Newsletter 26: UK local actions

Four rebels arrested at XR Manchester Pension Fund action

19 JUL | GMPF, Manchester

A crowd of 60 rebels gathered outside the Greater Manchester Pension Fund to demand that it withdraw its billions from fossil fuel investments. The GMPF is the biggest and dirtiest of its kind in the UK with 10% of its investments (£2bn) in fossil fuels, or fossil fuel investors.

Five rebels locked on and glued themselves to the front entrance to show councillors the depth of their feeling about these immoral and untenable investments. Four of these rebels were arrested and taken to two different police stations.

The Fund meeting was scheduled to be open to the public, but they changed it at the last minute to exclude other perspectives being voiced in the room. The Fund’s committee say they will withdraw funds eventually by 2050, but we say that is WAY too late given the climate and ecological emergency.

We had some vocal support from passing drivers and pedestrians, although of course not everyone agreed with what we were doing!

Here’s a video of Neil, one of the locked-on rebels, explaining why he thinks this action is necessary.

The Uprising continues later this summer in Manchester with the 4-day Northern Rebellion, starting 30 August. All are welcome to come along for four days of peaceful direct action, training, talks and energising togetherness for rebels. Please sign up here.

XR Birmingham – Fight Fast Fashion Show

13 JUL | High Street, Birmingham

Birmingham rebels amassed outside their local Primark (which also happens to be the world’s biggest) to stage a sustainable fashion show and raise awareness of the damage done to the planet by fast fashion.

The eco-friendly extravaganza saw a parade of models showcasing jaw-dropping garments on one of the city’s busiest streets. The sumptuous yet sustainable outfits were all designed by local fashion students. There was also a clothes swap area, where people could exchange old garments they no longer wanted.

XR speakers then put the spotlight on fast fashion, describing how quickly changing trends and a throw-away culture leads to an unsustainable thirst in the clothing industry for raw materials, cheap labour, and toxic waste dumping. The situation has become so bad that the industry is now considered the second biggest polluter on the planet.
The fashion show was followed by drumming, dancing and a die-in across the entrance of the Primark store. The action lasted three hours and the atmosphere remained joyful and dazzling throughout. You can watch a short video of the fabulousness here.

Doctor Cliff Kendall’s Hunger Strike

25 JUL | Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, London

This is Cliff Kendall. He’s a doctor who has worked for much of his career in South Africa in communities ravaged by HIV. 

For the past eleven days, he has been on hunger strike. 

He knows that the government’s target to go carbon neutral by 2050 is too late; he wants them to move that target forward, ideally much further forward. To this end, he will be spending the next week outside the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, while he observes the second phases of his strike. He has written to Michael Gove stating his methods and intentions.

His motivation undoubtedly comes from his experiences as a medic in countries he describes as ‘frail’. He talks about Nigeria, where the summers already reach 50°C, and huge numbers live subsistence lives. Such places will be quickly decimated by the coming temperature changes. He speaks also of worldwide levels of malnutrition, which in the past few years, for the first time in decades, have stopped decreasing.

Cliff is feeling emotionally stable. Physically, he feels tired, but is set to see the strike through. He has enjoyed interacting with inquisitive passersby.

You can read Cliff’s own statement of intent here. A friend and colleague has written about Cliff here

Thank you for your efforts, Cliff. We hope that they are fruitful.

XR Surrey wins declaration from Council

9 JUL | Surrey County Hall, Kingston

Extinction Rebellion groups from across Surrey and SW London attended Surrey County Council (SCC) on Tuesday 9th to highlight the council’s continued failure to acknowledge the climate crisis.

Following direct action at the last 3 council meetings, XR has pushed the climate & ecological crisis to the top of the political agenda of SCC, with the council acknowledging that voting on declaring an emergency was brought forward due to XR’s actions.

A unanimous decision of 80 from 81 councillors passed the motion to declare a climate emergency.  

XR applauds this decision, and we now expect SCC to enact policy to mitigate the emergency. 

This includes divestment of pension funds, banning oil & gas drilling in Surrey, and showing firm opposition to Heathrow and Gatwick expansion.

Following the declaration, 70 rebels marched to halt Kingston traffic for 45 minutes, as a reminder that whilst we support the council’s declaration, we will not rest until policies are implemented to move Surrey toward carbon neutrality and lead the battle against climate breakdown.

XR Cornwall Fast Fashion action, feat. Red Rebels and The Penitents

20 JUL | Truro, Cornwall

A very moving action against throwaway fashion brought the streets of Truro to a standstill on a busy Saturday. Cornwall’s own Red Rebel Brigade led the action to three different locations in the city where the horrors of fast fashion, the second biggest polluter after oil, were explained and vividly demonstrated with the help of a clothes line and then a die-in.

XR Helston’s Penitents in sackcloth and ashes made their second appearance, wearing the ‘sins’ of fast fashion around their necks. The action ended with chanting and XR songs spontaneously led by a young schoolchild.

Shoppers stopped to watch and ask  or leaflets and more info, and the drivers of buses, taxis and cars were generously patient and supportive.

You can watch this poignant video of the action, set to mournful music.

XR Cymru – ‘Barclays, Blind to the Climate Crisis!’

6 JUL | Carmarthen, Aberystwyth, Oswestry, Abergavenny – Wales

XR groups in Cymru (Wales) co-ordinated a day of action across different sites to call on Barclays to divest from fossil fuels. In the banking world, Barclays is the 6th biggest investor in fossil fuels and we need them to recognise the emergency and ACT NOW.

In Carmarthen, 4 rebels blocked the doors of the bank, preventing the branch from opening all day. Two rebels were arrested for their non-violent action.

In Aberystwyth, 20 rebels sat outside Barclays in a blindfolded meditation, with signs reading ‘Barclays, blind to the climate crisis’.

XR Oswestry occupied their bank with a John Lennon & Yoko Ono inspired bed scene with a tea party. An awareness-raising action also took place in Abergavenny.

XR Lancashire’s first action in Preston

20 JUL | Preston 

Rebels from Northern branches of XR descended on Preston on Saturday 20th July, in the city’s first real taste of XR rebellion. Rebels marched peacefully from the railway station down Fishergate, with plenty of joyful music from their samba band and other instruments.

They blocked the road for a while before heading to the Lancashire County Council building to urge their local government to listen to their concerns and act now in the face of a climate crisis.

The day ended with more music, picnic food, and fun in Avenham Park. The organisers were pleased with the day overall. They had not planned much disruption, as they wanted to gain support from the general public and not anger people too much at this early stage in their activism. They were happy with the positive reception they received, with passersby engaging in the activities and seeming sympathetic to the cause.

Looking forward to the next Lancashire rebellion!

XR Peak don swim gear to make a splash at council meeting

17 JUL | County Hall, Matlock, Derbyshire

XR Peak disrupted a Council chamber in Derbyshire by taking over the space with climate justice chants and banners, all in swimwear. Three rebels boldly stood at the front of the chamber wearing swimsuits, wigs and flowery swimming caps to indicate how we will need to adapt to the heat of our climate crisis. More rebels, blocked from joining them, waved blue fabric that represented rising sea levels and joined the chanting. Conservative councillors quickly exited the meeting, whilst other councillors applauded the rebels’ demonstration. Video here.

Rebel Surfers make waves at Surf contest

30 JUN | St Ives, Cornwall

The Rebel Surfers of XR St. Ives took part in our local Swellboard Shootout, representing the rebellion in the water and proudly displaying the Extinction symbol on our tops.

Although the waves weren’t huge, we made ripples with our banner and flags, and caused a stir by sitting down to block the road during the fancy dress parade. We were picked up by the local press and had some good outreach conversations with the local surf community. 

XR Bromley Litter Pick

13 JUL | Beckenham, Bromley

The rebels of XR Bromley undertook a litter pick in Beckenham to serve the community and reach out to the public with XR’s message.

Our determined team journeyed from Kent House Station to Clock House and accumulated approximately 12 kilograms of litter!

The response to the event was overwhelmingly positive, and we enjoyed the outreach opportunity, handing out general and citizens assembly leaflets to passers by and telling them about XR.

UK rebels, we need YOUR help to capture all the brilliant, creative local actions that are happening every week!

To see your action here, please email us at xr-newsletter@protonmail.com with ‘Story Contribution’ in the subject line.

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