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Extinction Rebellion Protest in London Photo: Jonathon Vines, Extinction Rebellion
The U.K. Parliament returned to work this week after their summer recess, and the leaders were met with thousands of Extinction Rebellion (XR) protesters who are leading acts of civil disobedience throughout London, which they plan to continue for another 10-14 days. At least 90 protesters were arrested so far. They are demanding action by the government on the climate crisis just as the Green Members of Parliament have announced that they will “table” or introduce a “Climate and Ecological Emergency” bill. Similar protests also took place in Manchester and in Cardiff, Wales.
Why This Matters: The COVID pandemic is much more under control in the United Kingdom than it is here, but government officials are not taking any chances — they have strict orders about social distancing and limiting the protests to off-road areas near Parliament Square. And they even forbid “boats, vehicles, trailers or other structures,” which have always been XR’s signature move. The filled D.C. with floats and pink boats last year — back in the “good old days” before COVID and police brutality. They still must be having an impact — on Tuesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said new climate “build back greener” policies would be coming this fall.
First Protests Since the Pandemic
The Guardian reported that the pandemic had stiffened the resolve of the protesters. One explained, “By living the way we live, we are making ourselves more vulnerable to these pandemics and that’s why [the climate crisis] should never have been off the agenda, it should be part and parcel of the Covid debate.” According to The Guardian, the overwhelming majority of those taking part were wearing masks, and the organizers also held an “online protest” for those unable to attend the demonstrations in person. The XR promised to focus more on the “institutions of power” in this year’s protests.
BJ’s Big Promises
Reuters reported that Prime Minister Johnson was sounding very progressive on these issues. According to their sources, Johnson told senior ministers before a meeting of the cabinet, “From this crisis we will build back better in this country, we will build back faster and we will build back greener. And there will be a lot to more to come about the way in which this government is going to lead a new green industrial revolution for the UK.”
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