a sudden something miraculous happened to turn the situation around. It always seems like coincidence. But then you remember how many amazing, inspiring people there are in this movement, doing amazing, inspiring things, and you realise it's not coincidence at all.
It's just the Rebellion 💚💚💚
DAY 1 : Site Take!
At 9:30am, Monday 7th October, we took Whitehall despite enormous police presence. During the planning we weren't sure it would be possible, but the symbolism of the site as the heart of a Government which is refusing to act on climate breakdown made it worth the risk.
We always knew it was going to be a battle. This proved highly accurate, with a childish and egocentric administration more concerned about the embarrassment that us holding Whitehall presented than the disruption to the public at other Rebellion sites that were busy thoroughfares.
In spite of this, we brought the XR vibe to Whitehall, and joined only a handful of people who have managed to set up camp outside Downing Street.
SE samba leads the site take celebration
DAY 2: 'If you build it....they will smash it up'.
After an ill-fated experiment with gazebos on Monday, we managed to grab a window of opportunity on Tuesday and built a little world. For a few glorious hours in the sunshine we had a thriving village with all the beauty and inspiration that the people of XR bring to the movement.
Sadly, not everyone shared our sentiments. As the police line advanced, the heavens opened and the police smashed our site apart in a dramatic and disproportionate response.
With several hundred people sat resiliently on the front line - and a moving appearance from the Red Rebels who stood in defiance of the police - their progress was slow. Rebels were not prepared to give up the site easily, and if we were going down we were certainly going to make sure we made some noise doing it. The government might be silent on the true scale of the climate & ecological crisis, but we will not sit by quietly whilst global governments drag all life on earth toward the edge of oblivion.
Wall of resistance
Around 100 SE rebels were arrested and the site looked set to fall...until at around 10pm when, with a huge injection of energy, drummers brought about 200 people down Whitehall - just as the police ran out of cell space.
About 25 arrestables stayed locked on or huddled under blankets right through the night, in what was peak display of XR character. Cannot give all those who stayed out all night (and everyone who stayed up looking after them) enough love or thanks
Supporting the arrestees at 1am Weds morning
Spot the extra lock on tent by 2am 🤣
DAY 3: Whitehall Falls
The start of day 3 was some of the most emotional scenes of the entire two weeks as the all-night rebels began to be arrested.
As they were de-glued, cut out, and carried away, people heard Whitehall still stood and began to return. From the brink of defeat the site was suddenly thriving and by midday more people were locked on, singing songs and holding firm.The police moved in and once again it looked like the site would fall, until the police inexplicably led about 1000 rebels from another site right to us!
some chuffed rebels after coaxing in our new friends
About 800 left under pressure from the police, but the 200 that stayed gave us another massive boost. The outcomes of this type of event rarely proved important - what mattered was the vital burst of energy they gave us. A peoples' assembly on whether to relinquish the site with a closing ceremony, or remain to support those arrestables who wanted to hold out, went back and forth until breaking out into spontaneous song and dance and the decision made itself - stay and celebrate our 3 day hold of Whitehall until the last arrestable was taken.
(I was too caught up in the moment to video this, if anyone did PLEASE email it to firstname.lastname@example.org)
DAY 4: Not so restful day of rest
Thursday was billed as a day of rest for those who needed it, alongside an action at City Airport.
About 100 rebels went to City to demonstrate against airport expansion whilst highlighting the disproportionate role that the elites play in climate breakdown. Around 50 rebels were arrested, including one who glued himself to the top of a plane!
SE rebel lead away from City Airport....that's K-E-N...
Meanwhile the South East set up camp in the apparent 'safe haven' of St James' Park. No sooner had we built a village than the police began tearing through the park destroying tents & arresting people...for camping.
The other regions filtered out in orderly fashion toward Vauxhall, but not the South East! We left loud and proud, led by our samba band & some great stewarding with an amazing 2 hour march through central London at rush hour.
This must be London's largest ever disruption at the insistence of the police 🤣🤣 and running into the rebel riders really capped it off
DAY 5: Canopy Capers, Oil Barrels, and Greenwashing
One rebel made an early start to paint the front of the BP building green to highlight the company's greenwashing and their consistent moves to block climate mitigation laws whilst pumping billions into further fossil fuel expansion, all the while claiming to be greening up their business.
Some rebels took a rest day at Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, helping to set up the site, whilst those hungry for action went to highlight the BBC's silence on the climate crisis. This has in recent years included hosting climate change deniers without allowing rebuttal from the science community.
extinction rebellion protest at the bbc
Later in the afternoon rebels shut down the Climate Criminal Conference at Liverpool Street. An oil barrel lock-on left police scratching their heads, taking several hours to get it cleared.
DAY 6: Extinction March
The Rebellion's largest day of mass action saw 2 marches which met up and joined together. The Trade Unionists 'Solidarity With XR' march set off from Trafalgar Square, and parted in a guard of honour to allow through the Extinction March.
Hundreds of Trade Unionists marched in solidarity with Extinction Rebellion
The official count for the day was 30,000 rebels involved in the marches!
The creativity, tone, and poignancy of the funeral march was incredibly moving. A quick scan of the crowd showed visibly moved rebels, with the imagery bringing to the surface the emotions and fear that we struggle with when we understand the scale of the crisis we face.
DAY 7: The day decency died
Middle Sunday saw police carrying disabled rebels off under arrest, for protesting against the way other disabled activists had been treated over the course of the week. We'd seen disabled toilets confiscated, chairs thrown on rubbish piles, and disabled rebels picked off for arrest before other rebels.
That evening several SE rebels ran to a distress call in Trafalgar Square as the iconic site began to fall. They did a great job of clearing up and reinforcing.
Police seize disabled activists wheelchairs
DAY 8: Banking On Breakdown
The second week began with a beautiful action at Bank junction. About 1000 rebels held the roundabout over the course of morning and evening rush hour with a peaceful sit-in. There were around 100 arrests.
Within hours of Extinction Rebellion shutting down this crucial junction in the financial district, the MET issued a blanket ban on all peaceful protest across London, and swiftly shut down TS. This is a clear sign of how the government has deserted the people under the pressure of corporate power.
The City of London continues to be complicit in driving climate breakdown and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocents in the Global South. The unchecked power that the finance industry (which has destroyed the country once already this century) holds should only further our resolve to strike at the heart of an economic system which supports child poverty, racial inequality, and the deaths of people forced to sleep on the streets, even in a country as rich as the UK.
DAY 9: Peaceful Protest Becomes Illegal
Tuesday was a weird one with the police continuing to overstep their powers. They cleared structures from the Tate's private land, forced the clearout of VPG without the council's say so, and arrested people without warning, sometimes for nothing more than wearing XR symbols!
One rebel was arrested in a taxi on 'suspicion to commit conspiracy to cause a public nuisance'! Worrying times. But equally, these panic steps by the police - under pressure from the Government - were a real measure of the strength of our gains over the previous week.
The police made some terrible judgement calls over the two weeks, none more so than denying people the right to free speech or the curtailment of protest right. But while each of these blunders may be a pain for us, they encourage more people to join us in outrage at their behaviour - which is exactly what happened. That night a conference of MEPs ran out of a meeting and to Trafalgar Square to protest in solidarity with XR, and against the blanket ban on peaceful protest across the capital, culminating with about 1000 people back where it all started singing outside Downing Street.
DAY 10: Media Day
Midweek actions saw XR youth at YouTube, and a focus on Murdoch's NewsCorp down at the Shard.
The solidarity from many corners continued with non-rebels coming out in support against the blanket ban on protesting. Around 2000 people turned out in Trafalgar Square, which turned into an impromptu road block at the junction with Whitehall. George Monbiot and Jonathon Bartley, co-leader of the Greens, were arrested in demonstration at the curtailing of our basic rights to peaceful protest.
spot the south east rebels!!💚
DAY 11: The Low Point
We woke up to a bit of a shit storm after the Tube action. The purpose of this action was to demonstrate the fragility of the network under sea level rise. Violence erupted. A lot of rebels were left frustrated that their concerns over the action proposal had been entirely ignored.
One thing that was clearly highlighted is the fine thread that civil society hangs on. A bit of disruption is nothing compared to what awaits us if we don't act immediately, yet mob rule broke out simply at a demonstration of those risks, let alone the real thing.
Many rebels were disheartened, and understandably so. We had generated so much goodwill over the previous couple of days, and much of it was lost by the actions of a handful of people. But these setbacks should remind us why what we are doing is so crucial. The inevitable outcome of shortage of resources, overcrowding, and mass disruption, is unavoidable conflict. Our window to act co-operatively is closing. If it shuts there is a real risk of it becoming 'everyone for themselves', and an increased likelihood of a dystopian, eco-facist future.
Rather than let these setbacks split us, we must use them to learn, and to rally together. We have a serious problem with getting our message to those communities who would most benefit from the changes we are trying to deliver. This needs much reflection, and a re-alignment of how we picture ourselves and our ability to engage the communities at greatest risk from both the status quo and climate breakdown.
The day closed on a much more positive note, with a mass meditation of about 500 people in Trafalgar Square, and an amazing critical mass bike swarm! The public reaction was really positive (especially thanks to Keenan & the rickshaw) and we clawed back a little of the goodwill lost that morning.
picadilly on a beautiful thursday night
FINAL DAY: The Beacon!!
FINALLY it went up. And it was a thing of beauty. The Beacon was erected in Oxford Circus. A symbol of danger, but also of hope and safety in a time of extreme threat.
There were a few isolated incidents with members of the public given Thursday's happenings, which as always the de-escalators handled amazingly, but after a while all was calm and there was some great outreach going on.
We're not going to bring everyone with us. We don't need to. Things will get worse before they get better. But the face to face engagement over the last couple of weeks has been overwhelmingly positive and productive, and it's hugely important we take the lesson back to our local groups that social media and leaflets are useful, but the key to movement growth is human interaction.
It's using your passion & knowledge to find that personal hook for every individual, that then allows them to understand the truth of the threat we face. We are setting in motion a wave of change that can't be stopped. We have to expect kickback from powerful establishments. We have to expect it to not all be rainbows and waterloo bridges. And we have to start thinking about how to be creative and be on the front foot when April rolls around.
bring out the cherry picker
Also, this happened...at some point...I think??
As a final point, we were kept fuelled by the tireless work of the Hare Krishnas over the whole 2 weeks. Whilst they happily nourish us, their projects are meant for the homeless and those in food poverty. That is not us. We choose to put ourselves in that position. So please click here & donate what you can to show them how much we appreciate not just what they do for the Rebellion but for those kept down by this greedy and inhuman system that we desperately need to smash.
Love, Rage, Rebel For ALL Life.