My feelings for Extinction Rebellion are complex. On one hand I love what they are doing. I love the disruption, the art, the commitment, the passion, the diversity, the hard work and the messaging. They are on point about the climate emergency that risks ours and our children’s future. The largest mass extinction ever witnessed etc etc……..I could go on but all these things are not the issue. For me the issue is about consent.
XR were born from groups like Rising up and the Clean air crew and their momentum has been impressive. Learning from previous campaigns and a global conversation about Climate change the urgency has bought a lot of groups out to join them. We have seen affinity group actions taking place up and down the land to highlight climate crimes. Some of these groups have gone out with the intent of getting themselves arrested. They have tried every other means to no avail and feel this is their last option. So if people are willing to get arrested why does XR feel the need to talk to the police about planned actions? Is it because they consider themselves a peaceful group and therefore feel above the actions of protests that have turned violent and so feel they are on the moral high ground?
Yes police are humans but only by some slim definition as we have seen with Climate camp, Reclaim the Power and Fracking camps the police have had protesters under surveillance, isolating them and creating a limited shelf life for protestors and XR are making that shelf life shorter. We have already seen the police tactics changing from initially taking protestors to the cells to face charges and allow the protesters the day in court they want, to offering roadside PND’s for low level criminal damage. They already sussed that’s what you wanted, your day in court, your last resort has been taken away from you already.
Anyway I digress back to consent. So XR have been in constant contact with police about their upcoming actions. Email conversations sounding more like co-workers. So by the time the people where out on the street the police knew enough to facilitate your actions. That is not a protest that is theatre.
If you are an umbrella organisation with a lot of affinity groups with a common goal and you are actively encouraging people to take on large corporations guilty of crimes against the planet and then talk to the police about what those plans are you are actually grassing up your comrades. If an individual wants to get arrested rest assured they will. XR you don’t have to talk to the police for that to happen. The problem is this fact that you are talking to the police means that people that don’t want to get arrested have had their defence removed. Because of those conversations restrictions and conditions are put in place. You have provided the state with the intent, you have removed consent by talking on behalf of everybody and we know that isn’t the case, you don’t talk on behalf of everybody. There are groups that come out in solidarity that do not consent to that policy and there is a large percentage of XR that don’t agree with this policy by this fact alone you do not have consensus and therefore should not be talking to them.
If you naively think the police one day will join your movement I hate to tell you your movement isn’t big enough yet. You encourage people to take on the criminal activities of corporations on one hand and on the other talk about it with those protecting them. That’s fucked up. If individuals want to chat to a police officer whilst on a demo that is an individuals choice and that is something I have seen a lot on XR actions and there is nothing we can do about that.
I really want to jump in head first with XR. I want to shut down Fashion week and stop people driving everywhere, see people fed up with disruptions and getting familiar with public transport, I want to see people take drastic and immediate action. I want to see it succeed. It has to succeed. Please do not talk to the police on my behalf and I will join you.