Extinction Rebellion: Rebellion Day 2

Rebellion Day 2 was the second large-scale demonstration in London by Extinction Rebellion, following a weeks' work of successful swarming tactics by small groups of rebels, who blocked roads in central London.

The theme was more somber than the generally happy and positive Rebellion Day 1, which took place a week earlier. The idea was to create a funeral-like atmosphere, in reference to the death of the generations to come, should we fail to change our culture and society, and to continue acting so out of harmony with the environment. I wore a suit, like many other rebels attending, and we tried to bury a coffin (with the words “OUR FUTURE” emblazoned on the side) in Parliament Square. This was more a symbolic gesture than anything else, namely because of the amount of time digging a grave would have taken. As it was, the police moved in after only a few shovelfuls of turf had been moved. They forced their way to the coffin by forming a human chain that they drove through the crowd like a nail, who were unfortunately slow to react and did not offer much resistance. A few rebels were pushed over and one activist was almost stood on by the police. While they were more active than what I had experienced at Rebellion Day 1, I still feel that perhaps they were going easy on us. I opine that the first steps the police would need to take to control a movement such as XR would be to gather information and then try to break apart the central group of organisers — as seen beginning to come into action by the move by Southwark Crown Court just a day before the Rebellion Day 1, where they summonsed Roger Hallam for old activism-related offences. This leads me to the conclusion that as XR becomes more influential and active, there will be attempts to “divide and conquer”. It is imperative that XR stays decentralised, uses multiple secure / encrypted messaging services, and remains unpredictable. Otherwise, I believe it is all too easy for the movement to lose momentum and for things to fall apart. Attempts to divide do not work if the movement has no head.

But I digress. The coffin was not buried, and so the bearers carried it at the front of the procession instead. We stopped a number of times, including a sit-down protest outside Downing Street where we held a silence for the lives lost, and those still to be lost. The procession was intentionally slow and more orderly than it might otherwise have been, to maintain the funeral atmosphere. This was successful despite a provocateur within the procession trying to disturb our silent Downing Street protest, shouting about us being “fascists” and “Nazis”. Fortunately he quickly quietened when XR rebels spoke to him calmly. I do not know whether he was placed there by the police or whether he was taking things into his own hands, but either way it had no impact on the course of events.

At some point the procession split up, with my half marching to Buckingham Palace. Though the Queen, unsurprisingly, did not come out to chat with us and enjoy the atmosphere, we addressed her as if she were present, stating our wishes and leaving flowers, placards and other offerings like food at the gates, around the coffin of our future. At this point the funeral atmosphere was complete and after respectfully acknowledging the catastrophe we are experiencing, a speaker read out our manifesto and then we shook off the gloom with drumming, dancing and music. A particularly inspired musician rapped the names of many countries around the world, reflecting the global nature of our cause.

It was interesting to take a different approach to the 'typical' procession and though there were fewer people attending, I still believe Rebellion Day 2 was just as successful as the first Rebellion Day.

References

https://enoughisenough14.org/2018/11/16/london-state-prosecution-tried-to-imprison-extinctionrebellion-cofounder-the-day-before-rebellionday/

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/nov/24/environmental-protesters-block-access-to-parliament-square-extinction-rebellion

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