A fire they can’t put out
By Extinction Rebellion - 15. October 2019
Change takes time: even at the rate we’re going – and need to be going – it’s never going to happen all at once.
But things are changing. The past week has been a moment in history: to simply list the thousands of arrests, the many tens of thousands undertaking civil disobedience, would not do it justice. We have proven to the world that this rebellion is a truly global movement, growing rapidly within and between nations, and comprised of people with the selflessness, the creativity and the courage to resist the madness of this ecocidal system.
In each country, we’re only beginning to see the political and cultural ramifications. For all the actions we report here (even these are just some of many), it’s impossible to do justice to the hard work and love that goes into them, and the creativity, joy and community which result. There is little space to convey the significance of that action, and the impact it leaves on media discourse and national dialogue.
But rest assured, every act of disobedience sends ripples, big or small.
In the broadest frame, a media monitoring service informs us that in the last week, Extinction Rebellion has featured in 53,490 media pieces with a ‘potential audience’ reach of many millions. Our message is being heard on TV, radio, print and online. And sure enough, online interest in our movement has shot through the roof.
As today’s stories show, this is not an interest contained to any single continent or country. A global crisis needs a global movement, and this is what we are becoming. At every level our actions this week have challenged mindsets, confronted systems and strengthened our movement with bonds of love and solidarity.
This International Rebellion isn’t over, but we’re already beginning to see its effects.
If you’d like to see previous newsletter issues, you can find them here.
As we enter this crucial phase in human history, our Rebellion will need money to make sure our message is heard. Anything you can give is appreciated.
12-13 OCT | India
On Saturday, 50 rebels took to the streets of Odisha’s capital city, Bhubaneswar. A die-in was followed by a moment of silence to pay tribute to all fellow activists who have been arrested. Attendees signed a letter to the Chief Minister of the State of Odisha calling for immediate action to address the climate and ecological emergency.
At the weekend, XR Guwahati was at the ‘The Big Burp’ – the city’s first food and music festival. Their stall provided information on the ecological crisis and invited visitors to sign up for future actions. On the second day, group members took to the stage to address the crowd, accompanied by an XR video on the big screen. This fantastic opportunity was in part due to the XR group including members of local band Rain In Sahara.
XR Delhi held a mixed day of regeneration on Sunday in Central Park. They hosted an information point and ran sessions on yoga, guided meditation, eco-anxiety, and live music, before moving on to the day’s main focus: holding people’s assemblies in public spaces. To demonstrate their belief in positive action, alongside disruption they finished the day by asking people to join them in a trash clean up.
London: You can’t eat money
14 OCT | London, UK
Rebels in London flooded the financial district, from Barclays to the Bank of England, with tremendous XR energy! No bank would take a risk like the one this government is taking with our lives, one rebel points out.
Some dressed as canaries and glued themselves to the Walkie Talkie Building, enacting the Irish President’s quip that ‘if we were miners we would be up to our knees in dead canaries.’ Others staged theatrics outside BlackRock, the world’s largest investor in coal mines and oil and gas companies.
Still more simply sat in the middle of the road outside the Bank of England, not least an emeritus Rabbi and lifelong environmental activist. Just before his arrest, he described Extinction Rebellion: “It is activism, but underneath it’s also about rebuilding, about showing that a society can function better when people collaborate.”
London rebels have been offered a number of ‘sanctuary’ spaces, which became especially important after a surprise visit by the police to Trafalgar Square, very late at night. Numerous rebels were arrested and the site was cleared, except for one 71-year-old Welsh farmer who valiantly glued on.
Monday evening saw the police push the boundaries of the law and remove XR’s right to protest in London. But we will not be deterred. At the end of Day 8, rebels sleep peacefully in Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, as they wait to see what tomorrow brings. Fear not, we still have a few tricks up our sleeves.
For the London Newsletter with updates from all the sites, click this button:
What’s the plan? Get familiar with Rebellion week 2’s planned mass actions, and COME ON DOWN.
Berlin says Thank You and Good Night
14 OCT | Berlin, Germany
Monday marked the final day of the Berlin Climate Camp and the packed schedule of actions across the city finally came to an end.
Each day, the Climate Camp has featured a ‘town hall’ intended to breathe life into the third demand that climate and ecological justice be led by the decisions of a Citizen’s Assembly.
After a week of open and productive discussions from expert speakers and a good deal of debate, some of the resulting ideas were displayed outside the camp, situated opposite the Reichstag parliament building.
A lack of official comment from the German government over the past week makes it difficult to know how much they’ve been listening. In response, German rebels said that whilst their camp may be over, their work continues.
They also said a hearty farewell and thank you to all the Scandinavian rebels – Swedes, Danes, Norwegians and Finns – who are now returning to their homelands. They helped make the Berlin rebellion a resounding and multinational success.
Jakarta – March through sinking streets
13 OCT | Jakarta, Indonesia
Rebels in the sinking city of Jakarta, notorious for its intense traffic, marched four kilometres down the biggest major toll road in Indonesia’s ill-fated capital on Sunday. They demand action on the climate crisis that threatens to submerge 95% of the city by 2050.
Jakarta is sinking from land subsidence due to draining aquifers below, meaning half the city is now below sea level. Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo announced a relocation of the country’s capital city to a yet-to-be-built city on the island of Borneo, which is already suffering from massive deforestation and repeated fires ravaging its forests.
Montreal swarms in pyjamas and drinks symbolic Klim-Ade
11 – 13 OCT | Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Montreal isn’t sleeping on the job in this Rebellion. About 40 rebels woke the city up to the emergency in style and slowed down traffic with a ‘pyjama swarm’. Rebels repeatedly crossed the street at a red light, and stood in the road for a few minutes with suitable (polite) signage before moving aside to let traffic through.
On Saturday, 60 rebels formed the city’s inaugural critical mass bike ride along Sherbrooke Ouest. Dressed for the occasion with XR Flags, signs and freshly-cut weeds, the cycles peacefully occupied one lane and held a space about a block long, with support from the SPVM (Montreal police) who even encouraged them to ride through the red lights!
On Sunday, in a creative twist on the standard die-in, 50 rebels took a symbolic sip of KlimAde before collapsing, a refreshing beverage ‘to COOL you down as the planet HEATS up!’, available in four flavours: Delicious Denial, Delicate Despair, Berrylicious Business as Usual, and Irresistible Inaction.
14-year-old rebel Bea explained that the event was to educate people about the psychological barriers to taking action. As appealing as they sound, all flavours unfortunately lead to extinction. This action in downtown Montreal marked the end of their week of rebellion, but rest assured more disruption is in the pipeline.
Gambia – When it rains, it pours
14 OCT | Banjul, Gambia
Earth protectors in the Gambia suffered heavy downpours before an action in capital city Banjul, yesterday, organised by local conservation organisation, Climate Save Gambia. Organisers claim not enough is being done to address the fact that “awareness about climate extremes among the people of the Gambia is too low”.
Local XR members rescued children on their way to school from the torrential onslaught, before marching through the city. Children chanted demands for climate justice, as the group called on their government to “take drastic measures to put a stop to the menace and trauma our children face daily.”
Melbourne rebels sink to rise anew
13 OCT | Melbourne, Australia
Rebels in Melbourne brought their rebellion to a close with a drown-in on Sunday, marking an “act of symbolic drowning and rising anew”. Over 500 rebels marched on land stolen from the aboriginal Wurrundjeri-willam people, to Brunswick St. in the inner suburb of Fitzroy.
The drown-in was a sombre affair, led by a funeral procession to honour earth protectors who have lost their lives in the fight for our future. Marine-themed props were also in abundance. No arrests were made and the overall mood was a celebratory end to a week-long rebellion that saw 111 rebels arrested.
XR Sri Lanka refresh, recycle, rebel
12 OCT | Colombo, Sri Lanka
On Saturday, XR Sri Lanka co-hosted its first ever beach cleanup strike at the Dehiwala beach in Colombo. More than 40 volunteers attended the event and collected over 50 bags of waste from just a 250-metre stretch. Local children also joined the action. All the collected waste was separated and sent to be recycled. All the Styrofoam will be given back to manufacturers.
Rebels also staged a die-in at the beach to raise awareness on the devastating effects of ocean pollution and the climate emergency.Sri Lanka are the second most vulnerable country to the effects of the climate crisis, a tragic reminder that those who contribute the least to the climate emergency are the ones who will suffer the most.
They plan to host many more beach clean-ups, as well as reforestation rebellions.
See more of the beautiful and courageous action from the International Rebellion in XR Unchained. There is so much to tell.
Rome. Italian Rebels end their seven day fast with a meal of ashes, symbolising food scarcity on a dying planet. There were Catholic overtones of redemption and forgiveness
Indonesia. Darurat Iklim = Climate Emergency
Poland. Red Rebels in Poznan
Vancouver Island. Rebels on Johnson Street bridge
London. A family of 4 hold hands in the centre of the London banking district, home of climate criminals
Berlin. Good grub at the German camp.
- Inspiring video of XR Vancouver’s action, a bridge block standing alondside indigenous peoples
- An investigation will seek to determine whether police used excessive force against protesters taking part in the Brussels Rebellion.
- George Monbiot’s rousing speech: Why the weird are destined to change the world
- An important reflection on the work that needs to be done to dismantle middle class white privilege within XR
- Video of Mr Broccoli being arrested goes viral
‘I joined XR from afar. I was living in California and doing political activism over there for the climate and also for civil rights, and the part of me that is really British was noticing stuff that was happening over here in London, and there was some kind of a sense that I was meant to be here. So I basically packed up my life of 30 years over there and moved back indefinitely, most likely permanently. Because there’s nothing more urgent.
My daily life is totally affected by knowing there’s a climate emergency going on, and to be honest, because I was living in California when Donald Trump was elected I actually made a vow that morning, that if I was to die early it would be because I was fighting on behalf of the Earth. Ever since then I’ve lived with this sort of pressure, like when you know a storm is coming.’
Brutality in Belgium
October 14, 2019 by Extinction Rebellion
It’s been quite a weekend. We’ve seen no slowing down of global actions: Berlin, London, Australia, Turkey – as ever, more than we can name.
But today’s showstoppers are undoubtedly the rebels in the Netherlands, Czech Republic, and most of all in Belgium.
Well over 700 arrests took place in these three countries, 435 in Brussels alone, but these numbers on their own say nothing of the extraordinary courage shown by rebels in the face of some of the most appalling treatment our movement has yet faced.
Rebels form Extinction symbol on Bondi Beach (epic sweeping drone footage here).
We stand together. Whether it’s teargas in Brussels or Paris, injuries from excessive force in Prague, police discrimination in London, undemocraticnew laws in Australia, or state repression in any other nation, our answer is always the same: compassionate, powerful nonviolence.
Every peaceful protester mistreated by the police means ten more in their place tomorrow; every video of state violence in a ‘democratic’ state is paid for with that government’s legitimacy.
We’re changing the world – there’s no question of that. The question governments must ask themselves is whether they will speed that process up with repression, or speed it up with genuine democratic dialogue.
We cried ‘We Are Peaceful’ as They Beat us to the Ground
12 OCT | Brussels, Belgium
Police confronting Olivier de Schutter, UCL professor and former UN special rapporteur on the right to food. Credit: Francois Dvorak
Scenes of violence shook the European capital as over 400 peaceful protesters were brutally arrested. Using water cannons, pepper-spray, batons and shields, police tore through a crowd of approximately 1000 people, wounding and traumatizing with an air of mockery and spite.
This is without doubt the most striking display of aggression that we’ve seen thus far, as well as being the biggest mass arrest in XR’s short history.
The protest, part of #RoyalRebellion, took place on Koningsplein near the royal palace. (One of the family, at least, is already convinced:Princess Esmeralda was arrested with us in London earlier this week). At around 2pm, rebels occupied the square in true XR style. They brought flags, musical instruments and good intentions. They even brought a boat.
At around 5pm the police began to move in, and by 6.30pm it was all over. In the space of an hour and a half, hundreds of people were pepper-sprayed in the face, including a 2-year-old girl. The police used the water cannon three times, pummelling the seated protesters with ice-cold water. They wrestled non-violent rebels to the ground, pressing their heads into the cobbles, and they laughed as they did it.
Many of the rebels suffered panic and anxiety attacks as they lay shivering on the ground waiting to be led to the vans.
Of the 435 arrests, 118 were released from the police station after an ID check, the other 317 were held until 3am and dropped off at random locations around the city, distressed and unable to get home as there was no public transport available.
It’s difficult to articulate how shocking these reports are. Our hearts go out to all of those directly or indirectly affected; and our compassion must also extend to those on the other side of this violence: captives themselves of a system bigger than any individual.
No words can say it better than those of the Belgium rebels who, even while they were being dragged to the ground and beaten, were still chanting: ‘We love you. We are peaceful. We do this for your children.’
Prague Rebels Stick to the Plan
12 OCT | Prague, Czech Republic
130 rebels were detained by Czech police on Saturday when they lay down on a pedestrian crossing in the centre of Prague and blocked afternoon traffic.
Police reacted quickly, and some rebels who were glued-on suffered minor injuries – their hands torn off the tarmac by officers with no experience of this kind of protest.
The blockade fell on the same day as the funeral of Karel Gott, a singer so popular in the country that it was declared a day of national mourning. Asked why they did not call off the protest, rebels said: “Karel Gott lived a long and rich life and died peacefully in his sleep. This is something that we and our children may not get”.
12-13 OCT | Amsterdam
Rebels in Amsterdam were active across three different sites this weekend, with at least 160 rebels arrested.
Police were unable to prevent 300 rebels from dragging a yellow boat to the center of Blauwbrug bridge, which was blocked for several hours, disrupting tram, road and water traffic. Rebels stood side by side, holding their ground to remind us of our collective power in the face of an existential threat.
When rebels were finally dispersed, after several hours, many were taken away by bus to the outskirts of the city.
This did not, however, prevent Dutch rebels from rounding things off with an eye-grabbing projection in the city centre!
Grief March sees 20,000+ swamp Oxford Street
12 – 13 OCT | London, UK
London hosted an array of brilliant actions over the weekend, but by far the largest and most eye-catching was the Extinction March: a sombre and highly imaginative funeral procession that allowed rebels to grieve for the ongoing ecocide. The march drew a crowd of more than 20,000 people, despite near continuous rain, and brought Oxford Street to a standstill for several hours.
The procession included the work of more than 80 different XR arts & culture groups, with highlights including an aquarium’s worth of skeleton sea life, a giant human skull, a jazz funeral band, and a dodo sign saying ‘Wake up before we dodo’.
In another major action of the weekend, hundreds gathered outside New Scotland Yard to protest the reprehensible police tactic of confiscating wheelchairs and other vital equipment needed by disabled rebels to stay safe.
Elsewhere, theDoctors of XR laid 110 pairs of shoes on the steps of Trafalgar Square to represent the number of lives taken every day in the UK because of uncontrolled air pollution. Scientists declared support for Non-Violent Direct Action against the UK Government for its inaction over the climate crisis. And Greta’s speech was projected rather impressively onto the Houses of Parliament, alongside indigenous activists.
In Trafalgar Square, there was a solidarity action with the Ecuadorian people, who are currently being shot and run over by their own police as they protest against their government’s brutal austerity measures. Across the Square, XR children gave a moving performance of their song ‘SOS from the Kids’.
French rebels show what real democracy looks like
OCT 12 | Assemblée Nationale, Paris, France
After having set up camp for five days in the heart of Paris, cycled to the Arc de Triomphe and co-occupied the Italie 2 shopping centre with the Yellow Vests, it was time for French rebels to directly speak to those in power by demonstrating outside the French National Assembly.
When rebels sat down directly in front of the assembly, which is forbidden to any demonstration, police pushed them to the neighboring bridge, and trapped them there for 7 hours with a police cordon. Rebels held a giant People’s Assembly to show the French government what real democracy looks like.
Some rebels walked along the bridge’s narrow walls to leave, and some even threatened to jump into the Seine – prompting the arrival of two police boats. Rebels still danced and played games, even making the line of police officers smile.
Meanwhile, XR and Youth For Climate France held a sit-in in front of the radio headquarters of Europe 1, until finally the station took a recording of the message they had to share.
Australian rebels get naked and put their heads in the sand
12 – 13 OCT | Australia
In Melbourne, shoppers saw more than they bargained for as the Nudie Parade took to the streets, demonstrating perfectly how to get vulnerable about the crisis. Later in the day, hundreds took part in a ‘mass drown-in’ to draw attention to rising sea levels, which was accompanied by a march, songs and inspiring words from local rebels.
AsCivil Disco-bedience videos enjoy popularity online, Australia’s creative rebellion continues. In Sydney, a group of rebels buried their heads in the sand (brilliant video here) as a demonstration of their government’s denial of the climate and ecological crisis.
A swarming team in Adelaide warm up.
Hundreds of rebels blocked the William Jolly Bridge in Brisbane for 2 hours, resulting in almost 50 arrests. In Tasmania, 9 rebels were arrested at a roadblock, and XR in Adelaide made some noise at their block party with two rebels arrested.
Sunshine and foreboding as Berlin simmers
12 – 13 OCT | Berlin, Germany
After three nights, the 400-rebel blockade was finally cleared from outside the Environment Ministry. The site was of course left spotless.
The camp hosted a discussion for 6 -13 year-olds on ‘How adults should act’. Elsewhere, the Berlin XR Choir took advantage of the extra weekend shoppers to pipe up in the vast Berlin Mall.
Outside art gallery Haus der Kulturen der Welt, a giant wooden whale makes an appearance.
While police were laid back when clearing the camp, the 30 rebels who swarmed a motorway slip road a few hours later received far harsher treatment. Officers issued reprimands and took down rebels’ details. Not far away in Tiergarten Park, rebels held a large afternoon assembly to decide how their actions would develop.
The weekend was a freakishly hot one for Berlin in October, and while the city’s nomadic rebels enjoyed the sunshine, there was also a sense of foreboding. One only had to look up to see the trails of jet planes criss-crossing the clear blue sky.
Five Get Arrested in Dublin
10 – 11 OCT | Dublin, Ireland
In the small hours of Friday, five rebels locked themselves to the Dail parliament building in protest at their government’s approval of the Shannon LNG deal – a deal that will make the country dependent on imported liquified natural gas for up to 50 years!
Rebels formed a blockade around the five lock-ons and it took more than 40 Gardai police and two fire squads to remove them for arrest. Despite the rain, the demonstration was a cheerful and vibrant party that drew in passersby.
Thursday morning saw rebels gluing themselves to the Dublin office of the PR firm Red Flag, whose toxic clients include Monsanto. This was followed by a visit to the Minister of Agriculture with the gift of a native tree to oppose the Sitka tree plantations turning Ireland into an ecological dead zone.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Minister refused to meet the rebels.
XR Youth Slovakia Raise an Empty Glass
7-10 OCT | Bratislava, Slovakia
On Monday, Slovakian rebels toasted the beginning of the Rebellion at their foodless feast. Rebels explained: ‘We wanted to show that, due to the climate and ecological crisis, we might not have any food left by 2050. So cheers to rebelling – it’s our only hope!’
Rebels blocked the entrance to the Ministry of the Economy, using a swarming technique to protest the Ministry’s refusal to respect the Paris Agreement targets.
On Thursday, rebels came together for a spontaneous collective bike lift to celebrate sustainable ways of getting around the city.
More of the beautiful and courageous action from the International Rebellion. There is so much to tell.
XR Turkey protest outside the Istanbul Biennial, a major contemporary art exhibition with fossil fuel based sponsors. Rebels poured ‘crude oil’ down the front entrance.
Police in Brussels react with shocking and disproportionate force to peaceful protest.
Rebels in hammocks block the waterways in Amsterdam.
A colourful Pride banner brightens up a rainy day in London.
To mark Indigenous People’s Day, a grief ceremony was held for the thousands of ancestral bones that lie in the British Museum, taken thousands of miles from their communities and the ground they should be buried under.
Rebel Riders caused disruption through the streets of Rome while elsewhere roads were swarmed. The hunger strike by 15 rebels outside the Italian parliament is now in its 7th day.
A mighty symbol is projected onto the Eye Cinema in Amsterdam.
Educational outreach in Hamra by XR Lebanon on Saturday.
- Beautiful photos of the Rebellions happening around the world
- A look into XR Italy as Rebels in Rome continue their hunger strike
- Former Irish president Mary Robinson likened Extinction Rebellion’s actions to protests over apartheid and slavery
- Comedian Nish Kumar has something to say about Extinction Rebellion, and it’s hilarious
Rianka, 21, Student
“There’s nothing better I could be doing with my time than protesting to try to save the world.
This is the first thing I’ve ever felt truly part of, and that I belong to, and I feel so safe at these events despite all the police presence. I’ve definitely discovered a love for community that I didn’t know I had, and I’ve also discovered an ability to see past people’s views. I’ve bridged more diverse connections than I ever would have if I wasn’t in XR.
I’m not down to be arrested. I just think as a woman and as a person of colour… there are just too many risks. My future is already in danger, environmentally, I don’t want to endanger it even more. The police are institutionally racist, they have so many problems. Chanting ‘We love the police’ is putting off so many people of colour from joining XR.”
Thank you for reading! Stay strong, rebels, your energy is so valued.
If you’d like to see previous newsletter issues, you can find them here.
As we enter this crucial phase in human history, our Rebellion will need money to make sure our message is heard. Anything you can give is appreciated.