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Protesters marched from the Houses of Parliament in London Photo: Ylenia Gostoli, Al Jazeera
The protest group The Extinction Rebellion yesterday began two weeks of peaceful protests in cities across the globe, including many in NYC where they poured fake blood on the bull statue in front of the stock exchange and in London where they took drums and banners to 11 sites around Westminster, blocking bridges and roads leading to the Parliament. The protesters were peaceful but disruptive — in Amsterdam, signs read “SORRY that we blocked the road, but this is an emergency,” and in Berlin activists stood in near-freezing temperatures singing “Solid as a rock, rooted as a tree” at the Victory Column roundabout near Tiergarten park.
Why This Matters: These protests are getting more serious — the protesters did things like glue or chain themselves to cars parked in the middle of roads or to street lamps, making it hard for police officers to detain them. Police in numerous cities arrested hundreds and authorities vowed to crack down on anyone who broke the law, even as part of non-violent civil disobedience. According to Reuters, on Saturday, the police deployed a battering ram to break into a building in south London where activists had been storing materials to use during the protests. There will be protests in more than 60 cities worldwide over the next two weeks in order to press governments to take action on climate change, which is bound to garner lots of attention to the issue. These protesters mean business and do not seem inclined to stop until they get leaders to agree to a drastic global reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.
The Extinction Rebellion
The group is based in London but, as we have reported, now has many chapters in the U.S. They staged similar protests two weeks ago in D.C., and last April in London which lasted 11 days. In New York City, the protesters expect “several thousand people” will continue to gather in New York’s Washington Square Park for a week of protests and speeches that are expected to involve further actions of civil disobedience. “There will be broad disruption of business as usual,” a New York-based Extinction Rebellion spokesman told The Guardian. “Frankly we don’t have time to wait for an opportune moment. Climate breakdown is underway and we can’t afford to wait.”
Boris Johnson’s Reaction
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson at an event last night said of the protesters, “I am afraid that the security people didn’t want me to come along tonight because they said the road was full of uncooperative crusties and protesters of all kinds littering the road. And they said there was some risk that I would be egged.”
Extinction Rebellion at New York City’s famous Charging Bull statue Photo: Mike Segar, Reuters
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