Timeline of Extinction Rebellion actions

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Extinction Rebellion has taken a variety of actions since 2018 in the UK, USA, Australia and elsewhere.

UK actions[edit]

2018[edit]

On 17 October 2018, activists from Extinction Rebellion held a sit-in at the UK headquarters of Greenpeace, "to encourage their members to participate in mass civil disobedience as the only remaining alternative to avert the worst of the catastrophe" and join in future activities of Extinction Rebellion.[1][2]

'Declaration of Rebellion'[edit]

"Declaration of Rebellion" at the Parliament Square, 31 October 2018

An assembly took place at Parliament Square, London on 31 October 2018, and drew more than a thousand people to hear the "Declaration of Rebellion"[3] against the UK government and speeches by Donnachadh McCarthy, 15-year-old Greta Thunberg, the Swedish schoolgirl "on strike" from school over her own government's climate inaction,[4] Julia Bradbury, and Green MEP Molly Scott Cato in the square.[3] After a motion was proposed and agreed, the assembly moved to occupy the road, where Green MP Caroline Lucas, environmentalist George Monbiot, and other speakers and singers, including Seize the Day, continued from the reclaimed street directly in front of the Houses of Parliament.[3][a] Following this, 15 campaigners were arrested for deliberately continuing the sit-in in the roadway.[3]

In the first two weeks of the movement in November 2018, more than 60 people were arrested for taking part in acts of civil disobedience organised by Extinction Rebellion.[5] On 12 November 2018, activists blockaded the UK's Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and some glued their hands to the department's doors.[6] Activists unveiled a "Climate Change... We're Fucked" banner over Westminster Bridge[7] and glued themselves to the gates of Downing Street, near the Prime Minister's official residence, on 14 November.[8][9] In the evening of 15 November a large group closed the access road to Trafalgar Square outside the Brazilian Embassy in an joint action with Brazilian Women against Fascism UK.[10]

'Rebellion Day'[edit]

"Rebellion Day" on Blackfriars Bridge, 17 November 2018

On 17 November 2018, in what was called "Rebellion Day", about 6,000 people took part in a coordinated action to block the five main bridges over the River Thames in London (Southwark, Blackfriars, Waterloo, Westminster, and Lambeth) for several hours, causing major traffic disruption; 70 arrests were made.[5][11][12][13][14] The Guardian described it as "one of the biggest acts of peaceful civil disobedience in the UK in decades".[5][15] YBA artist Gavin Turk was one of the activists arrested for obstructing the public highway.[16][17] Elsewhere in the UK there was a rally in Belfast,[18] while internationally there were more actions.

Extinction Rebellion protesters in Tower Hill, 23 November 2018

From 21 November 2018, beginning a campaign known as 'swarming' roadblocks (repeated roadblocks of approximately 7 minutes each), small groups of Extinction Rebellion activists carried out protests by occupying road junctions at Lambeth and Vauxhall Bridges, Elephant and Castle, Tower Bridge and Earl's Court, causing serious disruption to rush-hour traffic and continuing throughout the day.[15][19][20][21][22][23] Similar actions continued for the next two days in London,[24] with one group moving to Oxford Street on the afternoon of the discount shopping day Black Friday.[25]

On 23 November, in a first action outside London, an Extinction Rebellion group in York stopped traffic on Coppergate, Clifford Street, Pavement and Ouse Bridge, as well as holding a demo outside West Offices of the City of York Council.[26][27] An Oxford XR group blocked traffic on Botley Road on the same day.[28]

'Rebellion Day 2'[edit]

On "Rebellion Day 2", a week after the first, Extinction Rebellion blocked the roads around Parliament Square, before a mock funeral march to Downing Street and then onto Buckingham Palace.[29] XR co-founder Gail Bradbrook read out a letter to the Queen, and one activist glued herself to the gates of the Palace, before the procession returned to Parliament Square.[30] On 24 November there were actions outside London by XR groups in Manchester,[31] Sheffield,[32] Machynlleth[33] and Edinburgh.[34]

On 15 December 2018, a professor of psychology was arrested for a "climate change graffiti attack" on the Bristol Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) building,[35][36][37] and a "die-in" was held at a local shopping center.[38]

On 21 December 2018, actions were staged at BBC locations across the UK by Extinction Rebellion calling for a change in editorial policy, perceiving a "failure to report" on the "climate emergency." BBC headquarters in London was placed on lockdown.[39][40][41]

2019[edit]

January – council actions[edit]

On 25 January 2019, about 40 members of Extinction Rebellion staged a peaceful one-hour occupation of the Scottish Parliament's debating chamber in Holyrood, Edinburgh.[42] Council chambers were also occupied by XR groups in Norwich on 11 February,[43] and Gloucestershire, on 13 February, which included a mock trial of the council's "criminal negligence".[44]

February – London Fashion Week[edit]

An Extinction Rebellion march during the London Fashion Week in London, 22 February 2019

During London Fashion Week in February, Extinction Rebellion organised actions to disrupt events, calling on the British Fashion Council organisers to declare a 'climate emergency' and for the industry to take a leading role in tackling climate change.[45] 'Swarming' roadblocks were held outside several venues; a couple of rebels wore living grass coats.[46] Later in the week, designer and XR co-founder Clare Farrell, was barred from a fashion show by a label in which she had been involved with production.[47]

March[edit]

Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of the Portsmouth City Council, joining in an Extinction Rebellion protest in Portsmouth, 19 March 2019

On 9 March 2019, around 400 protesters staged a "Blood of Our Children" demonstration outside Downing Street, in which they poured buckets of fake blood on the road to represent the threatened lives of children.[48] As Portsmouth City Council passed a climate emergency motion, the 49th in the UK, protestors confronted leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson outside Portsmouth Guildhall.[49]

April – House of Commons naked demonstration[edit]

On 1 April 2019, around 12 protesters were arrested after undressing and gluing themselves to the glass in the House of Commons viewing gallery during a debate on Britain's intended departure from the European Union, with two of the protesters wearing grey body paint and elephant masks to draw attention to "the elephant in the room".[50] XR activists attributed inspiration for the direct action to a suffragette protest in Parliament in 1909, when (non-nude) protesters chained themselves to statues.[51]

April – occupations in London[edit]

The pink boat with a slogan "tell the truth", named after Berta Caceres, was located in Oxford Circus on 18 April

Starting from Monday 15 April 2019, Extinction Rebellion organised demonstrations in London, focusing their attention on Oxford Circus, Marble Arch, Waterloo Bridge and the area around Parliament Square.[52] Activists fixed a pink boat named after murdered Honduran environmental activist Berta Cáceres in the middle of the busy intersection of Oxford Street and Regent Street (Oxford Circus) and glued themselves to it,[53][54] and also set up several gazebos, potted plants and trees, a mobile stage and a skate ramp whilst also occupying Waterloo Bridge.[55][56] Five activists, including XR co-founder Simon Bramwell, were arrested for criminal damage when they targeted Shell's headquarters, near Waterloo.[57][55] After the police imposed a 24-hour Section 14 condition at 18:55 requiring activists to move to Marble Arch[58] the police tried to clear Waterloo Bridge arresting 113 people, without gaining control of the bridge.[59][60]

On the second day of actions on Waterloo Bridge police began making arrests of the activists at 12.40 pm,[61] but stopped a few hours later,[62] after running out of holding cells.[63] By the end of Tuesday 16 April an estimated 500,000 people had been affected by the disruptions and 290 activists had been arrested in London.[64] In Scotland, more than 1,000 protesters occupied the North Bridge for seven hours in Edinburgh, bringing one of the main routes into the city centre to a standstill. Police said they made 29 arrests.[65][66]

On the morning of Wednesday 17 April two activists climbed onto the roof of a Docklands Light Railway train at Canary Wharf station whilst another glued himself to the side, spreading disruption to railway services.[67] The following day the three activists were charged with obstructing trains and after pleading not guilty sent to jail for four weeks, with no bail, whilst awaiting their next hearing.[68] In response to the protests, the British Transport Police suspended access to public Wi-Fi at London Underground stations the same day.[69][70][71] Towards the end of Wednesday a large force of police marched on the camp at Parliament Square, arresting people and partially removing roadblocks[72] before it was retaken later the same night by protesters who arrived with a samba band and re-established the roadblocks.[73]

At the start of Thursday 18 April, the fourth day of continuous occupations at four locations, the arrest figure had risen to 428, the majority for breaching public order laws and obstructing a highway.[53][74] During the morning of 18 April about 20 XR activists spread traffic disruption wider with a series of swarming (short duration) roadblocks on Vauxhall Bridge.[75]

A mural appeared at Marble Arch after the closing ceremony on 25 April and this was attributed to the artist Banksy.[76][77] The slogan "From this moment despair ends and tactics begin" is a quotation from The Revolution of Everyday Life.[78]

On the morning of 19 April, after significant media speculation about a threat to Heathrow Airport,[79][80][81] around a dozen teenagers, some aged 13 and 14, approached the access road holding a banner which read “Are we the last generation?” Some of the teenagers wept and hugged each other, as they were surrounded by a far larger squad of police.[54][82][83] In the middle of the day police moved in force to surround the pink boat as Emma Thompson read poetry from the deck, eventually removing the people who were either locked-on or glued to it. After seven hours police had moved the boat without clearing Oxford Circus.[53][84] By late evening police said that 682 people had thus far been arrested in London.[54]

On 25 April thirteen protesters blockaded the London Stock Exchange by gluing themselves across its entrances, wearing LED signs. Despite this, the operation of the market was not affected.[85] Another 4 protesters climbed on to a Docklands Light Railway train at Canary Wharf, and held the banners, which resulted in a short delay between Bank and Monument station and Stratford/Lewisham station. 26 people were arrested.[85] In the afternoon, the activists gathered at Hyde Park as the "closing ceremony" of the movement, which ended the 11-day demonstrations in London. A total of 1,130 people were arrested during the demonstrations.[86] As of June 2019, one protester, Angie Zelter, has been convicted of a public order offence for taking part in the occupations.[87]

July – "Summer Uprising"[edit]

"Summer Uprising", blocking Bristol Bridge on 16 July 2019

On 13 and 14 July a weekend of protest was held in East London, with a series of seven-minute Dalston traffic blockades, a mass bike ride through the A10, Olympic park traffic blocks, a people's assembly outside Hackney town hall, and all-day talks and panels in London Fields.[88] This was the predecessor to a "Summer Uprising" from 08:00 on 15 July to 11:00 on 20 July, in Bristol, Leeds, Cardiff, Glasgow and London. Protests in the different cities focused on different threats: rising sea levels, floods, wildfires, crop failures and extreme weather, with a different coloured boat marked "Act Now" and other messages in each location.[89] There was significant disruption to traffic in protest locations.[90]

September – London Fashion Week[edit]

Extinction Rebellion targeted London Fashion Week (LFW) in September 2019 with a number of actions in order to raise awareness about the environmental damage caused by the fashion industry—"the United Nations has said it uses more energy than the aviation and shipping industry combined".[91] XR held a die-in outside LFW's official venue on 13 September.[92][93] On 15 September it targeted Victoria Beckham's show with a swarm and protestors holding placards.[94] On 17 September, about 200 people held a funeral march from Trafalgar Square to a H&M store and to an LFW venue on The Strand;[91][95][96] and people gave speeches about the unsustainability of the fashion industry and fast fashion.[97]

September – Port of Dover blockade[edit]

The protesters blocked the Bristol Bridge on 21 September 2019

On 21 September Extinction Rebellion Dover tried to blockade the Port of Dover by holding a legal protest on the westbound carriageway of the A20, which police had temporarily designated for that purpose.[98] Vehicles were diverted onto the A2, but activists also superglued themselves to that road, blocking traffic in one direction.[99] Giant banners were hung from Dover Castle and from the White Cliffs of Dover.[100] The "No Food on a Dying Planet" action, which was concerned with the potential for food shortages resulting from climate change, was specifically held at Britain's busiest port because of the UK's "dependency" on food imports.[99] Ten, mostly elderly people, were arrested.[100][101]

October[edit]

On 3 October 2019 XR protesters used a fire engine to spray fake blood onto and around HM Treasury in central London.[102][103][104] On 6 October XR held an 'opening ceremony' at Marble Arch attended by more than a thousand demonstrators.[105] On 7 October, several thousand people had blocked locations across Westminster district—135 demonstrators were arrested.[106]

Two days prior to a plan to shut down parts of central London for at least two weeks, police raided a former court building in Lambeth partially being used as a preparation area, arresting ten people and removing solar panels, toilets and other equipment.[107][108] The police were criticised for the use of pre-emptive arrests who countered that Extinction Rebellion were being irresponsible in their action of attempting to overwhelm police resources and that officers were being taken away from their core responsibilities.[109][110]

International Rebellion[edit]

As part of a two-week series of XR actions which they called "International Rebellion",[111] to take place in more than 60 cities worldwide,[112] events were planned around London from 7 to 19 October to demand the UK government take urgent action to tackle the climate crisis.[112][113] Despite much, and sometimes heavy, rain throughout this period, the protests went ahead.[114][115] On 6 October an 'opening ceremony' at Marble Arch was attended by more than a thousand people.[116][105] On 7 October, several thousand people shut down parts of Westminster in central London, blocking Whitehall, the Mall, Westminster Bridge, Lambeth Bridge, Trafalgar Square, Downing Street and Victoria Embankment.[117]

On 10 October at London City Airport, a sit-in was held at the exit of its DLR railway station, with activists supergluing themselves to the floor. Two flights were delayed by activists who had purchased tickets. Other activists climbed onto the terminal roof[118][119] while former paralympian cyclist James Brown climbed atop a British Airways aircraft, livestreaming the event online.[120][121] On 11 October, XR activists obstructed access to the BBC's Broadcasting House main doors.[122][123] Princess Marie-Esméralda of Belgium demonstrated with XR in London in April 2019, and was arrested, and later released, on 10 October after joining a sit-in protest at Trafalgar Square. She said "The more people from all sections of society protest, the greater the impact will be", and that, having the ear of high-ranking people, she raised climate issues whenever possible.[124][125] Over 1000 arrests had been made by 11 October.[126]

On 12 October, XR held a "funeral procession" along Oxford Street which it claimed had 20,000 participants.[127] The same day, animal rights activists of the group Animal Rebellion (affiliated with XR) said 28 of their supporters were arrested while attempting to block access to Billingsgate Fish Market.[128]

Beginning early on Monday 14 October, hundreds of XR activists occupied Bank junction, outside the Bank of England in the City of London, London's financial district, focussing on the financial institutions "funding environmental destruction".[129][130] That night police, controversially, banned all the Extinction Rebellion protests from the whole of London, starting at 9 pm.[131][132] Around the same time, police began clearing people and tents that remained at the camp on Trafalgar Square, cutting free and arresting people who had locked themselves in place;[132] police had until then allowed the Square to be occupied.[132]

XR continued with a protest at the Department for Transport at 8 am on 15 October, during which Gail Bradbrook stood on top of the building's entrance until she was arrested.[133] Bradbrook "called on ministers to explain how their continued expansion of roads and airports fitted with a net-zero emissions target."[133] There was much criticism of the police ban, described as "chilling and unlawful", by individuals and organisations.[134] Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who would normally expect to work with the police, appeared to distance himself from the ban. Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said the ban was a "huge over-reach of police power"; Liberty said it was "a grossly disproportionate move by the Met and an assault on the right to protest".[135] XR applied for urgent judicial review of the ban.[136]

On 16 October, mothers of infants held a sit-in outside Google's London headquarters in King's Cross, in protest at the company's funding of climate deniers.[137] At the same building, XR Youth climbed on top of the entrance to YouTube, with a banner reading "YouTube, stop climate denial",[137] relating to its hosting of climate change denial videos.[137] George Monbiot and Jonathan Bartley were arrested on Whitehall.[138]

On 17 October, XR activists targeted rail and underground services near to the Canary Wharf financial district by climbing onto or gluing themselves to trains at Shadwell, Stratford and Canning Town stations.[139] At Canning Town, a largely working-class neighbourhood, an activist was dragged from the top of a tube train and beaten by angry commuters.[139][140] XR's lack of class and race awareness, and the confused message in blockading public transport, was highlighted by many in the media.[141][142][143][144][145] In a statement, XR apologised;[146] elsewhere, one XR spokesman said the protest was "a huge own goal"[147] while others in XR appreciated the significant media attention that it generated.[148] More than 3,700 people took part in an online poll in advance of the action with 72% against it "no matter how it is done".[148][149][150] In response, some in the affinity groups planning the action pulled out while others continued.[148][149] The group's decentralised structure allows individual groups to act on their own.[147][149]

On the morning of 18 October, the final day of the "International Rebellion", Oxford Circus was blocked using a pyramid structure made of wooden poles, to which some people locked themselves on to and others climbed up.[151][152] Later, a protester free solo climbed halfway up Big Ben using the scaffolding currently surrounding it, and unfurled two large banners, reading: "No pride on a dead planet" and "Citizens Assembly".[153][154]

On 20 October, a protest performance piece was made in the National Portrait Gallery against its sponsorship by BP,[155] who XR claims is "funding extinction".[156] Three protestors lay on the gallery floor wearing only underwear while others poured fake oil over them; a monologue was given and information handed out.[156] The protest was on the final day of the BP Portrait Award exhibition and in a room in which pieces sponsored by BP were on display.[156]

Hunger strike[edit]

Some XR activists took part in a global hunger strike that began on 18 November, involving 526 people in 28 countries, 263 of whom were in the UK. The hunger strike was "intended to show how the climate crisis is already urgently affecting people in many parts of the world."[157] Although most ended their strike around 23/24 November, by 27 November a handful from Extinction Rebellion continued, stationed outside Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat party headquarters in London. Their request was for all political party leaders to agree to meet them and pledge support for XR's Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill.[158]

"Election Rebellion: Twelve Days Of Crisis"[edit]

On 4 December about half a dozen activists dressed in yellow-and-black bee outfits held an action during Liberal Democrats' campaigning for the 2019 UK general election in Streatham, south London. One such activist glued himself to the windscreen of the Liberal Democrats' battle bus.[159][160]

On 9 December activists blockaded a central London road to demand the next government tackles air pollution in London.[161] They wore gas masks and glued their hands to breeze blocks in the middle of Cranbourn Street, outside Leicester Square tube station.[162] Activists also blockaded Great Ancoats Street in Manchester, a major route for commuters, during rush hour with a wooden construction and banners.[162][163]

2020[edit]

On 17 February, Extinction Rebellion members of the University of Cambridge assembled to dig up a patch of lawn outside of Trinity College, as a protest against the College continuing to invest its endowments in oil and gas companies. The mud dug up was later taken to a local branch of Barclays Bank.[164][165]

New York City actions[edit]

On 17 November 2018, in what was called "Rebellion Day", there was a rally in New York City.[18]

On January 26, 2019, the newly formed Extinction Rebellion NYC conducted its first action, with activists forming the Extinction Symbol with their bodies on the ice at the Rockefeller Center ice skating rink. An activist climbed and hung a banner on the large gold Prometheus statue reading "Climate Change = Mass Murder, Rebel for Life, Intl Rebellion Week April 15, 2019". Nine people were arrested.[166]

Die-in protest at New York City Hall, 17 April 2019

On April 17, 2019, over 60 activists were arrested at a die-in in the streets around New York City Hall. Two activists climbed light posts and hung a banner reading "Declare Climate Emergency" along with the Extinction Symbol. In addition to Extinction Rebellion's general demands, a specific demand of the action was that New York City formally declare a climate emergency and call for an emergency mobilization to ensure a safe climate.[167] In this regard, the action was successful, in that on June 26, 2019, the New York City Council unanimously passed Resolution No. 0864–2019, declaring a climate emergency and calling for an emergency mobilization, becoming the first large US city to do so.[168]

On June 22, 2019, 70 activists with Extinction Rebellion NYC were arrested for blocking traffic outside of The New York Times headquarters in midtown Manhattan. Protesters formed the Extinction Symbol with their bodies on Eighth Avenue, rappelled from the roof of the Port Authority Bus Terminal with a banner that read "Climate Emergency" and climbed on top of the large glass awning of the New York Times building with sound equipment and signage.[169] The protest called for more urgent climate coverage by the New York Times and other media outlets, including through adherence to the group's publicly available media standards.[170]

Extinction Rebellion NYC continued to protest the quality of The New York Times' climate coverage through smaller actions outside the newspaper's headquarters, with particular focus on the Times' proposed sponsorship of an oil industry conference, Oil and Money 2019, scheduled for fall 2019 in London. In response, on September 3, 2019, the New York Times dropped its sponsorship of this conference, on the basis that the subject matter "gives us cause for concern." [171]

Protesters at the Wall Street, 7 October 2019

Beginning in the summer of 2019, Extinction Rebellion NYC members began a campaign of raising awareness of the climate crisis by making speeches and circulating information in subway cars.[172]

On August 10, 2019, over 100 people were arrested at a protest demanding that RXR Realty evict the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) from the Starrett–Lehigh Building due to the human rights abuses occurring at the US-Mexico border and ICE's role in mass deportations. This action, which involved protesters shutting down the West Side Highway, was co-sponsored by Extinction Rebellion NYC, Movimiento Cosecha, the NYC DSA Immigration Justice Working Group, and the Metropolitan Anarchist Coordinating Council.[173]

On September 5, 2019, members of Extinction Rebellion blocked traffic at multiple intersections in midtown Manhattan and performed dance routines to bring attention to the ongoing fires in Amazonia.[174]

On September 6, 2019, an activist with Extinction Rebellion became the first person in over 40 years to climb the Unisphere, a 140-foot-high (43m) stainless steel globe in Queens, New York. He hung a banner saying “ZERO CO2 2025, CLIMATE JUSTICE NOW”, along with the Extinction Symbol, over South America to draw attention to the fires ravaging Amazonia.[175]

On October 7, 2019, Extinction Rebellion activists threw fake blood over Wall Street's Charging Bull sculpture.[176][177]

Australian actions[edit]

"Declaration Day" at the Victorian State Government, 22 March 2019

Extinction Rebellion Australia held a 'Declaration Day' on 22 March 2019 in Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney, and Brisbane. Demonstrators assembled and protested to demand that governments and media declare a state of climate emergency. On the eve of international Rebellion Day, 15 April, an XR group occupied the Parliament of Australia's lower house, the House of Representatives.[178] On 19 April XR activists disrupted a railway line in Brisbane.[179]

Actions elsewhere[edit]

On 17 November 2018 there was a "Rebellion Day" action by the XR group in Stockholm,[180] as well as rallies in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Copenhagen, Berlin, and Madrid.[18]

On 15 April 2019, XR activists occupied part of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, forming human chains before being arrested.[181] Similar actions were organised by XR groups in Berlin, Heidelberg, Brussels, Lausanne, Madrid,[182] and Denver.[183]

On 11 September 2019, the Zurich wing of Extinction Rebellion dyed the Limmat river, the main river that flows through the centre of the Swiss city, luminous green.[184] XR activists floated face up and motionless in the river,[185] and floated downstream in imitation of dead bodies.[186] The action was done to highlight the various ways global warming threatens water.[187]

On 23 September 2019, at least 8 people were arrested during a Denver XR protest at the intersection of Speer Blvd. and Broadway for disrupting traffic to raise awareness of the group.[188]

On 10 October 2019 five activists, one woman and four men were arrested after chaining themselves to the gates of the Irish parliament, the Dail Eireann.[189]

On 29 November 2019, on a pseudo-holiday known as "Black Friday, traffic outside the Cherry Creek Mall in Denver was brought to a standstill at the hands of protesters. Extinction Rebellion Colorado blocked traffic by positioning a sleigh in the middle of East 1st Avenue, and locking people to the sleigh by their necks. The protest was aimed at showing the correlation between consumerism and environmental impact. The protest blocked traffic for three hours, as police and firefighters worked to safely detach the protesters from the sleigh they were locked to. Instead of cutting the locks around their necks, firefighters sawed off the poles to the sleigh, freeing the protesters from their position. Four people were arrested and cited for impeding a roadway and disobedience to a lawful officer.[190]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "XR Declaration" from 1hr 39m 15s; see "XR Declaration" in the External links section.

References[edit]

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