By christinaillenapeake, May 13 2019 12:35PM
I first learnt about the Extinction Revolution when the protests caused me to be three hours late for work. At first I was pissed but as I walkED on a beautiful day I took my phone out to photograph what was happening around me. Marble Arch had tents all over and an elephant with ecocide written across its back, Oxford Circus had a bright pink boat and Waterloo Bridge was more like a festival with both police and protesters being equally respectful of each other but obviously frustrated via quiet conflict of the situation.
The police force has been reduced by 20,000 officers and knife crime has seen a frightening growth, not that it isn't always present. This mayn't be gun country but most, if it is felt that its needed will hold something for protection and/or offence. I spoke with one of the police officer's and asked how she felt about it and the answer was the one I expected, that she would rather spend her time dealing with crime that put the lives of others at risk. I had to agree that I thought it was a waste of resources especially when you considered this was shortly after the murder in Clapham of a father of three children, killed at a traffic light in broad daylight. I appreciate the protestors were breaking the law. I mean you wouldn't need to protest or organise intervention in this manner nor would you create the same amount of publicity if there wasn't contention with the law.
I have been to a few protests over the years but I have to admit this was the most peaceful and respectful demonstration I have been too with plenty of vegan food in shopping trollies for those supporting. And that's what I found, that a number of the volunteers that I spoke to had joined when the protests started so I failed to find someone that could answer my questions, such as, I wanted to understand the concept of the 'citizen assembly' and how that would be taken for with government buy in or not, how the intentions of the protest would continue beyond the site specific intervention but I found it very difficult to get beyond the surface to the long-term vision of this movement.
I agree with many of the ideas but I don't know whether this was the best way of doing it? The reason being that for those already converted church is a given and for this protest many people are already like minded and thus join the cause and who doesn't want to be allied with environmental concern and sensitivity for the future. However my understanding is that this is a universal world issue and one as a nation that you will require collective solidarity of the public to work, so that everyone can take on their responsibility in addition to the government. I absolutely agree that the government as the governing body of our nation state has and should lead the way when it comes to environmental action however I wonder how effective it is to alienate sections of the public to protest against government inaction when this is a global societal issue. Those that don't agree with protest seemed more alienated. The points put forward by protestors (and I appreciate this is a small section that I met at the stands) couldn't really speak deeply about the issue and the key principles of the movement separate to what was printed on flyers and posters so I took as much contact information as I could so I can try and make further attempts to learn more about how this is to be taken forward. I wonder how many were protesting for protesting sake?
In contrast to the criticism, I do admire the amount of organisation that had gone into it and motivating people to turn up and make it happen. Although I didn't find the depth in the politics and thats hard when people are turning up and helping out on the spot and they were honest about what they didn't know and I value that deeply. I appreciated that they were exceptionally clear about the potential to be arrested and to consider what that means for you and your future. There was a maturity and responsibility taken with the call for action which is very seductive but they emphasied care should be taken when protesting. Workshops were run on a variety of subjects such non-violent protest. I even saw a stand where you could block print your own t-shirts and I loved the artwork that I saw for the posters and different places like on Waterloo Bridge. These people care deeply about the issues affecting our planet and I whole heartedly applaud that and agree.
For me I need to understand the core political points of the movement and the vision for it. Its not enough for me as one protestor said that its about the 'environment' and finished with that as a statement. I want to see the same environmental issues addressed but with practical and coherent answers that outline how that will be taken forth in line with research that is coming out with those at the vanguard of how to make that happen.
To me whether the government buys in or not, how as a movement of people can you take forward the actions that you want anyway? How can you change the things within your life to effect change as a million of your decisions collectively makes a difference? In addition to the government's responsibility to manage these issues on a national scale. This is the collective and the individual. I see the Extinction Rebellion standing in the middle of that reciprocity with the potential to do great work as many movements, organisations are doing already, moving toward instigating our government to do more but so far my first impression didn't provide me with a depth of how it is to survive, whether it is just a singular call to arms or one with a clear vision of how to push forward as you'll never win with the former and there is too much riding on need for change to fail. Therefore I intend to follow up on what was given to me and see what more I can learn. A first impression is just that. I want to see what happens when the honeymoon is over and the work begins because that is what I am up for.