Extinction Rebellion is a decentralised network and very broad alliance of ordinary people coming together under the umbrella of 3 key demands, a commitment to non-violence, and support for open rebellion in the form of civil disobedience. Affinity and organising groups are appearing in exponential numbers across the country and in many other countries across the world.
When people come together like this, it’s amazing how quickly things can happen, and this short film shows a local group in north London putting on an outreach event outside Hornsey Town Hall in Crouch End.
It was a family affair, aimed at outreach and recruitment, and during the course of the afternoon, hundreds of locals were engaged in conversation, and more than a hundred signed up to support XR. In this film some of the organisers describe their roles, but these were just a few of many more, each doing a little bit towards the whole.
As well as poets, musicians, speakers, face-painting, animal masks, flag and T-shirt printing, cakes and muffins, there was also some civil disobedience using the technique known as ‘swarming’. This involves blocking a road when the lights turn red, and holding up traffic for a few minutes at a time. Volunteers speak to drivers to reassure them that the disruption will be short, and also to engage with them about the climate and ecological crisis. The theory is that this is far more potent than leafletting, marching, and petitioning, because unless humanity confronts these issues on a huge scale right now, the disruption to our lives and our children’s in the future is unimaginable. It’s also a way for people to practice blocking roads in preparation for much bigger shutdowns planned across major cities in April.
Towards the end of the afternoon, a small People’s Assembly was tried out to introduce people to this method of direct democracy, and small groups discussed and presented possible responses and solutions in relation to topics including air pollution and climate change. One of XR’s key demands is the formation of a ‘Citizen’s Assembly’ to come up with plans to tackle the impending ecological crises – a Citizen’s Assembly differs from a People’s Assembly because a system known as sortition is used to ensure the assembly is fairly representative of the different sectors of a population.
Under pressure from various activists, Haringey Council have just joined the growing number of local authorities declaring a ‘climate emergency’, and LibDem councillor Dawn Barnes gave her support at the event.