London has been buzzing with energetic climate activists throughout the month of October, with conversation around the climate emergency again gathering steam. Despite the unfortunate cancellation of the ‘Festival of Resistance’ scheduled in September due to the passing of the monarch, Extinction Rebellion was back with new plans for continuing action in October. Activists from around the country gathered in London for a ‘Weekend of Resistance’ from 14th to 16th of October, joined by a number of Oxford Rebels.
Trafalgar Square was humming with demonstrators on the 14th, who then marched to Downing Street for a sit-in protest. The government at the helm was crumbling away, but in stark contrast, the people gathered outside Number 10 were in steadfast solidarity and commitment to the cause. Several rebels defiantly burnt their energy bills, underscoring the connection between the cost of living crisis and the climate crisis.
Teresa, an Oxford Rebel, in her passionate appeal to the crowd said, “We are facing the collapse of all nature and humanity, and I can’t be a bystander to that. Every person here needs to step up and take it beyond here to all our friends and everyone we know. We want people to be on these streets again on the 21st of April, 2023”. The day ended with people’s assemblies to deliberate on how we can stay resilient as we gather in huge numbers throughout April in London.
The next stop was the Tate Modern on the 15th, where crowds gathered to hear from journalists, poets, organisers from a diverse range of movements, musicians, and a variety of performers. There were colourful outreach tents that distributed reading materials, pamphlets and stickers, and where many of the public flocked to engage rebels in conversations around the climate crisis and XR’s plans for April 2023. Meanwhile the samba band travelled through the area and energised the ambience.
“Seeing so many different people in the larger ecosystem of the climate movement was very encouraging. Especially when the goals of the climate action as well as the particular goals of XR for the April rebellion are so audacious, it requires a constant renewal of energy to keep going. Events like this really give a boost of fresh energy to the people”, said Abhi, an Oxford Rebel participating in the day’s events.
The 16th was the day of the Youth March, set in motion with regenerative activities. Though such events can often get sidelined in the rush to plan and implement actions, they are felt to be immensely valuable. The march proceeded through beautiful, leafy parks with flags shining in the sun, children and young people leading, and with many families throughout the crowd. The festive atmosphere was carried through to the central parks at Westminster, where young rebels planted an oak sapling in the middle of Parliament Square, and protected it the sapling for many hours. Even though the sapling was not allowed to grow on that spot, it symbolised the vision of the protest.
Ines said, “Having so many young people and children in the march made it more tangible to see why it is so important to continue demanding the end of fossil fuels and more drastic changes. I was very impressed by the composure and confidence with which the youth spoke and acted, considering how much more they stand to lose than us older people if action on the climate emergency continues to be so inadequate”.
The words of XR Oxford’s Cathy Allen ring true; “Global solidarity makes sense for everyone. For us in the global north, we feel the strength and passion of those fighting at ground zero of extractivism and climate impacts. For our sisters and brothers in the global south, we in the north can take their voices to the centres of the system – the companies, the financial institution, the governments. And for all of us fighting the system wherever we are, solidarity makes us less lonely and our fight more meaningful.”
Written by Abha Jeurkar, edited by Tyson Jones, with photos by Suzanne Williams