Today 11:30am: Extinction Rebellion UK to hold peaceful protest at French Embassy in solidarity with XR France

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  • Today 11:30am: Extinction Rebellion UK to hold protest in solidarity with Extinction Rebellion France outside French Embassy in London
  • Protest comes in response to police deploying tear gas on French Extinction Rebellion activists on the Pont de Sully in Paris last week
  • The peaceful protest will involve speeches from eye-witnesses, civil liberties organisations, and members of London’s French community before a ‘reenactment’
  • Activists will also deliver a letter to the Embassy, addressing both the staff and the French Government 

Today at 11:30am Extinction Rebellion UK will peacefully protest outside the French Embassy in London in solidarity with Extinction Rebellion France. 

The protest comes in response to French police spraying tear gas – a Category B weapon under French law – at point blank range at non-violent Extinction Rebellion activists last week who occupied the Pont de Sully bridge in Paris to highlight the climate and ecological emergency.[1]

During today’s protest, activists will give speeches and peacefully re-enact the events that took place in Paris to highlight the disproportionate and dangerous nature of the police response. Attendees are encouraged to wear sunglasses on the day to represent one activist who had his sunglasses deliberately removed by a police officer before he was sprayed with tear gas.

Activists will also deliver a letter to the embassy apologising for the disruption and asking them to help “sound the alarm” about the climate and ecological emergency. See full letter below.

On their Facebook event, Extinction Rebellion UK said “We do not accept this treatment of our friends and colleagues overseas, who put their health and liberty at risk for the planet and future shared by all. In conjunction with rebels in America, Austria and elsewhere, we will gather outside the French embassy to demand that the French government respects the rights of protesters, be they members of Extinction Rebellion or otherwise.”

On the day of the Paris protest on the Pont de Sully, France experienced its hottest June day in France’s history before it was announced that June was the hottest month recorded ever on Earth. [2] [3] The actions of the police towards peaceful climate activists follows Emmanuel Macron’s recent comments reiterating his support of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, declaring it his “Red Line” issue at the G20 summit last month.[4]

Douglas Rogers from Extinction Rebellion UK who took part in the Paris protest said: “I was on the bridge. There’s a lot the footage can’t convey: the burning in your lungs, mouth and eyes; the relentless shove of riot shields. The agony of watching a friend coughing uncontrollably on the wrong side of the cordon, and being unable to help as even trained doctors weren’t let through. Burns that started scabbing five days later.

“No one should have to experience this, let alone people peacefully protesting what the UN itself calls a ‘direct existential threat’ to humanity. Macron claims to ‘need our energy’ in achieving system change – does he need to gas us in return?”

Extinction Rebellion UK activist and event organiser, Luke Adams said: “As if the refusal of governments around the world to tackle climate change wasn’t worrying enough, even more frightening are the tactics French police used to silence those trying to peacefully protest. These government actions threaten not only our planet, but our liberty. Authoritarian acts such as these have no place in our democracy.”

Schedule for the day:

11:50 – Speeches

12:15 – Singing French songs

12:30 – Re-enactment of Paris protests

13:00 – Re-centering; Reading of love-letters

13:30 – Formal statement to the embassy and French government

Letter to French embassy and government


To Jean-Pierre Jouyet, and the French embassy:

On Friday the 28 May 2019, in Paris, the CRS were deployed with riot shields and pepper spray to clear members of Extinction Rebellion who were peacefully seated, cross-legged, blocking a bridge over the Seine.

We’re shocked by this incident, but we come to your doorstep not in opposition but as friends. This protest is in no sense directed at or against the embassy itself. We’re sure that most of your staff, and indeed the French people at large, were horrified by the police response; we extend our deep sympathy to all who were disturbed by the footage. We’re here not to oppose but to support the French state as it recognises and overcomes this long-outdated practice of meeting peacefulness with violence.

We hope that those in the embassy will do all they can to defend civil liberties, both at home and abroad – not least in the UK, and not least in Autumn as Extinction Rebellion joins countless other movements for a phase of truly mass civil disobedience.

We also hope that those in the embassy understand the terrifying reason why more and more people all over the world are willing to face up to such treatment. The real question posed on Friday was not how quickly police can clear the streets in Paris, but how quickly French society will be able to confront the gravest crisis of our age. The longer the discussion centres on our tactics instead of our message, the less time we have to prevent the collapse of our ecosystems, and with them our borders, states and civilisation.

Please do everything you can to help sound the alarm – beginning by conveying the message below to the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, the Interior Ministry and the Ministry of Ecology.

If you would like to hear more about what drives us to be here, we would be glad to give a briefing to your staff, at the time of your choice and in the language of your preference. If you think we can help, please contact us at eventsxr@gmail.com.

To Emmanuel Macron, and the French government:

On Friday the 28 May 2019, in Paris, the CRS were deployed with riot shields and pepper spray to clear members of Extinction Rebellion who were peacefully seated, cross-legged, blocking a bridge over the Seine.

We are heartened to hear about the official inquiry into the police response and to see that the government is giving the question of police violence the attention it deserves. Though France undoubtedly excels  in so many areas, from climate to cuisine to football, we’re confident that the French government could learn from others in its approach towards nonviolent civil disobedience.

In April, over 1,000 members of Extinction Rebellion were arrested for the occupation of five sites in central London; this took place without a single injury to either police officers or protesters. In this case and so many others, nonviolence and dialogue benefited both parties, with organisers and officers communicating to lower the odds of unpredictable situations. We hope the official inquiry will bring this fact to light, and would happily offer our members’ testimony.

Even if the French government’s critics are right in their claims that the CRS values smooth traffic over civil liberty, it would be no less unreasonable to repress Extinction Rebellion and its message. With devastating hail in the Drome region, and record-breaking heatwaves, it’s becoming ever more obvious that without radical shifts in awareness and policy, minor disruptions to traffic will be the very least of the public’s concerns. The UN itself states that humanity’s existence is at stake, and that ‘unprecedented changes’ are needed. What government would violently resist the force of such change?

We’re no less perplexed by the government’s apparent ignorance of the change we represent – specifically Environment Minister Francois de Rugy’s public claim that we “propose nothing”. Extinction Rebellion has very clear demands. Extinction Rebellion demand that the government and media tell the truth about the climate and ecological emergency and that they act as though it is an emergency. We urge monsieur de Rugy to meet with representatives of Extinction Rebellion France, so that they can explain to him the urgency and gravity of what we propose.

Using chemicals won’t make the ecological emergency go away, and it won’t make this rebellion go away. The next time Parisian police deploy teargas on this movement’s peaceful protesters, they can expect to find rebels from Britain sitting in solidarity alongside their French brothers and sisters. We may come from different countries, but we will lay down our bodies for one planet.

Notes to Editors:

[1] https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/lesterfeder/paris-riot-police-teargas-climate-protestors-xr

[2] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/france-hottest-temperature-weather-forecast-heatwave-record-latest-a8979206.html

[3] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/june-hottest-month-ever-earth-2019-weather-heatwave-hot-a8984691.html

[4] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/26/world/europe/macron-climate-change.html

About Extinction Rebellion:

Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction, global pollution, and abrupt, runaway climate change. Societal collapse and mass death are seen as inevitable by scientists and other credible voices, with human extinction also a possibility, if rapid action is not taken.

Extinction Rebellion believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by their Government.

Extinction Rebellion’s key demands are:

  1. Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
  2. Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
  3. Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.

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About Rising Up!
Extinction Rebellion is an initiative of the Rising Up! network, which promotes a fundamental change of our political and economic system to one which maximises well-being and minimises harm. Change needs to be nurtured in a culture of reverence, gratitude and inclusion; whilst the tools of civil disobedience and direct action are used to express our collective power.

Website http://www.risingup.org.uk/;

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/RisingUpUK/;
Twitter https://twitter.com/RisingUpUK

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