Protesters from the Extinction Rebellion movement have now blocked four major London areas for five days despite more than 500 arrests, and they say they are nowhere near up to full capacity with many hundreds of members of the public joining every day. We filmed a short section of an hour-long in-depth workshop (one of many running throughout the day) to introduce people to their legal rights, peaceful civil disobedience, and what to expect if they agree to put themselves in a position to be arrested.
The organisers were keen to make clear that while they were trying to make civil disobedience more accessible to lots of people, they are not encouraging people to get arrested, especially if their jobs are vulnerable, if they do not have good support networks, or if they have physical or mental health problems for instance.
For anyone wanting to check out the reality of what was being taught, they only had to turn their heads to witness dozens of arrests taking place a few yards away from them, as police tried in vain to clear the Oxford Circus junction after imposing an order that the protest was unlawful. They were hindered by the fact that each time someone was arrested, more and more people sat on the ground around the iconic pink boat, which dozens more had locked or glued themselves on to. After another 30 or so arrests, the police gave up, apparently running out of available vans, and the protest continued.
All police leave has been cancelled and the Home Secretary has declared that the police must use the ‘full force of the law’, but with public opinion moving towards the side of the protesters, the rising numbers taking part, their absolute adherence to non-violence, and the clamour of science, business, and celebrity voices giving support, it looks increasingly like the government must consider responding in a meaningful way, or face increasing disruption.
Yesterday, 3 protesters were remanded in custody after a protest which halted a DLR train for a while on Wednesday at Canary Wharf. Today, despite corporate media hysteria about disruption to Heathrow, a small group of young people held a banner there, and were threatened with arrest by police, who were there in large numbers.