Extinction Rebellion #1

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The Extinction Rebellion took over much of Central London, as well as other cities in the UK, including Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Nottingham and in a number of countries abroad. The activists’ aspirations is to hold out for at least two weeks, although the police have given warnings they should hold their protests in certain locations only. In large this is being observed with some exceptions including Waterloo Bridge, and so far its said over 200 have been arrested. Like all other demonstrations on this scale, I would think the police will move in very soon and make attempts to clear the blockages and get London moving again.

As the following message shows, the Mayor himself has expressed sympathy for the cause, with reservations of course. (Sourced from Twitter) Some of the objectives of the demonstrators’ concerns are supported by the Mayor, including air pollution, and as has been indicated in the message, the Mayor had indeed declared a climate emergency in the city quite sometime ago. In my view its not very consistent. The advertising strategy seems a little contrived in my view and I don’t think it will make much of an impact, except a dent no doubt in TfL’s coffers! The ULEZ is a good move although again, there are mixed views about this and in some areas there are inconsistencies in how it is enforced.

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Before we move on, let me say this is simply a report, a photographic review of what has been going on. I am glad there are people making a stand but I am not in any way part of it, being merely an observer. It was nice to see what people were up to and the messages they were trying to deliver, plus the take overs of strategic parts of London, which is in some respects a good move but also in other respects it can cause people to be even less sympathetic to the cause because their lives, their work, is being compromised. I suppose with anything really, any cause that is fought for, you win some, lose some. By and large the protests have been peaceful although there have been moments as the media have reported, where damage has been done and so on. I suppose there is always going to be an element of people who want to do that bit extra and I wont condone anything that is beyond contempt.

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Although the demonstrators had by now gone to Oxford Circus, Marble Arch or Waterloo, there was still much evidence of the days’ earlier activities to be seen at Piccadilly Circus.

Having said that it is difficult to write these posts without having a slight tinge of bias in regards to the photographs shown here, so I shall try and keep this as objective as I can, without delving too much into the whys and wherefores of certain aspects of the demonstrations.

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The fantastic centre piece at Oxford Circus! A pink coloured yacht! That was a really great idea – to bring in a yacht and use it as a stage 🙂 The boat is
is named after a murdered Honduran forest campaigner – Berta Cáceres.

I missed most of the demonstrations throughout the day. In fact I didnt have any aspirations in taking any photographs of any of it! I went about my normal; research stuff, photographing here and there and when I came to cross Regent Street I saw it had been cordoned off and there were some protesters here and there – it was about 4.45pm. Thus I went down to Piccadilly Circus to see what had gone on there and then sort of decided to follow it up and made my way northwards.

Thus the first part of this starts with the West End, being Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Circus, Oxford Street, Marble Arch and the bottom end of Edgware Road.

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Banners right across the entrance to Oxford Circus tube station!

Extinction Rebellion moved in on the morning of Monday 15th April. They were very well prepared. Some of these demonstrations take a lot of organisation, planning, and sheer determination and they took over a pretty good number of Central London locations but soon retrenched, under pressure from the police, to certain key areas.

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Oxford Circus certainly had the most banners to be seen anywhere at the demonstration.

One would wonder why the police don’t move in straightaway and make arrests? Well I think they have changed their tactics. Move in straightaway and remove everyone and it gets nasty – especially as demonstrators will not have not had much chance to air their grievances. If its a violent protest the police will of course move in immediately and remove everyone if they can. If its peaceful there is the risk of stoking unrest and this is not what anyone wants. But the police cannot stand by for ever as laws are almost certainly being broken. I know laws are ‘meant to be broken’ but the police themselves have a duty to uphold the law – even though they sometimes uphold it wrongly or indeed have a bias. More about that later this year…

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Night time shot at the Oxford Circus focal point!

Overall it was good however to see that the centre of London, Oxford Circus was being held by the demonstrators and they even had a yacht plonked slap bang in the centre of the circus! To be honest it was an enjoyable sight and reminded me of some similar instances during some environmental campaigns that occurred years ago – its not a new idea anyway. There were all sorts of things going on, music, people in costumes, acrobats, that sort of thing, essential in maintaining a party like atmosphere.

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Above and below: Extinction Rebellion entertainers making their way down Oxford Street. They are from Invisible Circus.

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Oxford Street itself was empty of vehicles and it was an easy walk to Marble Arch, which was where the police really wanted everyone to congregate at. Indeed there were huge numbers here and tent cities established on both the main traffic islands. There was more entertainment and a large stage from which music was played or protesters spoke about their hopes and fears for the future.

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Entertainers at Marble Arch.

Environmental degradation is not something that should be disregarded. It is serious. At the moment there is no simple way of knowing just how much we have trashed, but I do believe we have done an exceedingly large amount of trashing and are still not quite waking up to the fact. I was with Friends of the Earth as early as 1975, so have had long enough experience to know how slowly the wheels of change turn.

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Unattended information stall in Park Lane with the police taking an interest!

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‘Ecocide.’ At the bottom of Great Cumberland Place.

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Large life sized puppetry at Marble Arch!

The latest on the rebellion is that police had looked as if they were beginning to move in and arrest those remaining at sites outside the Marble Arch area. That is where, as these pictures show, a large number of demonstrators can be accommodated without the amount of disruption to London’s transport and infrastructure network as is currently being experienced. I checked the Oxford Circus site late at night and it was doing okay despite a considerable amount of arrests that had occurred yesterday evening.

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The southern side of the Marble Arch gyratory system where a stage was erected for the purposes of entertainment and speeches.

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One of the ‘tent cities’ at Marble Arch.

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Blockade at the southern end of Edgware Road! All the traffic was being forced into Seymour Street.

As the above photograph shows, Extinction Rebellion wants to see zero carbon levels achieved by 2025 and negative carbon being attained by 2030. The British Government plans to achieve the former by 2050. That for negative carbon is not known. Negative carbon is when we are taking out more carbon from the environment than we are putting in (which is what we are doing at the moment – pumping more carbon into the atmosphere with cars, planes, factories, fridges, boilers and many other sources.)

Extinction Rebellion part two.

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