Last month, the environmental activist group Extinction Rebellion (XR) took to the streets once again. This time, around 100 campaigners took on the press and banks by blockading their headquarters and offices with trucks.
XR has come to recognise and target companies that are complicit in climate change denial. Dancing through the streets and blocking roads is attention grabbing, but it doesn’t target the right people: the press in climate denial, big capital, and the politicians that cosy up to both of them. By blocking newspapers such as The Sun and The Daily Mail, they have raised the alarm that the institutions which are supposed to inform us are actually contributing to the destruction of the planet.
I have my criticisms of XR, despite the fact that I see myself as somebody who would be willing to take radical action to prevent climate catastrophe. Their “apolitical” stance is misguided in a world where the world’s resources are for-profit. They also seem to be made up of white, well-to-do activists, which means they’ve looked over the fact that their willingness to clash with the police makes many BAME environmentalists unable to get involved.
However, this time I think XR got it spot on. They directly targeted climate-denying organisations and got environmental issues back on the agenda. The backlash they’ve faced is unjustified and laughable, with some politicians calling the protest an attack on our free press, even leading the Home Secretary to consider classifying them as an “organised crime group”.
If our press was free, 87% of newspapers wouldn’t be controlled by three companies (News UK, Daily Mail Group, and Reach). Civil disobedience is democracy in action; it’s challenging the powerful when they let down the people, and peaceful activists should never be classified as criminals. When ecosystems are collapsing at the rate they currently are, radical action is needed and that is exactly what XR are doing.
Image Credit: David Holt